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Artsplosure is an art festival held each year in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, focused in the Moore Square Historic District. This Raleigh Arts Festival has been the premier arts festival in central North Carolina for 30 years with attendance reaching 80,000. Artsplosure has dozens of corporate and media sponsors.
About the Festival
The event includes over 170 visual artists showing and selling their work on the streets surrounding Moore Square in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. In the park, award-winning musicians perform live on a main stage throughout the weekend, large-scale art installations are displayed, and Kidsplosure offer crafts and performances just for children. The event is free to the public.
Artsplosure 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.
Several museums typically participate in the Artsplosure Festival such as The Contemporary Art Museum, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, Raleigh City Museum, and Marbles Kids Museum. There is a Student Art Exhibition and collaborations with arts advocacy groups such as the Triangle Potters Guild. The Triangle Potters Guild is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public and to arouse interest at all levels of skill in the practice, standards, ethics and appreciation of the ceramic arts. Other cultural events are coordinated to run consecutively with Artsplosure such as The Annual Downtown Raleigh Home Tour
Artsplosure was conceived in 1978 by subcommittees of the newly formed City of Raleigh Arts Commission who were planning a citywide arts festival that would combine an "explosion" of art activity with people's "exposure" to all types of art. The following year, Artsplosure was incorporated to produce high quality and accessible arts festivals and to identify, nurture, and showcase artists seeking to reach wider audiences.
The first city-wide multi-disciplinary arts festival took place in April 1980 in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects conference. Artsplosure has presented thousands of established and emerging artists whose works span across many disciplines and art forms in both traditional and non-traditional indoor venues and outdoor settings.
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.
Kidsplosure is a festival within a festival. Joyful Noise is an event where kids morph air into music using repurposed materials to create unique wind chimes. Cozy Caterpillars is an opportunity for kids to create elaborate creepy crawlies with recycled paper products. Winged Wonders provides children with the opportunity to create winged wonders while being kind to the planet. Kids Rock Artsplosure takes place at Marbles Kids Museum.
Participatory Art in the Park
Each year there are many Participatory Art events for the public. For example, giant bubble wands sculptor Lou Horton creates groups of bubble wands from steel and invites Artsplosure participants to come and make their own wands. Visitors can engage in a life-size game of chess on a board and pieces designed by scrap metal sculptor Lyle Estill.
The Paperhand Puppet Intervention builds creatures like Polyphemus Plexippus, a giant caterpillar puppet that is a beautifully colored interactive sculpture that can be enjoyed by both viewers and participants alike. It gives viewers the sense that they themselves have shrunk down to the size of an ant and are looking up at the world from a tiny perspective. Adults and children are invited to climb inside and become the legs and moving mandibles of the caterpillar. More than a dozen people at a time are able to take it for a spin around the Artsplosure festival, creating a series of crawling, chewing, mini-parades throughout the day.
Arward-winning builders of Sand Sculpture such as Ed Moore and his team turn tons of sand into a works of art. He has won numerous sand sculpture contests at Virginia Beach, Atlantic Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Atlanta. He has also participated in the World Championships in British Columbia and sculpted with master sand sculptors from Florida to California.
Other Festival Programs
Artslosure is produced by the non-profit arts organization of the same name located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Other Artsplosure events include First Night Raleigh and Arts Alive on Lichtin Plaza.