Who We Are

Artsplosure is Raleigh’s nonprofit art and cultural events production studio. We are curators, collaborators and risk-takers dedicated to fulfilling our mission of bringing rich cultural experiences to the community we serve. With each of our events, we hope to inspire and entertain, inform and celebrate, create and share.


To produce quality events that make the works of the most imaginative and celebrated artists accessible to the public – all in an effort to enrich our community and inspire greater love for the visual and performing arts.


To ensure all people in this area have the chance to enhance their cultural perspective through the visual and performing arts.



Since its first festival in April 1980, Artsplosure has presented scores of outdoor programs and large-scale festivals featuring thousands of established and emerging visual, performing, and interdisciplinary artists in numerous traditional and non-traditional indoor venues and outdoor settings.

Artsplosure was initially organized in 1978 by the Raleigh Arts Commission to produce high quality and accessible arts festivals, and to serve as an umbrella organization for emerging and established arts groups seeking to reach wider audiences. The first event was remarkable: a citywide arts festival that combined an “explosion” of art activity with people’s “exposure” to all types of art. This month-long celebration of the arts featured 58 different performing groups and presented 560 artists in 16 sites around the city.

Since then, Artsplosure has put on dozens of other events, including the popular First Night® Raleigh beginning in 1992. Other events have included the Jazz & Blue Music Festival, a series of Arts Alive on Lichtin Plaza events, and the African American Cultural Festival.


Professional Staff

michaelMichael Lowder

Executive Director
Michael Lowder joined Artsplosure in 1997 and is responsible for all administrative duties related to agency operations and festival productions. He manages fundraising and sponsorship development, contract negotiations, volunteer recruitment, grants seeking and reporting, budget development and oversight, and interagency, public and government relations functions. Michael has more than 25 years of nonprofit and private sector professional experience, including positions with the NC Department of Cultural Resources, NC Symphony, NC Amateur Sports, United Arts Council of Greensboro, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, and Capital Consortium Fundraising Counsel. Michael initiated and organized the first Durham blues festival and planned and implemented the arts festival component of U.S. Olympic Festival ’87.

terriTerri Dollar

Program Director
Terri Dollar is responsible for artistic program planning and coordination, supervising technical and volunteer staff, and coordinating logistics of all on-site festival operations for each festival. She also assists the executive director in securing proposals for major visual arts installations and in preparing and negotiating artists’ contracts. A working actor and talent agency owner, Terri has been with Artsplosure since 1998, but has worn numerous hats over the course of her career, including: drama teacher at Broughton High School; performing arts and preschool director at Arts Together; creative consultant on local and regional award-winning television shows; and director of pageants and other productions and events throughout the South. In 2011, she was appointed to a term on the North Carolina Film Commission, and is an active member and officer of the NC Presenters Consortium.

Cameron-LawsCameron Laws

Marketing & PR Manager
Cameron Laws is thrilled to have just joined the Artsplosure team in September 2015. Cameron is responsible for all marketing, branding and press initiatives for the Artsplosure organization and its festivals. Her role with Artsplosure is a continuation of her involvement with the North Carolina arts community. During her time at NC State she served as a student coordinator for the first Arts Village living and learning community as well as a member of ARTS NC STATE and an intern at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design. Cameron is also an active volunteer with Girls Rock NC, teaching youth how to play guitar and perform original compositions alongside fellow creative and confident peer musicians. Previous to her return to Raleigh she lived in the volcanic tropics of Hawaii and the historic port city of Savannah, Georgia. Cameron’s hobbies include exploring the Triangle scene, electric guitars, carpentry, and producing art and design work through her artistic venture, Kingsnake Creative.

