Violinist Robert Vijay Gupta

Vijay Gupta, violinist and social activist, will kick off the first Artivate: Summit Aug. 12 at Hanesbrand Theatre.

Vijay Gupta, a virtuoso violinist, social justice advocate and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, will kick off a two-day summit for artist leaders hosted by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNC School of the Arts.

Artivate, set for Aug. 12-13, will facilitate connections between the arts and the community through interactive workshops; immersive arts experiences; and networking, mentoring and community events.

Gupta, the keynote performer, will play and speak at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at HanesBrands Theatre in Winston-Salem. Interim UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole, the former music dean, will lead a Q&A session with Gupta after the performance.

Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 at age 19 after earning a master’s degree in violin performance from the Yale School of Music.

He is the founder of Street Symphony, a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians to work in communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration and homelessness. Among the L.A. nonprofit’s most inspiring projects is an annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” featuring musicians from Skid Row.


The conference will continue on Aug. 13.

Artivate is a key component of the Kenan Institute’s new five-year strategic plan, the Creative Catalyst Initiative, which launched in the spring. It aims to equip the next generation of artist leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Southeast and inspire them to build thriving careers and positively affect the economic and social well-being of their communities.

“Artivate welcomes everyone! Come be inspired by these extraordinary creative changemakers to imagine how art can make the world a better place,” said Corey Madden, executive director of the Kenan Institute.

A highlight of Artivate on Tuesday will be a lunchtime appearance by Donovan Livingston, an award-winning educator and spoken-word poet. In 2016, his Harvard Graduate School of Education convocation address “Lift Off” went viral, getting more than 13 million views and appearances on CNN, NPR, BBC and Good Morning America.

Now working on a doctorate in education, Donovan is examining the role of hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in student experiences in higher and post-secondary education.

During a visit to local community makerspace MIXXER, participants will meet with David J. Brown, the guest curator of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

An annual experiment in community and art, Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where participants live for a week and explore various forms of artistic self-expression. Brown plans an interactive session during which the group will dissect the 10 principles of Burning Man to discover which ones may be useful in their own creative pursuits.

“It is a tease of what actually happens out in the desert. We may even find other principles that are really important,” Brown said. “I have always adhered to the idea that art is a verb, not a noun — that it takes active participation in the work that artists do and how they operate in the creative culture.”

The afternoon will be spent in the Downtown Arts District seeing street performances and visiting with creatives, including Lawren Desai, a film curator and founder of Aperture Cinema, a Sundance Institute Art House Project Theater.

Artivate organizers say they intend to make it an annual event.

The Creative Catalyst initiative also offers a flexible online Creative Catalyst Certificate Program. For information, visit . 336-727-7298 @Lynn_Felder

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