AMS has contracted with a team of artists Team S.T.A.R. (Solidarity Team of Artistic Revolutionaries) to design, host, and participate in community engagement opportunities that ensure all of Durham is represented in the new cultural plan.
In July 2023, AMS, alongside the City and County, advertised a Request for Qualifications for the Creative Community Partner opportunity. This RFQ offered both individuals and teams of up to five to be selected to join the team for the year. In addition to their primary focus of engagement, the Creative Community Partners will assist with the development of the new plan.
A review team representing the Cultural Roadmap Planning Group reviewed the 37 applications received. Team S.T.A.R was their recommendation for contracting to AMS.
Watch this page for a schedule of events designed and hosted by the Creative Community Partners.
Claire Alexandre is a queer Afro-Caribbean public artist and student of ecologies. Through mixed media paintings and street art, her work centers abolition, community prosperity, Diaspora folklore and sustainable land stewardship. Claire understands her art to be the material form of a radical imagination. It is a powerful tool she chooses to use to counter narratives that have repeatedly harmed people and places in her community, particularly women and queer BIPOC and their ability to relate to their environment. She also speaks fluent French and Spanish. Claire is excited at the opportunity to participate in shaping a tool that will build solidarity across Durham and be of aid to artists of all ages to find their place in our community.
Dr. Amanda Bennett is a queer Black Southern poet and educator living in Durham, North Carolina. As a doctoral candidate at Duke University, she completed a dissertation centering practices of Black femme magic within Black women’s literary history. As a graduate student, she collaborated with her students to create the community poetry workshop series “Poetry as Pedagogy: Finding Healing and Community Through Writing.” Previously, Amanda has published her short fiction and poetry in Obsidian, Triangle Poets Series, The Concern Reading Series, Murder Journal, and Jellyfish Magazine. She has performed her poetry at Triangle poetry reading series including Octopod, Paradiso, Death Faire, and P.E.S.C.Y. She is also the founder of the Black feminist consulting and education collective, ”define&empower”. Amanda is interested in being involved in the Durham Cultural Roadmap because she wants to draw on established connections within the Durham poetry community to continue developing spaces for poetry and creative expression that center queer and trans people of color.
Littlebird Dee creates as a singer, piano player, signer, weaver, farmer, potter, knitter, needle felter and connector. They are drawn to spaces, communities and places that welcome exuberant expression, curate containers for grief and seek out joy. They identify as a white, queer/trans/nonbinary, chronically ill/Disabled, autistic littlebird with values and intentions deeply rooted in the Justice and Liberation Movements. Born and raised in the Triangle region, they now spend their time between the Piedmont and the Mountain regions. From the first moment they saw the call for Creative Community Partners they knew this was a project that needed queer artists, organizers, POC leadership and Disabled voices speaking at the table. With their skills in connecting and resourcing their community, organizing and collaborative team building they are ecstatic for the involvement in this project with this well-resourced team to keep Durham’s expansive creativity true to the heart of the people in this city.
Maxine Eloi is an award-winning filmmaker, actor, musician, writer and director, classically trained at Boston University the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Maxine has continued to pursue their creative passions through film, theater and music since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Maxine has acted in over a dozen films, including sci-fi fantasy feature film The Broken Swards and her award-winning film, Sunday Funday. Maxine has most recently been cast as one of the leads in a film produced by Durham based production studio Comfrey Films, Under False Colors; this film will be coming out in 2024. They are a company member of Theater Delta, Aggregate, Vault, Rise Up and Curious Theatre Collective. Maxine also acts, writes, produces and directs on the comedy web series Dot Org, a mockumentary series available on Vimeo and Youtube. Maxine believes that through art, storytelling, community and education, we can collectively move toward liberation.
Taari Felice is an artivist looking to find truth through the way love expresses itself on Earth; creating whatever they can to tell the stories that seek them, find them, trust them. They spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that individualism, exceptionalism, and many of the other -isms of the world have jaded love and actively work to keep us separated from both each other and the earth itself. Taari creates to express and release some of the deep pain felt from the ways so many of us are systematically deprioritized; how decisions made about us, without us, are never for us. They create, seeking connection with those who know that a better world is possible and are ready to build it. Taari currently lives in Durham.
Durham Central Park
Photo: Ryan Moeller