Public Space Project
Downtown Durham, Inc. hosts performances, pop-ups, installations, murals, and more in downtown Durham’s public spaces. The Public Space Project focuses on retaining and supporting the creative and artistic cultures of Durham and upholding public spaces of convergence. We encourage collaborative, unexpected, thought-provoking and unifying work.
This program provides grants to individuals and organizations who will bring creative free of charge experiences to downtown Durham.
Due to COVID-19, we have postponed the application period for Season 4. Please sign up for updates here.
Season 3 Projects
Ramya S. Kapadia and Sampada Agarwal
Durham Warli Mural
The Art of the Warlis in Durham is a project that seeks to involve members of the Durham community in the co-creation of a massive mural in the style of Warli – an indigenous art form from Western India that uses minimalistic forms and vibrant patterns to reflect everyday lives and events. The artists will offer a series of live-streamed lessons through which participants can learn basic Warli painting techniques and contribute sketches to be involved in the mural’s design. The final mural will capture the dynamic nature of Durham’s landscapes as told by its people – From our rural tobacco-growing past, to our vibrant urban present.
About the Artists
Common ideologies of beauty, flow and discipline drew Ramya S Kapadia, a Bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer, and artist Sampada Agarwal to each other’s works. Over the past 10 years, they have supported and been inspired by each other’s creative talent and have actively engaged with the community through music, dance and art. They look forward to this artistic collaboration that will help them grow in their respective fields of expertise.
The Cabinet of Wishes
Write your wish on a card and put it into the Cabinet of Wishes – an antique armoire that’s equal parts confessional and fortuneteller – and the cabinet instantly returns your wish with a poetic response that reassures, informs, challenges, or inspires. It’s an intimate, safe space to express inner thoughts without shame or judgment and to receive an actionable response from the beyond.
About the Artist
Chris Vitiello is a Durham-based arts writer, performer, and poet. His most recent books are Irresponsibility and Obedience (both Ahsahta Press). As the Poetry Fox, he writes custom poems on-demand on vintage typewriters at over a hundred events a year. After winning a 2017 ArtPrize Pitch Night, he took his performance installation The Language Is Asleep to the Grand Rapids Art Museum and has reprised the immersive work for Duke University’s StoryCon, Raleigh’s Block Gallery, and the Greensboro Project Space. He also writes about art and performance and won the 2017 Rabkin Prize for Visual Arts Journalism. Vitiello organizes art events throughout the Triangle and has curated group exhibitions at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill and at The Carrack in Durham.
and BJ Warshaw
Symphony for 100 Toy Keyboards
Symphony for 100 Toy Keyboardsis a non-traditional musical composition to be performed by a large gathering of community members – musicians and non-musicians alike. Through a series of instructions played on color-coded toy keyboards, the “Symphony” will be a joyous experience of beautiful sounds emerging from simple rules. Like a gigantic game of Simon Says, participants will follow their conductors and, together, play simple passages – no prior musical experience necessary! For spectators, the “Symphony” will be a novel celebration of sound influenced by the canonical composers of the modern/minimalist era but fully accessible and fun for the casual passerby. By using toy instruments normally reserved for kids or relegated to thrift stores, the “Symphony” will provide a truly accessible means for the Durham community to share in the raw beauty of collective music-making. Recommended if you like: flash mobs, Casios, 20th century minimalism, or childrens’ toys.
About the Artists
Musicians BJ Warshaw (Shooting Spires, ex-Parts & Labor) and William Hackney (ex-Wye Oak, ex-Bowerbirds, ex-Mount Moriah) became fast friends in the summer of 2017, sharing a love for music of all genres, sense of humor, and fondness for the obscure. Both have previously participated in large group format performances: BJ in an unreleased recording of Glenn Branca’s Symphony No. 13 Hallucination City for 100 guitars and Will in Seth Olinsky’s Band Dialogue at Hopscotch Music Festival. This is their first musical collaboration.
