Keeping Durham cool

Aug. 08, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

We have made no secret of our love affair with the Art of Cool. We saw the jazz festival, when the idea was in its infancy, as a way to continue to set Durham apart from the rest of the Triangle, not to mention the rest of the state, by emphasizing the value Durham puts on the arts, culture and, well, coolness.
The festival’s inaugural year brought big names and excitement to downtown, as well as crowds of visitors eager to experience outstanding music in a variety of venues. Cicely Mitchell, co-founder of the Art of Cool, says the April festival – which featured both ticketed and free events -- drew 4,700 people. About 1,400 tickets were sold. That’s good for downtown and that’s good for Durham. And we suspect many of those who attended the 2014 concert series are looking forward to coming back.
So we were pleased with Thursday’s announcement from festival organizers that fundraising is getting underway for the 2015 Art of Cool. The annual addition of this festival to Durham events adds a new component to what our city has to offer.
As downtown evolves, we have seen restaurants and bars fill up empty spaces. Salons, spas and some retail stores have come online. Residences are going up at a remarkable pace. The arts will help drive that continued growth, making downtown a weekend and evening destination, and providing entertainment for the burgeoning number of people who now call downtown home.
Concert series have sprung up in and around downtown for the summer in recent years. There are studios, theaters and galleries for visual and performing artists. The Bull City Sculpture show’s introduction of large-scale pieces as public art from artists across the country added to the emphasis on art downtown. The American Dance Festival has long been part of rich tradition celebrating the arts.
The Art of Cool is a wonderful addition to Durham artistic offerings.
When changes for downtown were first in the air, Asheville was one of the places city leaders looked at to see what was happening and how it came to be. A visit to downtown Asheville now features street performers who are involved in the arts from music to miming. It provides a new vibrancy and brings the sidewalks to life, as throngs walk to restaurants, hotels, shops and home.
Durham has found its own success, and the role of the arts will be vital in how the city’s character is defined. The Bull City has many talented artists across genres who are advocating and acting to ensure the arts are a key component in drawing people to our city, enhancing Durham’s image and bettering the lives of residents here.