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Artivate Summit '19

Thomas S. Kenan for the Arts

Oct 10, 2019

Artivate summit draws creatives eager to learn and build community

By any measure, Krisha Marcano has enjoyed a successful career as an artist. First a modern concert dancer in New York City, she performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Then she transitioned to Broadway and found steady work in musical theatre, including scoring the role of Squeak in the original cast of “The Color Purple.” While touring with the cast of “Fosse,” she even earned an MBA in entrepreneurship.

These days Marcano teaches theatre dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and runs her own small business, The Artistry Center Network. She coaches performers on how to overcome the “Starving Artist” mentality.

It proved to be a popular topic at the inaugural Artivate summit Aug. 12-13 at Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, where Marcano addressed a group of fellow creatives on the art of the “pivot.” A quick glance at her resume proves that she’s got the pivot down pat.

“As a dancer, there is a point where you have to ask yourself, ‘How do I continue to be an artist and a contributor?’ When I was coming up, if you pivoted at all, especially early on, you were considered a failure. It’s so not true,” she says.

“We have to give our young artists permission to have that kind of conversation to open up the possibilities of what success can look like over the course of their careers. It’s a marathon.”

Presented by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA, the conference drew about 150 creatives to the City of Arts & Innovation to learn first-hand how artist leaders not only are thriving in new and innovative ways but also contributing to the economic and social well-being of the diverse communities in which they live.

Artists like Iris Cole, a classically trained flute player and founder of Do Good Artist(opens in new tab), which specializes in facilitating social change through multi-sector collaborations. Cole spoke about her most recent project, “Unseen,” an innovative virtual reality experience designed to raise awareness of human trafficking. The project evolved through a collaboration of partners from the tech, nonprofit, government, academic and arts sectors.

Or Christina Soriano, the director of Wake Forest University’s dance program and the creative force behind IMPROVment(opens in new tab)®, an integrative method of dance that can improve brain health in older adults with neurodegenerative diseases. A 2019-2020 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, Soriano’s work with Parkinson’s Disease patients is transforming research and practice in medicine.

These and other presenters at Artivate are prime examples of creatives who are leveraging their unique skills and training as artists to build sustainable careers that can make a difference in their communities.


"We want to give artists and creatives a more diverse and broader and inclusive image of what they contribute — their creative ideas, their values and their deep commitment."


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