The Clarice’s Festival Brings Art and Performance Awareness to Campus

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The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center used to shut its doors on game day.

Football fans’ cheers would fill Byrd Stadium next door as the university’s center for music and theater sat silent, holding out on the arts until a quieter day.

But not anymore.

On Sept. 13, The Clarice will host a tailgate of its own with craft expos, musical performances and acrobatic stunts. The center’s Arts Tailgate will even feature a make-your-own-instrument event where participants can construct their own instruments and then march alongside The Mighty Sound of Maryland.

In addition to the Arts Tailgate, The Clarice is hosting more than 50 artistic events and performances, most of which are free, as part of the NextNOW Festival running from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday: 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Friday: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We wanted to … welcome students back to campus and … showcase the artistic and creative talent of the university,” said Martin Wollesen, The Clarice’s executive director.

NextNOW includes everything from The Neo-Futurists theater group to the Jazz Professors ensemble to sonic massages by Wollesonic Labs. It’s intended to draw in new audiences as well as introduce current audiences to new art forms, Wollesen said.

“We wanted to help folks explore, discover and have fun,” Wollesen said.

Stephanie Miracle, a recent university dance program graduate, said the festival is a great opportunity for students to see performances they might not normally watch.

“[The NextNOW Festival] has a similar feel to Maryland Day,” Miracle said, who is premiering her interactive dance piece, GROOVE, Thursday to Friday night. “There’s a lot going on, but it’s really art-focused.”

Another goal of NextNOW is to help reshape the image of The Clarice, as the arts center, formerly known as CSPAC, seeks to become more accessible to students, Wollesen said.

Adam Weiner, senior computer science major and Terrapin Beats Society president, said he has found The Clarice much more accessible for his club.

Weiner reached out to the arts center in the past about staging a DJ performance but had little success until recently, he said. Now, Terrapin Beats is scheduled to round out Friday’s events with a live concert from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

“It’s absolutely no holds barred, and I appreciate that,” Weiner said. “It’s the beginning of the semester, you don’t have to study yet so you have no excuse to miss it.”

Students like sophomore journalism major Naomi Harris said she was especially interested in the musical performances and thought others would be as well.

“I really love [the premise of the festival] because it’s bringing music to campus,” Harris said. “We’re so close to D.C., but it’s great to have a local scene here as well.”


writersblocheadshots02Joe Zimmermann is a junior English and journalism major and can be reached at

5 responses to “The Clarice’s Festival Brings Art and Performance Awareness to Campus”

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