Visitors to downtown Raleigh can expect some most spectacular interactive events this weekend: over 200 unique shows, acts and exhibits including art, music, dance, comedy, fashion and much more that make up the eighth annual SPARKcon.
What exactly is SPARKcon?
Aly Khalifa, one of the founders, described SPARKcon as an artistic body composed of individual cells.
Theres IdeaSPARK, PoetrySPARK, FashionSPARK... he said. Within each cell, a group of volunteers create events, and theres no limit to the number. There are over 2,000 people displaying their talents this year.
Big and free
All SPARKcon events are free and unticketed.
We think its the biggest event of its kind, Khalifa boasted. Its open source, so its for anyone who wants to tap into the creative community. We dont know exactly whats going to happen at these events.
SPARKcon is always a surprise. Some attendees perform in flash mobs. They paint on the streets and wear costumes.
Craig Rudewiczs costume this year will be a 22-foot-long wire and paper maché sandworm from the movie Beetlejuice.
Im running FilmSPARK, Rudewicz said. We wanted to do something to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Beetlejuice. Whats better than a sandworm?
Some of the SPARKS
MusicSPARK spotlights local bands. Expect both up-and-coming artists and more established names. For the second year, the Young Guns category will present 12 acts by talented local musicians under 21 years old.
Something new this year is SwearSPARK, a collaboration between ComedySPARK and TheatreSPARK.
For this one, ComedySPARK and TheatreSPARK members are getting together to act out 32 swearwords, and the audience will vote on their favorites, said Rudewicz. We thought there should be at least one drinking SPARK event, so this is it.
If swear words arent your thing, ComedySPARK is also doing a clean stand-up show on the R-Line bus from 4 to 6 Saturday.
Theres also a BazaarSPARK on Friday afternoon, where artisans line up to sell their wares, and bright street paintings start to appear as Fayetteville Street closes to traffic.
And dont forget FilmSPARK, which showcases movies, especially those by local artists.
Connect the SPARKS
The ultimate goals of SPARKcon, according to Khalif, are to connect local people with the artistic communities they seek and to showcase Raleigh in the world of art.
Basically, its a skill-share, said Khalif. Our vision is not to tell people what the creative process is but to have a platform for artists to demonstrate leadership. CircusSPARK, for example, started with one kids clowning event during DanceSPARK, and someone decided to expand it. Now theres aerial dancing, juggling workshops, a fire show its one of the most popular SPARKS.
The SPARKcon participants often stay involved from year to year.
One year someone might be a model for FashionSPARK, and the next, a fashion designer, Khalif said. They come back later as a SPARK organizer. Ive seen artists careers take off, and thats exciting!