By Sara Karlovitch

The Clarice Performing Arts Center is holding its fourth annual NextNOW Fest from Saturday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Sept. 16.

NextNOW Fest has been a tradition of The Clarice for four years as a way to welcome both new and returning students to campus. Martin Wollesen, the executive director of The Clarice said NextNOW fest was started as a way to “welcome and welcome back new and returning students to the University of Maryland, but to have that welcome be a fun, creative, interactive, participatory set of experiences.”

The 2017 lineup is packed with both student artists and outside performers. Artists like the Jazz Professors, Lido Pimienta and MILCK join the lineup with student groups like TOTUS Spoken Word Showcase to put on a packed weekend of dance, art and music. This year’s NextNOW Fest will, of course, also include the famous Silent Disc-Glo.  

Several alumni from this university will also be performing, including alumni play commissions.

However, what may turn out to be the most powerful and moving installation at NextNOW Fest this year may be the mural collaboration between this university and Bowie State University.

“This year we’re in collaboration with student curators, we’ve sort of saw the festival as an arts festival with a voice, trying to create an inclusive space for Terps to build community and explore relevant ideas and issues through the arts,” said Megan Pagado Wells, one of the main organizers for NextNOW Fest.

The mural will be made up of four panels, with both colleges keeping two of the completed project. The mural will be worked on during NextNOW Fest by art classes from both universities, according to Pagado Wells.

Pagado Wells said both classes were “collaborating to design a mural that touches on unity, taking a stand against divisiveness, peace and justice. It’s just a way for the two campuses to work together through issues that exists and do so in a creative way.”

The mural will not be the only socially motivated installation at the festival. Many performers are going to be bringing social issues into their installations. For example, MILCK, whose song Quiet became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March, is partnering with Voices of Social Change Series to not only perform, but to talk about how she uses her art as activism.  

“NextNOW Fest … always tries to work with artists who are exploring issues that are relevant through our communities and that our communities care about,” Pagado Wells said. “I think this year it became even more important to highlight that work and continue that work in a really intentional way.”

NextNOW Fest will take place at The Clarice from Saturday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Admission is free and no tickets are required.

Featured Photo Credit: A young girl watches as actors performing as janitors combat the monster that emerges from the dumpster display, Dumpster Monster, at NextNOW Fest (Ryan Eskalis/Bloc Photographer).

Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at



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