UVA Arts & the Tom Tom Foundation
The Tom Tom Summit & Festival has, since its inception, been a symbol and example of the power of collaboration. As the organization, which champions innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in America’s small cities, has evolved, so have its connections throughout the Charlottesville and UVA communities, including UVA Arts. This past Spring, that connection was further deepened at the national gathering with a series of events that explored the vital connections between the arts and the communities which they reflect and improve. In particular, UVA Arts championed the Creative Ecosystems Conference which explored social justice through the arts, among other initiatives. “We are honored to work with UVA Arts to build creative community together in Charlottesville and beyond,” said Paul Beyer, Founder and Director of the Tom Tom Foundation and the Tom Tom Summit & Festival. “Through our partnership, we collaborate with students and faculty on both temporary and permanent projects, from murals and art buses to public performances and installations. Our local community and country at-large needs this vibrant cultural ecosystem of galleries, museums, nonprofits, institutions, philanthropists—and of course, artists, dancers, writers, and performers—all working together.”
This past year’s collaboration kicked off with a free screening (thanks to UVA Arts) of the groundbreaking blockbuster Black Panther, a community gathering and fundraiser for Charlottesville's Abundant Life Ministries, African American Teaching Fellows, and City of Promise. Other highlights of the UVA Arts connection in the 2019 Tom Tom program included the continuation of the artist-in-residency program, which this year featured UVA Studio Art Assistant Professor Federico Cuatlacuatl, a Mexican Indigenous artist and DACA recipient whose life and work have been focused on bridging cultural gaps, and whose work and scholarship are largely focused on Latinx immigration, social art practice, and social sustainability. UVA Arts and The Fralin Museum of Art partnered with Tom Tom this year to present the 2019 Keynote Talk for the Creative Ecosystems Conference on April 11 by renowned citizen artist Vanessa German. German returned to Charlottesville after her highly acclaimed recent exhibition at The Fralin. German, known for exploring the power of love and art as a transformative force in the dynamic cultural ecosystem of communities and neighborhoods, is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative for children in her Homewood neighborhood in Pittsburgh. She has enjoyed great acclaim in exhibits in leading museums around the country.
UVA Faculty presenters always abound at Tom Tom, and 2019 had perhaps the most robust lineup yet. A.D. Carson, Assistant Professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South in the McIntire Department of Music, offered conference attendees and The Cheats Movement podcast listeners a look at the role of hip-hop in higher education. Barbara Brown Wilson, author and Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture, moderated a talk on “Creative Placemaking for All.” Alison Wright, the Executive Editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review, spoke with Kentucky-based novelist Robert Gipe about “Art, Appalachia, and the Opioid Crisis.”