Toshi Reagon

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Creative Futures Artist-in-Residence

Creating in-depth dialogues that help transform communities

From her Mellon Foundation Discovery Through Iterative Learning (DisTIL) and Creative Futures fellowships, to her focus on Southern Futures at CPA and beyond, Brooklyn-based singer, composer, musician, curator, activist and producer Toshi Reagon is CPA’s longest-running artist-in-residence. Through music and community collaborations, Toshi cultivates curiosity and connection with Triangle audiences, artists and change-makers. 

Through Creative Futures, Reagon is developing a series of short musicals exploring different aspects of the ideas of survival, economy and music. She has engaged local artists and researchers in this work, with plans to collaborate with locally-based youth. 

“I’m grateful that Creative Futures will let me stay in this community, which I love. Chapel Hill has a strong Black community oral tradition, leading scholars, amazing activists and great artists, and I’m excited to continue to work with all of them.”

Toshi Reagon, from “Making the Future

Toshi also brought these ideas to her role in Comm 665: Performance, Politics, and Culture, a UNC-Chapel HIll Department of Communication course. Taught by Renée Alexander Craft and Joseph Megel, the course included anchor texts selected with the partnership of Toshi’s community collaborators. Comm 665 also featured guest lectures, performances, and opportunities to engage with community collaborators outside of the classroom. Centering on performance as analysis, collaborative art-making, and public sharing, the course culminated in a performance by its students, presented as part of the Department of Communication’s Process Series. 

Other collaborations on the horizon of Toshi’s residency at CPA include facilitated conversations on critical issues in the Black community, as well as a “creative exchange” program in which a Triangle artist will be connected with a New York-based artist, for a partnership intended to result in events curated by Toshi in both locales.

Local collaborators

Toshi Reagon’s local collaborators include UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, artists, community organizations and others from the Triangle.

Shirlette Ammons
Poet, musician, educator, producer
Dr. Renée Alexander Craft
Department of Communications and Curriculum in Global Studies
Ebony Golden
Founder/CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative
Brenton Harrison
Activist, educator, writer, performing artist
House of Pentacles
Joseph Megel
Artist in residence, Department of Communications
Mariah Mosanto
Writer, activist, community organizer
NorthStar Church of the Arts
Dr. Danielle Purifoy
Postdoc, Department of Geography
Activist, filmmaker, writer, performing artist, spiritual leader

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