Throughout history, artists of all kinds have played pivotal roles in when it comes defining what it means to be an active citizen in your community. In times of upheaval, change, or oppression, artists give breath to what one might not know how to—or be afraid to—say. Through their work, they can serve as a guiding light for others when considering how we can, individually and collectively, support the marginalized, invest in our communities, and speak out against wrongdoing.

This season at CPA, we’re focusing on supporting the work of artists who do just these things—and finding ways to bring that into the wider world of the Triangle and beyond. Creative Futures, our newest Mellon Foundation-funded grant, is one such way that we hope we can support impactful work that becomes embedded in the fabric of this place we all call home. You’ll hear more about this in the weeks and months to come.

A man walking across a darkly lit stage

Many of the artists in the 18/19 season bring performances to CPA under our You Are a Citizen theme—we hope you’ll be as inspired by the questions they provoke as we have been. On September 28, Brooklyn Rider teams up with singer Magos Herrera for Dreamers, in which they breathe new life into words written by poets and other artists during brutalist regimes: demonstrating the idea that art can serve powerfully as a reminder of the beauty that exists in the world even in the most trying of times. Then, in October, renowned German theater company Schaubühne Berlin brings their radical adaptation of the Ibsen play An Enemy of the People. Tainted water, whistleblowing, freedom of speech…who knew a 100-year-old play could be so relevant in 2018 North Carolina? (Not to mention that this production was just canceled in China.)

For an entirely different take on the importance of free speech, we’re thrilled to be hosting Bassem Youssef: the satirist (and surgeon) and former host of Al-Bernameg, who was exiled from his native Egypt for his criticism of the regimes in power. Youssef will also host an Arabic-language town hall for members of the local Arabic-speaking community-—a first for CPA. And in the spring, iconic American photographer and artist Carrie Mae Weems will explore ideas about justice and peace through the lens of the play Antigone, laying bare its enduring relevance.

On September 8, we kicked off our season in a new way: by giving the “stage” to local nonprofit organizations for a free event called Stories on Citizenship at CURRENT, which welcomed more than 200 guests. Our neighbors from Community Empowerment Fund, El Centro Hispano, Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition (ISLA), the Jackson Center, and Student Action with Farmworkers told their stories through performances of their own making, all emceed by UNC students working with the Campus Y and in the community. The event was also featured on WUNC’s The State of Things. You can listen to the interview here.

This season is all about exploration: of who we are, how we find our place in our communities, and how we come together. We look forward to uncovering these exciting things with you.

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