Emily HendersonEmily Henderson

Administrative Assistant and Vendor Coordinator
Emily Henderson is responsible for the planning and coordination of food and novelty vendors for each festival, managing on-site food and novelty vendor operations, and maintaining Artsplosure’s records and general office functions. As a part-time staff member, Emily is also a preschool assistant teacher and art teacher at Arts Together in downtown Raleigh, and a Box Office and Membership Associate at the North Carolina Museum of Art. She holds a B.A. in Art History and French Language and Literature from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. An artist in her own right, Emily enjoys the fine arts as a ceramicist, printmaker, and painter during her spare time.

Amira IshakAmira Ishak

University Intern
Amira Ishak is our university intern. She is completing a Bachelors of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations at North Carolina State University. She assists with food and novelty vendor coordination and also contributes to Artsplosure’s social media presence. Amira coordinated the Student Art Exhibition for the 2016 Artsplosure- the Raleigh Arts Festival. When she is not in school or interning at Artsplosure she works for her family’s food truck that serves local Lebanese and Greek cuisine. She loves to travel the world with her sisters and experience different cultures.

erin wadsworthErin Wadsworth

High School Intern
Erin Wadsworth is our very own high school intern. She is responsible for social media relations and other marketing functions. She attends Broughton High School as a junior, where she plays lacrosse and is an active member of the environmental club. Erin likes to travel with her family whenever she can, especially to Florida. In her free time, she hangs out with her friends, plays lacrosse, paddleboards on local lakes, and bakes. Erin hopes to learn all about Artsplosure and its marketing this year.


Contract Staff and Consultants

In addition to their permanent staff, Artsplosure fills other essential administrative and festival-related positions by contracting with some of the region’s most talented administrative, production, educational, programming and visual arts consultants. These include accountant and volunteer coordinator Glynda Westerbeek, ticket sales manager Natalie Garfield, technical supervisors Kemp English, spring Art Market co-coordinator Sarah Wolfe, sign and banner coordinator Nicole Rowe and children’s programming coordinator Leatha Koefler.

Each festival, a local agency generously serves as the event’s marketing sponsor to develop a comprehensive marketing campaign. In recent years, Artsplosure has partnered with Mottis, Three Post, Sinclair & Co., Metro Productions, R+M Agency, Front Door, Cherry Blossom Studio, CapStrat, Ulanguzi Creative Services, New Kind, Cross and Associates, CCA, and other local marketing agencies. Fleishman Hillard’s Triangle area office provides festival media and public relations services.


Board of Directors

A volunteer Board of Directors of up to 30 members governs Artsplosure. Members of the policy-making and governance body represent the organization’s broad constituency. The board maintains the efficacy of Artsplosure’s programming, fund development and sponsorship initiatives, and its members take on critical management and other essential volunteer leadership roles during each festival.


2016-2017 Members

Carolina Russell, President
Quest Academy

Julie Wood, Vice President
Office of Frank Daniels, Jr.

Elizabeth Hedrick, Secretary
Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP

Thomas Miller, Treasurer
SunTrust Wealth Management

Lori Vitale, Immediate Past-President
Vitale Family Law

Ann-Cabell Baum
The Glenwood Agency

Steve Bryan
American Institute of CPAs

Britt Carter
Fleishman Hillard International Communications

Carolyn Carter
NC State University

Clymer Cease
Clark Nexsen

Nick DiColandrea
Communities in Schools of Durham

Woody Dicus
Duke Progress Energy (Retired)

Christopher Dumais

Tom Hester
Hester & Company

Kacy L. Hunt 
NC Department of Transportation

Noel James
Art Consultant

Benji Jones
Smith Anderson Law Firm

Shelley S. Kelly

Lee Kirby
Smith Anderson Law Firm

Cynthia von der Lehr
Duke Home Care & Hospice

Linda Lillis
Duke Clinical Research Institute

Jennifer Nusbaum
Williams Mullen

Antonia A. Peck
Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP

Crystal Sadler
Local Government Federal Credit Union

Shan Teel
First Citizens Bank

Analia Wehe-Lehman
Hodge & Kitrell Sotheby’s International Realty