Why This Matters: We should experience innovative work being created in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
By Bernie Petit
Original, innovative artwork that pushes boundaries and challenges audiences is being created along the edges of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s vibrant cultural scene.
It just might not be something many people know about.
That will change with a BOOM, the three-day fringe arts event taking place April 8 – 10. It intends to make experimental art accessible to mainstream audiences with $10 admission to short, 45-minute indoor shows (day and weekend passes are available) and free outdoor arts experiences all within walking distance in Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.
“Part of the intention is to connect the dots,” said festival founder Manoj Kesavan said. “There are a lot of people doing really cool stuff, but they’re all in their own worlds. We want to connect them all and bring them all together.”
The figurative explosion of experimental art will feature 10 groups presenting more than 30 productions in six venues in the neighborhood’s business district along Central and Commonwealth avenues.
At the epicenter of the curated festival will be the local groups and artists known for creating cutting-edge work at Charlotte’s fringes: Sarah Emery and dancers, On Q Productions, Carlos Robson and Bluz (slam poetry), Sinergismo (performance art), Taproot (theater) and XOXO (theater).
Providing a broader perspective of modern art trends will be regional and national artists Dasan Ahanu (spoken word), the Alban Elved Dance Company and artistic director Karola Lüttringhaus, Cynthia Ling Lee (dance) and Questionable Acts Theatre Company.
“Fringe festivals are where the grassroots arts community meets and shares ideas and they’re where people get a sense of what’s happening in the art world,” Kesavan said. “It’s this exchange thing, especially for performing artists.”
An outdoor stage will feature contemporary performances, art installations and music, including a four hour Tosco Music Party on April 9.
All of the open-air public performances will be free and they should be relatively inoffensive, at least by fringe standards. What happens inside the venues is another story.
“We want artists to do their thing,” he said. “We are not asking for pre-approval or anything – there’s no censorship – so we don’t know what you’re going to see. Some of them might not be kid-friendly.”
What they will all be is new and original.
“We encourage the groups to take risks,” Kesavan said. “We want them to bring their A-games and surprise us because we are trying to show something Charlotteans wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
It’s also a way to show what Charlotte-Mecklenburg does have, which is a thriving avant garde scene. BOOM, supported in part by a grant from ASC, is a step in bringing more awareness to the performing artists making great work here, Kesavan said.
“We felt it was time that Charlotte had that kind of a festival that was showcasing what’s at the fringes – the non-institutional, the experimental, people who are pushing the boundaries,” he said. “It’s the future of the arts, really.”
Want to Go?
BOOM, a first-time fringe arts showcase of experimental and contemporary performance and visual art, will take place April 8 – 10, 2016, in Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood. It will include more than 30 performances, art installations and after parties in surrounding venues and public spaces. Performances at the outdoor stage are free; performances inside venues are $10 per event. Day and weekend passes are also available. For a full schedule of performances and locations, visit www.boomcharlotte.org.