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Local organization champions technology and the arts

There’s a common phrase that says no man is an island. If it’s up to Chris Hutcherson-Riddle, the same will be true for the arts in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

Hutcherson-Riddle is one of the masterminds behind Moving Island, a new arts space that aims to unite art, technology and easy living through classes and events at a renovated warehouse in downtown Raleigh.

The organization will open its doors to the public for the first time this weekend for the Buoyancy Benefit, a two-night event featuring some of the most prominent musicians from across the Triangle.

Rallying an all-star cast of artists to play the event pro bono came with its fair share of obstacles.

“It was about a month in planning. Hearing from bands about whether they can play or not takes time because you have to ask every member in your band of course, so that was the biggest challenge,” Hutcherson-Riddle said. “Aside from that it’s sheerly to raise money so we have the materials we need to start teaching classes in the beginning of March.”

With courses planned in everything from circuit-bending to black-and-white photography to parent-child music classes, you’re likely to encounter both amateur and experienced artists from all corners of the Triangle at Moving Island’s space. Hutcherson-Riddle and his fellow organizers wouldn’t have it any other way.

And while this menagerie of offerings might seem fragmented, Moving Island’s board members operate under a shared goal: to give people an opportunity to try something new, and interact with each other while they’re doing so.

“We would do a pedals workshop or a circuit-bending workshop or even a recording engineering workshop, so people can learn how to empower themselves to do these things that seem really scary at first,” Hutcherson-Riddle said.

In the midst of a dicey economy and a national cut to arts programs, the founders weren’t expecting a walk in the park, but recent events in the area made Hutcherson-Riddle confident that a network of support was in place.

“Hopscotch (Music Festival) was a huge inspiration for a lot of people. I got to participate. I played in two bands at the last Hopscotch Festival, Old Bricks and Motor Skills, and just the amount of work and what it brought to the town — and also how Raleigh has really responded to that,” he said. “The community has become supportive of these things, and we saw that there was an absence and decided to try to fill that.”

With the benefit fast approaching and a roster of March classes scheduled, Moving Island is poised to do just that.

“If you look at all the bands that are playing, it’s a nice mix. It’s not all Raleigh,” Albani said.

“A lot of people from everywhere, even outside Raleigh, are very excited and wanting to be a part of the benefit. It’s definitely not just a Raleigh thing —it’s for artists and musicians and teachers and all of us.”

Hutcherson-Riddle is equally adamant that the organization hopes to draw instructors and patrons from all corners of the Triangle, not just the capital city.

“You’ve heard about the music scene in Chapel Hill in the past. Durham’s had its moments, but I think it’s really nice that it’s happening in all three locations, and that we can work together as a whole to make something really great,” he said.

Albani hopes that the benefit’s attendees leave with a sense of the community and support that is Moving Island’s raison d’etre.

“I hope that more people know what it is and that people use it, really utilize the space to help make it better and feel like they’re a part of it,” she said.

“We’re really trying to start a little family there.”

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