An eye on the arts

Nov. 08, 2013 @ 03:51 PM

Durham has cemented its claims to excellent health care, fine institutions of higher learning, being one of the hottest foodie towns around, outstanding sports teams and a great place for start-ups.
We also have a strong arts community that numerous galleries and increased attention to public art are a testament to. What hasn’t been spotlighted as much is the emergence of the business role that the arts in Durham increasingly play.
Two events that took place in Durham illustrate perfectly how that can play out in different ways.
On Monday, the ArtsMarket came to town. It was the market’s second appearance in Durham since it began in 2000. Held at the Durham Convention Center and Carolina Theatre, the ArtsMarket gives artists from across the county the opportunity to showcase their talents for a variety of venues from across North Carolina that converge to shop for talent. In addition to leading to actual booking for some artists, the event also gives artists the chance to network and get ideas for ways to improve their acts.
Durham came away the winner, with the Convention Center getting booked for the event, and nearby restaurants, hotels and shops benefiting from the increased traffic in town. It also exposed these visitors to all that Durham has to offer with the hope that they will return.
Fast-forward to today, when the N.C. Comicon returns for the second year to the Durham Convention Center. An event that appeals to illustrators, comic book publishers and cosplayers (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, we’ll save you a trip to Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, it is “short for ‘costume play’ and is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea.” For the uninitiated, it’s like wearing jerseys for your favorite sports team.).
This event is adding a new component this year, with the senior director of the Carolina Theatre, Jim Carl, helping bring the ComiQuest film festival to Comicon.
Again, we’re bringing in crowds to our Convention Center. We are welcoming people who will be spending their dollars in Durham as Comicon runs through the weekend.
Both of these events raise Durham’s profile as an arts-friendly city that embraces the fun and the funky. It gives us the chance to show off to new groups of visitors the other excellent qualities our city has.
The ArtsMarket and Comicon also have given us the chance to recognize the business of art and the role that Durham might play in that. They also are boosting Durham’s reputation as a city that celebrates the offbeat, colorful and creative.
We should add to our growing list of what defines Durham that we are a city that can lay claim to celebrating and supporting the arts.