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Not long after I started working here at the Foundation did I starting dreaming about the possibilities of having a few bands out in the grassy area behind our gorgeous office. I’ve seen a few bands play sets in fields and it’s one of the best ways to see a show. Our CEO is all about building community, and nothing brings people together better than music, so the idea has always been bopping around in my brain.

When we started planning this month’s art themed RTP: 180, the team knew we wanted to focus on more than just visual art. The Triangle is a place rich with a variety of creativity, and we wanted to throw an event that really celebrated that in a fun, yet geeky way.

Unfortunately, one of the Research Triangle Park’s best kept secrets is that one of the earliest organizations to locate within the Park was the National Humanities Center. Our commitment to celebrating the intersection of art and science goes back to before I was born (in 1987, in case you were wondering).

So, this month we really blew it out of the water to bring you a show that’s filled with science, bugs, art and music. We’re lucky to have partners that get just as excited about these things as we do, and are willing to spend the time to plan and come on the third Thursday of the month to hang out.

If you weren’t able to snag a ticket before they sold out in 10 days, have no fear! The livestream will be set up and you’ll have the opportunity to hear these seven fine people speak tomorrow:

Aaron Shackelford of UNC-Chapel Hill is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Carolina Performing Arts. He works with factuality, artists and students to create opportunities for people to connect the performing arts into their ideas and daily lives. He’ll be speaking on Arts@TheCore: The Value of the Arts across Campus.

If you haven’t heard Greg Lowenhagen’s name, you definitely know the festival he founded. Hopscotch is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year in downtown Raleigh, and is also expanding to include the two-day Hopscotch Design Festival. Greg will have five minutes to speak on The Positive Financial and Cultural Impact of Music in the Triangle.

The NCMA Contemporaries group has great events, and recently I was fortunate enough to attend one that William Brown helped to lead. He is the Chief Conservator at the museum and uses a whole bevy of instruments (everything from lasers to sponges) to restore and care for the collection.

Beth Yerxa is a force. I believe I first met Beth at a RTP: 180 event, and I’ve been impressed by the work she does as an arts advocate in the Triangle. From an environmental lawyer to the executive director of Triangle Artworks, Beth is going to tell us about her two crazy ideas about supporting Triangle artists.

Sculptures that serve as a love motels for bugs…yup. That’s how Dr. Brandon Ballengee described his art. They’re intended to help insects native to North Carolina come together and mate. His work will be on display. Outside, of course.

Each year, the Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory (CHANL) at UNC-CH organizes a Scientific Art Competition. Carrie Donley leads this charge, and is going to take the stage for five minutes to tell us why art is important to scientist. Prepare for beautiful imagery on this one!

At every RTP 180, there’s usually one brilliant scientist that does amazing work that goes right over my head. For this edition, it’s Duke scientist Martin Fischer. In plain terms, Martin is going to talk about using lasers to peer under the surface of artwork. I can’t wait to learn what “nonlinear optical contrast mechanisms for high-resolution 3d imaging in biological tissue and artwork” means!

While our speakers will be indoors like always, outside there will be some real fun. Once the lightening talks are over Randy’s pizza will be served and the LondeRider beer will flow once more. Then, I get to see a miniature version of my music-in-the-field dreams come

We’re also going to have exhibitors from Research Triangle High School selling t-shirts made of cotton grown right here in North Carolina, NCMA will be on hand doing live screen print demos, and we’ll have Vitreous Humor Art Glass.

It’s not quite a full blow music and arts festival, but in the spirit of all things RTP, it’s our beta version of something we might like to try on a larger scale one day.