Artsplosure, The Raleigh Arts Festival, is founded as a non-profit organization. Subcommittees of the City of Raleigh Arts Commission worked to raise funds and plan the first event. The primary goal of Artsplosure at that time was to raise the visibility of the arts in Raleigh.
The first city-wide multi-disciplinary arts festival took place in April 1980 in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects conference. A wide variety of musical styles were featured in 58 programs presented in 16 different sites of the city. Participatory arts activities for children and adults rounded out the week-long celebration of Spring. “Picnics In The Park” — a series of lunch time performances in Moore Square Park — Monday through Friday, led up to the main weekend’s activities.
A “networking” relationship was struck with The Preservation Jazz group who presented jazz concerts in the Raleigh Little Theatre Rose Garden to coincide with the festival.
The Artsplosure board of planners separated from the Raleigh Arts Commission. Pullen Park became the primary venue for festival activities.
Working in conjunction with PineCone, The Piedmont Council for Traditional Music, Artsplosure produced the first Heritage Festival in Mordecai Park.
Before the cement was dry, “Jazz on the Mall,” the Preservation Jazz concert during Artsplosure, was the first concert held in the newly renovated Civic Center Plaza. A year later Artsplosure produced its first Jazz Festival in the fall and began programming its events on the Fayetteville Street Mall to help with Downtown Raleigh revitalization.
The Jazz Festival and the Heritage Festival were combined into one Jazz & Heritage Festival that took place in the fall.
The next year Artsplosure left Heritage Festival programming to PineCone and repositioned its fall event as the Jazz & Blues Music Festival, held on Fayetteville Street Mall. Artsplosure moved the heart of the Spring Festival from the Fayetteville Street Mall to Moore Square Park. The “Picnics in the Park” lunch time performances were changed to the “Jazz Lunch” performances on Fayetteville Street Mall.
Each September for five years, Artsplosure produced a popular Jazz and Blues Music Festival in addition to the spring event. This event was merged with the Spring Festival into one major, family-oriented festival for the first time in May 1993.
The new Spring Arts Festival is unique in the region with the combination of headliner jazz and blues, visual art and participatory activities. What began as a modest street fair has evolved into an annual multi-disciplinary Spring Arts Festival, joining artists from around the nation with local businesses to present an exciting week of visual and performing arts. Close to 200 artists and crafts people show their work in the juried exhibition each spring.
Artsplosure’s mission is to produce high quality annual festivals that celebrate excellence in the performing and visual arts; to promote and bring recognition to national, regional, and local artists; and to bring artists and the larger community together to improve the quality of life and cultural environment.
Artsplosure 03 Spring Arts Festival Production Team
Michael Lowder, Executive Director
Terri Dollar, Program Director
Ellen Landau, Business Manager
Crista Misenheimer, Operations Assistant
Paul Siceloff, Media Coordinator
Jeff Linker, Technical Supervisor
Jamie Butler, Kidsplosure Coordinator
Matthew A. Smith, Volunteer Coordinator
Nikki Young, Gallery in the Park Coordinator
Carter Worthy & Tom Hester, Honorary Chairs
Artsplosure Board of Directors
Ken Barnes, President
Ann-Cabell Baum Andersen, Immediate Past President
Lee Kirby, Vice President
Camille Patterson, Secretary
Diane Gupton Becton, Treasurer
Pearl Wilson Smith
Beth S. Traynham
Kieran Shanahan, City Council Liaison