The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 18th

Community envisions arts future in year 2034

This Willy Wonka quote comes to life in the first ever Imaginings project, which will take place in 16 different locations across the United States.

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro will host the southeastern Imagining .

“What the Imagining is, is it’s some kind of community gathering where together we envision 2034 and how our neighborhoods and towns look like now — that arts and culture are infused in civic life and imagining that this has already happened,” said Lynden Harris, a cultural agent and founder of Hidden Voices.

A product of the two-year-old U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the Imaginings are meant to be a way to revitalize the nation, starting at the community level.

“We see this round of Imaginings as a pilot and will continue to find ways in the coming months to gather ideas, images and stories that will inform the agenda and policy platform of the USDAC,” said Adam Horowitz, otherwise known as the USDAC Deputy Secretary Norman Beckett, in an email.

The locations of the Imagining series depended on the location of the cultural agents. After more than a hundred applications were received, 17 cultural agents were selected from across the country, Harris being one of them.

“We’re really happy to host the Imagining because it fits with what we do with using arts and creativity to make community stronger,” said ArtsCenter executive director Art Menius.

While a national project, Harris said each Imagining project — spread out across the span of two weeks — has a different theme. Kansas will channel the “Wizard of Oz,” while D.C. is going retro with a soul train theme.

“We’re kind of in this whole farm to food movement. We decided to envision ours as sort of a county fair vibe,” she said.

To capture this feeling, participants will be handed magic wand pinwheels upon entrance, which they can use to transport themselves to 2034.

From there, participants will be asked to go to one of 10 stations of different topics — including foodways, health, housing and more — and imagine what their lives would be like if the arts were more utilized in these ways.

“Once people start talking, all sorts of ideas and visions will crop up,” said Harris. “The spirit of the conversation is ‘yes, and,’ and we aren’t debating, we aren’t trying to convince each other. It’s ‘We’ll be building on each other’s visions,’ and I think that’s really important.”

This event isn’t just a meeting, but a community celebration of the arts with performances by local musicians and poets, elixir snow cones by renowned local chef and social activist Chef Njathi Kabui, funnel cakes and more.

Puppeteer and poet Tarish Pipkins will emcee the event.

“What I hope happens is everyone has fun and they actually start thinking more about the future through art,” Pipkins said. “Just imagine the future.”

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