For those looking for artistic inspiration to propel them into the new year, Carolina Performing Arts is hosting a brand-new event showcasing established and upcoming local artists.
Over the next four weekends, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 20, CPA's Commons Festival will be livestreaming prerecorded performances from four carefully selected local artists — the Commons’ “artists in residency” — who rose to the top in the festival’s application process to secure their spots in the program.
Founded by CPA in 2019, the Commons Festival was created to support artists and foster local creative communities and discourse across the Triangle. Originally an in-person event, the festival has transitioned to a virtual platform this year.
Provided with a stipend, studio time, an artistic team and production support, the four local artists have spent ample time preparing their pieces with members of the CPA team, like program director Christopher Massenburg.
“I think it’s really an opportunity for artists to be able to deepen their relationship with the local arts community,” Massenburg said. “It’s also an opportunity to put some resources into supporting some new work from artists in this area.”
The four featured artists for the 2021 Commons Festival represent a wide variety of art forms, ranging from dance to rap to spoken word poetry. On top of this, Massenburg said the artists are representing topics that have become increasingly important to American society.
“The subject matter that they're dealing with at this time, and for all four of these artists to be young Black artists and to be given a platform for them to speak to the kinds of things they're speaking to, I think is a really powerful thing,” he said.
The first featured artist is Anthony “Ay-Jaye” Nelson, who will be performing his original solo dance piece, "Pain, Trauma, Triumph." The piece encourages the audience to reckon with their complex emotions and life experiences.
Following Nelson will be spoken word poet Ayanna Albertson, rapper Eternal the M.C. and interdisciplinary artist Johnny Lee Chapman III.