Thousands will gather in celebration of the performing and visual arts beginning July 12-29 on UNCW’s campus. This year is round two for the Lumina Festival of the Arts and it is made up of performances in music, dance, poetry, film and theatre.
The first festival was held in 2017, and it came from the idea of livening up the campus during the summer. Opera Wilmington has been performing on campus during the summer for nearly five years, and their partnership with UNCW will continue with the festival. A Shakespeare production will take place in collaboration with Alchemical Theatre of Wilmington, and the festival will also have a concert series which will feature Rhiannon Giddens from the Grammy Award-winning group Carolina Chocolate Drops, which is a traditional African-American string band. The Lumina Festival will also have shorter hour-long concerts that will precede other events.
As for dance, former Pilobolus dancer Gaspard Louis is bringing his own company of dancers from Durham for the showcase. They are the featured act for half of the dance showcase, and the other half will be dancers chosen from local submissions.
“We had a real regional focus for this festival, so a lot of artists are people who we are collaborating within the community,” said Kristen Brogdon, Director of the Office of the Arts at UNCW. “We’ll also have some artists who have a North Carolina connection, but aren’t necessarily from here.”
Brogdon serves as producer and curator for the Lumina Festival; she is the one who selects all of the events and the acts that will be part of the festival, and she works with a team of colleagues to do so. As the producer, she makes sure there is a good flow to the schedule. “If people are coming in for the weekend, we want them to be able to see a nice wide variety of events,” she said. Being the producer also consists of making sure that everyone has a venue and a crew, marketing the event well and making sure the festival has the staff to support all of the events that will take place.
“We really started planning in earnest for this festival around October or November [of 2017],” said Brogdon. Some of the early stages of planning involve working with their partners while they get their plans together. For example, Opera Wilmington announced the opera that they are doing in January, and Alchemical Theatre had decided on the production of “Twelfth Night.” Once the festival planners knew what the “big anchor” productions were going to be for the Lumina Festival, they began to fill in the gaps with any other artistic content.
An outdoor art festival called Hooked on Arts is a new component of the Lumina Festival of the Arts this year. This festival within a festival will take place in collaboration with UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services. The idea was brought to the table after last year’s festival. The goal was to host an outdoor festival that would have art vendors, food trucks, sidewalk chalk competitions and more things that give the festival a block-party feel. Along with local artists, local music instrument shops will be there as well. They’ll have violin and string instruments and wind instruments from their shops to enact a “musical petting zoo.” People will be able to try out different instruments and figure out what they might like to play. Hooked on Arts is a free event, and it will take place on the Kenan Lawn on the opening weekend of the festival, July 14-15.
The Lumina Festival of the Arts offers students and people in the community the opportunity to sample a wide variety of different arts in a short period of time. “We’re trying to create a lot of participation and experiences, so in addition to theater productions, they’re also going to have the art fair with the sidewalk chalk competition and a salsa party where people can come and learn how to dance and those kinds of things,” said Brogdon the festival’s many events.
Apart from the students, people who aren’t so familiar with UNCW’s campus will have a chance to visit during a beautiful time of the year and catch a glimpse of some of the best performing and visual arts that the region has to offer. “It’s a great way to get a fantastic sampling of the artists of the coastal south all in a 2 ½-week time span,” she said.
UNCW students get an added bonus. Because they pay cultural event fees when they’re here in the summer, they can show up an hour before any show (whenever the box office opens) and receive a free rush ticket. These are tickets that did not sell before that last hour. Brogdon suggests not doing this if they want to be guaranteed a ticket to an event; buying them in advance is only $5 for students. But if you’re willing to take the chance, a free opportunity is always possible.
Explore this year’s events and purchase tickets at uncw.edu/arts/lumina