The Art of Cool Festival—which, for the past few years, has been a late-April staple for downtown Durham—is facing some big changes in 2018. Tonight, the festival announced a change in ownership and dates, as well as its headliners for this year’s festival.
The festival itself has been sold to the DOME Group, an entertainment promotion company headed by Soulaiman Mausi, a graduate of North Carolina Central University. The company regularly promotes shows at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and the company has offices in both Durham and Detroit.
Previously, the festival fell under the umbrella of the nonprofit Art of Cool Project, which launched as an initiative to promote and develop jazz talent and audiences in the Triangle. Art of Cool Project co-founders Cicely Mitchell and Al Strong will remain a part of the festival, shaping its music programming.
In a press release, Mitchell noted, “This acquisition with The DOME Group LLC will allow the festival to operate in a better place financially, and allow it to continue to bring quality programming to the area and
expand the festival brand at a faster rate.”
They’re already following through on that quality programming for the festival’s fifth year. Along with the festival’s logistical changes, Art of Cool announced its first headliners: Nas, Erykah Badu, Damien Escobar, Sons of Kemet, Iman Omari and Sango. More will come as the festival date approaches, and we’ll keep you posted on those rolling additions.
The festival will be held September 28 and 29, and tickets will go on sale to the public on April 27 (though there’s a presale on the 25th). If you already purchased tickets for 2018 after last year’s festival, they will still be honored. If you already bought tickets but can’t make it to the festival’s new dates, you can get a refund via EventBrite through April 27. Its big venue this year is not the Durham Performing Arts Center, but the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
If you’re a voracious fan of local music festivals, Art of Cool’s move will make your September even more busy. It joins Hopscotch, the Beats N Bars hip-hop festival, and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass that month (there’s also SparkCon and CenterFest, two more wide-ranging arts and cultural festivals).