Orange County Presents Plans for First ‘Beacon’ Art Festival in Summer 2022



A new art festival is making its way to Orange County next year. The Beacon will be a biennial, county-wide public art festival taking place in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough in the summer of 2022.

The Beacon aims to become a major destination for art festivals and generate spending at restaurants, shops and other local county services from visitors attending the festival.

Katie Murray is the Orange County Arts Commission director. She recently presented the plans for the Beacon to the Orange County Commissioners Council Meeting.

Murray said the festival has three goals: showcase artwork in addition to financially support the artists, support the struggling downtown community during the summer months, and provide a free festival accessible to all. community members.

“Of course I tend to think that the arts can solve almost any problem,” Murray said. “I’ve been thinking for a long time what event can we create that will really put Orange County on the map. [This festival could] Pulls us a bit out of the shadows, at least creatively, that we seem to fall into and in terms of being in the Triangle with Durham and Raleigh, and something to become a new signature event for our community.

Murray said there were 14 community partners involved in the festival, including the Orange County Arts Commission, the Tri-Towns, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and the Orange County Economic Development.

The festival focuses on three-dimensional art like sculpture, the art of installation and the art of projection. Murray said there will be a national call for artists to be judged by a panel of experts. Those accepted will receive an allowance for travel and installation costs.

Outdoor locations will be matched with artists according to their artistic medium. During the festival, the public can vote for their favorite works of art through an online portal. At the end of the festival, cash prizes will be awarded to the jury vote winners as well as the audience vote winner.

Murray said the Beacon is modeled after ArtPrize, a biennial festival in Grand Rapids that attracts 500,000 attendees and an estimated economic impact of $ 33 million.

“It’s obviously a goal, but I think if we can start our first year off on the right foot, I can see this event end up having the same impact as ArtPrize,” said Murray.

Orange County Commissioners Chair Renee Price said she believes the festival will not only have a creative impact for the county, but also a financial impact.

“It will have a ripple effect and I think it will pay off,” Price said. “It will bring happiness and joy, which we will need after this pandemic. We’re going to try to get everyone together, so it’s going to be very, very good.

The festival’s budget should be finalized by November and the call for artists will begin in December. The festival will start on July 15, 2022 and run until August 15, 2022.

Photo via the Town of Chapel Hill.


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