Chatham Experience 2021 was one of those “somedays” we were dreaming of this time last year–and it was glorious, friends.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, life as we know it changed for everyone–including artists. Galleries closed. Music venues canceled all performances. Artists were left to figure out where and how they were going to make their art, not to mention a living. At the Chatham Arts Council, we knew we could help.
Investing in artists is half of our mission to nurture creative thinkers. Out of our desire to make good on that mission even in hard times, the JumpstART grant was born. With the help of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and Manbites Dog Theater Fund, we figured we could put artists back to work by paying them to create art, and then showcase that art in the public sphere. Over the last year, JumpstART artists created visual art, literature, and new music and shared their work with our community at Chatham Experience 2021, in downtown Pittsboro, on November 7.
Visual artists Dolly Sickles, ~buffy of Cope Aesthetic, Tanja Cole, Felix Obelix (aka Wendy Spitzer), JR Butler, Julia Kennedy, Alexander Percy, Kate Ladd, Nancy Ann Moore, Steve Fagan, and Britt Flood displayed their works in business up and down Hillsboro Street. You can still view these works through November 16! CLICK HERE for a list of locations.
Chatham Rabbits told us stories and sang songs they wrote in between their own “truck and trailer” performances. That’s right! They spent the pandemic traveling around on the back of a trailer, bringing songs to folks right where they lived, offering much-needed live music to our community in a COVID-safe way.
Breadfoot shared several new tunes he wrote and recorded over the last year, and he brought some friends with him! He was joined on stage by fellow JumpstART artist, Gabriel Pelli of Grand Shores, and Chatham’s own hidden treasure, Taz Halloween. The high-spirited stories, songs, and laughter of Breadfoot and company were just what the doctor ordered!
Chatham Experience 2021 wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our naming sponsors, MOSAIC and Chatham Park, or without our partners, volunteers, and board members. Main Street Pittsboro and the Pittsboro Business Association allowed us to join First Sunday, and what a beautiful collaboration!
With her grant, Dolly Sickles was able to donate copies of her book, Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen to 4 elementary schools and 3 libraries. Of course we love this! It falls right in line with the second half of our mission: educating kids through the arts. Dolly read an excerpt from Peggy Noodle on Sunday, and we are delighted. Literary artist and singer/songwriter, Brenda Linton also read from her upcoming memoir. We’re hooked, Brenda! We can’t wait to read more.
Visual artist Britt Flood displayed works inside Perch Coworking during the week, and then she actually created new works of art, LIVE, outside on the sidewalk just for Chatham Experience.
We were thrilled to welcome neo-soul sensation Deja Belle to her first live performance in four years, and her first ever in Pittsboro. And Pittsboro was blown away by her songs, her voice, and her energy. Deja Belle and her family are from Washington, DC and relocated to Chatham County right before the pandemic because they loved the vibe here. We agree!
Musicians Gabriel Pelli and Will Ridenour make up Grand Shores and they closed out the day with their mesmerizing musical blend of Americana and West African folk.
The Chatham community loves its artists! Chatham Experience 2021 was met with so much positivity, and it was a joy to bring. Thank you all for joining us on this adventure!