The Academy Center of the Arts is thrilled to announce the beginning of the Artist in Residency program, a new collaboration with local artists, offering them opportunities to contribute their creativity for in-house initiatives. Serving as the inaugural Artist in Residence is the authentically talented author and advocate, Nick George the Poet!
The Artist in Residency program gives artists like Nick the ability to have their voices heard and echoed loudly throughout the Greater Lynchburg community. Academy Executive Director, Geoffrey Kershner, has had a long-standing relationship with Nick George, both professionally and as a friend. “I continually observed Nick’s generosity when it came to providing his talents to a number of organizations and entities for free. I didn’t think this was fair or appropriate. Art is work and work deserves to be compensated.” Kershner voices, “I also saw an opportunity to engage our audiences and students in new ways through an artist on our team, who could step in and provide a more enriching experience and message across our programs and initiatives. The Academy could finally provide Nick what he richly deserved, compensation for his talents while also helping us deliver the mission of our organization more fully.”
You might already be familiar with Nick George the Poet – from witnessing his curtain speeches at various Academy shows and organizations to hearing his inspirational poems on the internet, Nick George is a fierce advocate for creativity and humanity. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, but has been a resident of the Lynchburg area for over a decade, Nick George is no stranger to the community. He comes from a strong background in spoken word and has performed to many audiences across many stages, including at 2017 TedXCharlottesville, where he requested that you clap (don’t snap) for art. Watch Nick perform his poem, “A Journey in Identity”, in the Historic Academy Theatre below.
“It is such an honor to be the inaugural Artist in Residence with the Academy! I can imagine this being the beginning of an awesome legacy of creativity within our community.” George states, “This role means a lot to me personally, but I also hope that it will grow to be an indelible part of the local creative community. Fulfilling this role allows me the chance to explore what it means to be an artist in 2021. As a poet, it gives me a chance to place the art of poetry and spoken word in the larger cultural narrative of the Hill City. It would be awesome for more poets to emerge in our community!”
Nick is titling his year-long residency with the Academy, “IMAGINE”. He believes that the arts are a vehicle for imagination and change, “Together with the Academy, I would like to encourage curiosity, action, and exploration. Through four different seasons, I will invite the community to participate in various creative workshops and events, as well as a chance to be a source of inspiration and imagination for each other!”
WINTER – “Dream in Color”, Cordae
SPRING – “Imagine”, Common
SUMMER – “I Wish”, Stevie Wonder
AUTUMN – “F.T.B.”, Robert Glasper
The Academy is excited to be collaborating with Nick and for the next year of working with him, as well as for the future of the Artist in Residency program. Expect monthly poetry events, writing workshops, and so much more! “We are committed to engaging artists annually who will help us address “the moment” through artistic expression,” says Geoffrey Kershner. “We imagine a wide range of genres, mediums, and vantage points will be utilized in the years ahead, each tasked with not only engaging in a dialogue with our community but also leaving a legacy of their residency through a tangible work or works of art. Stay tuned for Nick’s contribution.”
So next time you hear a fantastic poem, experience a show that moves you or sees a painting that speaks to you – don’t snap. Clap, because here, at the Academy Center of the Arts, art is always in residence.
Get to know Nick a little bit more below!
How did you get started as a poet?
“My introduction to poetry and creative writing happened in middle and high school, back home in New Jersey. Mr. Beckworth and Ms. Zai’mah were two of my teachers that challenged me to find my voice in poetry. I started there and haven’t turned back yet!”
What are your biggest inspirations? Where does your inspiration come from when writing?
“Life itself is a massive source of inspiration. This experience of people and community and spirituality and conflict is fertile territory for creatives, like writers and dancers, and painters. Personally, I find much inspiration from other artists and creatives. I also find myself inspired by musicians and lyricists across the creative spectrum, from Common to John Coltrane to Hiatus Kaiyote to Lizzo.”
Any advice to up-and-coming poets and artists alike?
“When it comes to giving creative advice, I’ve learned to manage my thoughts more carefully. An artist’s journey is deeply personal, and I would hate to dilute another creative person’s process, especially if they’re hoping to develop themselves more authentically as an artist. Generally, I would encourage artists to lean in and explore more. There’s so much more than what we may have been exposed to. To poets and spoken word artists specifically, I would encourage them to continue reading more and listening more actively. We all use words, and we all use them differently. Let’s imagine and explore more!”