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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A with CPA's Emil Kang

Emil Kang has served as the Executive Director of the Arts since 2005 and is the Executive Director of CPA.
Emil Kang has served as the Executive Director of the Arts since 2005 and is the Executive Director of CPA.

Carolina Performing Arts’ 2013-2014 season launches the new initiative, Arts@TheCore, which aims to bridge the gap between the arts and academics on campus. Emil Kang, executive director for the arts, spoke with staff writer Sarah Ang about the upcoming season.

Daily Tar Heel: Why is this season’s overarching theme “reclaim, reinvent, rejoice?”

Emil Kang: Last year’s “The Rite of Spring” theme was easy to understand because it was a marker in history. This year, we tried to think about how we articulate our aesthetic through the programming that we do. We spent time discussing what we’re looking for artists to express through their art, and it was those few words that came out of it. In some respects, you could argue that those three words apply to all of CPA’s seasons.

For the first time, we’ve also completely shifted away from genre-based marketing and programming. We used to say, “This is the World Series,” or “This is the Jazz Series.” The general audience likes that, but we feel that they’re smarter than that and can see across genres.

A person can listen to Mozart and alternative country music. If we put up these boundaries, people will think about art in only those ways.

DTH: What’s the purpose of the new CPA initiative Arts@TheCore?

EK: This program relates to how we engage faculty members to use our program in their teaching. Let’s say there’s a class that addresses homophobia. They might use a dance company we have that speaks to it. What Arts@TheCore does is tries to actually institutionalize these relationships between us and faculty.

DTH: So you’re reaching out to connect and fund the professors, hoping it will trickle down to the students?

EK: Would an undergrad go four years without going to a basketball game? It’s part of the culture. That’s what we’re trying to do.

The whole point of coming to this university is that you want the world to be at your fingertips.

The whole Carolina experience is that this is a chance for them to find what moves them. The only way to do that is by trying many things. We can’t force it down your throat, but we want to add dimension to the education.

DTH: How will you distribute the $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Arts@TheCore?

EK: The idea (is) that we’re launching this over five years. We have a curatorial fellow, a postdoctoral fellow and a Mellon Distinguished Scholar, professor Joy Kasson. Her task, over the next three years, is to develop those relationships and create a faculty advisory council to actually launch all our performances into the classroom, so they become part of the syllabi. They become a very natural extension of teaching, and the performance becomes a three-dimensional explanation of the professor’s teachings. There are funds for faculty to give free tickets to their students, which is worth it for us if the faculty members insert it in their teachings.

DTH: Is this initiative meant to bring more students to Memorial Hall?

EK: Yes, but for the right reasons. Our goal isn’t simply to fill a house and force people to go.

If that’s all we want, then we would bring performances that students wanted, like Mumford & Sons. That’s not what we do.

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