Pan-African Beats is a celebration of African people and their journey in music. Bridging the ancient traditions of West African drumming and tracing that lineage to the Americas through hip-hop, this performance will feature an intergenerational group of drummers, dancers, DJs and live beat makers. Hip-hop is connected to a drumming tradition which goes back thousands of years: the descendants of Africans have effectively traded one African drum for another: the djembe, an African drum made of goat skin stretched out over a wooden frame, for an MPC, plastic pads connected to circuits and a motherboard. Join us on a journey to tell the story of Black music in the heart of historic Black Wall Street.
About the Artists
Blackspace is a digital makerspace designed to provide youth of African descent a breathing space to manifest their dreams and to shape change “by any medium necessary.” Blackspace has proven to serve as a vibrant cultural institution maintaining locations in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Inspired by Afrofuturism, Blackspace focuses on the intersection of African culture, African diaspora, creativity and technology. Youth participate in “WokeShops” focusing on a variety of topics, including spoken word poetry, digital storytelling, music production and coding. Packed with events and active programming, Blackspace is a creative sanctuary outside of school and home, where youth are able to saturate themselves in local art, deep conversation and innovative technology.
Durham Independent Dance Artists
Dancing in the Street
In collaboration with DJs, dancers, other local arts organizers, and local businesses, DIDA will generate a series of free dance parties in downtown Durham. The collaborative hopes to create delight, draw attention to the ephemeral moment, and open up possibilities for an embodied difference in our communal life. Life is hard and art is vital; let’s make connection easier.
About the Artists
Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA) is Lightsey Darst, Alyssa Noble, and Justin Tornow. DIDA was founded in 2014. We are currently working with a range of collaborators to create events that go beyond (or around) the mainstage paradigm, experiences that blend performance, conversation, and celebration. Our recent activities include a partnership with Carolina Performing Arts, programming a series of performances at house parties, and our individual participation in the City of Durham’s broader arts issues.
Bull City Sound Garden
The Bull City Sound Garden is an outdoor musical instrument that will encourage community gathering and engagement. It will consist of a large instrument specifically designed to create meditative and healing sound waves. The goal is to create a gathering space that promotes cross-community interactions and bonds throughout the city.
About the Artist
Jhordan “Jaguar” Perry is highly skilled in multiple artistic disciplines and has an extreme passion for visual arts and communication. Thanks to his work as Assistant Director in the Durham Civil Rights Mural Project, his eyes were opened to new creative outlets and opportunities. Producing events, creating installations and working in the public arts has been his focus for the last five years. Ultimately, his goal is to be known as a complete artist and curator. Jaguar has exhibited work in North Carolina and California.
Monet Noelle Marshall and Derrick Beasley
Walk this Way: Reconnecting Hayti and the Heart of Durham
This project will reconnect the Hayti Heritage Center to the heart of Durham with a route that will include public art, greenery, and markers with historical facts about the Hayti District and Black Wall Street. The route will encourage residents to walk or bike to and from Hayti by creating a safe and welcoming space and helping to create a healthier, eco-friendly community. Local artists will create engaging public art along the way.
About the Artists
Derrick Beasley is a multidisciplinary artist, cultural organizer and civic servant raised in Durham, NC. His work is informed by his experience and education in policy analysis and community organizing and the intersections of his personal identifiers, including but not limited to being a Southern Black Man. Derrick creates portals to new understandings of our human experience through transforming spaces, community and creating visual and audible references to facilitate new imaginings.
Monét Noelle Marshall is an artist, director, playwright, curator, producer & cultural organizer. A 2018 Independent Weekly Arts Award winner, she serves as the Founding Artistic Director of MOJOAA Performing Arts Company. Recent projects include the “Buy It Call It” performance installations, which earned her the 2018 Mary B. Regan Community Artist Fellowship from the NC Arts Council.
Season 3 Selection Committee
Marcella CamaraYoung, Gifted & Broke
Stacey PostonCity of Durham
Saba TajThe Carrack
Mike WilliamsBlack on Black Project
Are you or your organization interested in co-sponsoring a Public Space Project? Contact us at [email protected] to discuss opportunities.
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