From silent discos to sound collages, the NextNOW Festival is one of the university’s most exhilarating early-semester activities. The performing arts showcase has everything from stand-up comedy to visual arts expos to concerts from the likes of The Districts and JPEGMAFIA. 

Set in the intimate setting of The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center lobby, student organizations and experimental works fill the performance halls and courtyards. The importance of NextNow continues, and not even a global pandemic can keep it from happening — it’s just going to look a little different this year.

To help figure out how NextNOW 2020 is going to look in September, The Clarice is throwing a virtual version of the festival. Part preview, part trial run, NextNOW SummerFest will have the same focus on artistic creativity, just on a smaller scale.

[Joan Didion’s ‘On Going Home’ still captures the timeless anxiety of returning ‘home’]

Over four days, the worlds of theatre, music and art will merge, with the entire festival being livestreamed on various Clarice-related social media platforms. Each day will have a different featured performance, including:

July 20: Waterbending 101

Combining the classic stylings of traditional watercoloring techniques with modern designs inspired by the show Avatar: The Last Airbender, NextNOW Fest curator Marjorie Antonio will show painters of any skill level how to bend water into beautiful landscapes. All that’s needed is a canvas, some paint, a paintbrush and an open mind to explore the world of the Four Nations through lively watercolor art.

July 21: Riding the Radio Waves

Need lo-fi beats for studying, reading or just chilling? Curator Kira Peck is here to ride the chillwave with you. In partnership with campus radio station WMUC 88.1, DJ Aishwarya Tare has selected a number of tunes for you to get lost in, bringing atmospheric soundscapes to NextNOW.

[Halle Berry’s apology isn’t enough]

July 22: Midsummer Night Showcase

Every year NextNOW opens its stages to artists from around the community of College Park, and for SummerFest, curator John Smith hosts a virtual open mic where anything can happen. Stand-up comedy, theatrical monologues, poetry readings and visual art presentations will bring the coffeehouse vibes while you stay cozy in the comfort of your own home. This artistic showcase will bring the laughs, the feels and the entertainment while mixing genres and styles. 

July 23: Black Folks Don’t Swim?

When they appeared during last year’s NextNOW Fest, Black Folks Don’t Swim? brought a unique sound to the halls of The Clarice. This self-described “world-based Black Queer-led movement of musicians, songwriters, composers and activists” aims to create comfortable spaces for people to connect, sing and meditate on sociocultural issues. Closing out this year’s SummerFest, the group will follow their performance with a post-show conversation.

All performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free to view. The Clarice encourages viewers to register for unrestricted access to all performances. To register for NextNOW SummerFest 2020, click here.