Spotlight on: NextNOW Fest Student Curators!

NextNOW Fest is tomorrow, and we’re excited to introduce you to our student curators who helped co-curate the fest this year! UMD students Jacob Wills, Emily Gorey and Hunter Jones worked closely with Megan Pagado Wells, Associate Director of the Artist Partner Program, and the numerous faculty, staff and students who make the fest happen.

Our student curators worked so hard to bring you an unforgettable weekend of music, theater, comedy, visual arts and more. We’re excited for you to experience the magic they’ve helped to create!

“The process of curating NextNOW Fest has been a million times more fun and rewarding than I expected,” shared Emily. “We each came to the table with different assets, but all had a common goal and passion to make NextNOW Fest 2018 the best year yet. Watching the festival come together has been awesome.”

Hunter shared similar sentiments. She says, “Curating has really helped me understand the production that is necessary to create the artistic things that I like to indulge in. This experience has been wonderful because I've been able to be so hands-on during the creation process of NextNOW. The process was along the lines of what I expected, but I didn't know I would have so much fun doing it all!”

Most of our guest artists were hand-picked by our student curators, and both Hunter and Emily named Ari Lennox as an artist you definitely don’t want to miss.

“I had never heard her stuff before, but Hunter suggested her as a performer,” Emily says. “Right away, I was obsessed. Her music isn’t within the genres I usually stick to. Listening to Ari has lead me down a rabbit hole of new music and has expanded my taste. In the end, that’s what NextNOW Fest is about: discovering new artists, creators, and makers and diversifying your tastes.”

CupcakKe is another favorite, also recommended to the team by Hunter. “I remember sitting in a meeting and suggesting CupcakKe to the team,” she says. “Here we are now with CupcakKe booked, and I'm pretty excited. Megan had put emphasis on having a diverse and representative festival, and I thought CupcakKe was perfect. Her music is so unique and focuses on issues such as sexuality, race and inclusion.”

We loved getting recommendations and the perspective from our student curators throughout the planning process to create an arts festival for students, by students. We are also excited to create learning opportunities that can lead to a successful career.

“I would totally do this as a job,” Emily told us. “It combines so many passions of mine and has showed me how rewarding long-term planning can be. Better yet, having a hand in creating a sense of community while helping to promote the arts is just too good. I have loved every second of planning NextNOW Fest, and hope I can find a job one day just as fulfilling as this has been.”