Supporters of Durham 150: Issue #20

Welcome to the Supporters of Durham 150 newsletter, designed to keep those interested in Durham’s sesquicentennial updated on all the planning activities surrounding the yearlong commemoration.


Review of the Closing Ceremony

Wow! We are still reveling after the Durham 150 Closing Ceremony that took place at DPAC on Saturday, November 2. It exceeded our hopes and dreams — the program and turnout were fantastic! We’ve received an outpouring of positive feedback and are grateful those of you in the audience were so engaged from start to finish.

Many thanks and high praise are in order for Steve Martin, producer and director of the Closing Ceremony. He took our various directives and packaged everything seamlessly, making our vision for the event come to life. As he mentioned in his producer’s note in an insert to the program (which, if you haven’t seen already, can be found here), Durham’s story is not easily told. Steve and his creative team nailed it, ensuring programming included both the good and the challenges from our history.

Steve pulled together an all-star creative team to make it all happen — a team Steve tells us everyone enthusiastically joined. We are in awe of and grateful for the work of the following individuals and teams (a full credit list and bios can be found starting on page 31 of the program):

  • Jim Wise, writer and narrator
  • Frank Stasio, narrator
  • Carol Thomson, video director
  • John Brown, music director
  • Howard Craft, playwright
  • JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, director
  • David Stein, future video project director
  • Joshua Gunn, lead composer

The historical narrative was compelling, the live acting captivating, and the music hit all the right notes. The ‘future video’ was entertaining and something the Durham Public School students should be proud of for years to come. The premiere performance of the anthem, “I Choose Durham,” brought down the house and was the perfect ending to wrap up the show and year. Bravo to all who performed and made the show come alive!

There are a million ‘thank yous’ that we’re still in the process of giving due credit. Here, we’d be remiss not to thank the incredible staff at DPAC and presenting sponsors Duke University and Duke Health. DPAC’s staff was always patient and insightful as we asked hundreds (maybe thousands?) of questions over the months, weeks and days leading up to the Closing Ceremony. DPAC has always been a wonderful partner of ours, but now that we have a better understanding of what it takes to pull off world-class events night in and night out, we’re even more appreciative of the work they do. Our same heartfelt thanks and gratitude goes to Duke University and Duke Health for their contributions in making the event such a success.

Many of you have asked for access to the footage and the script. We’re still sorting out permissions with rightsholders — as you can imagine, it is a long (but important!) process to reach out to the owners and keepers of all the photography featured and information gathered. We already are working with the North Carolina Collection at Durham County Library to ensure the yearlong sesquicentennial commemoration is archived, and we should have an update on that in the coming weeks as well.

We hope to have a video of the anthem performance soon, but for now, we encourage you to scroll through this photo album from the evening.

Got your Durham 150 merch?

We loved how many of you stopped by the merchandise table at DPAC during the Closing Ceremony! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, we have a limited number of t-shirts, hats, magnets, and stickers available at The items make for great holiday gifts, and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

A Self-Portrait

The year isn’t over yet! There is still one remaining Durham 150 Signature Event on the calendar: “Durham: A Self-Portrait 150” at the Carolina Theatre this Saturday, November 16, at 6 p.m. The original film, “Durham: A Self-Portrait,” premiered in 2007 and documented Durham’s early history. In a “Self-Portrait 150,” we’ll hear several diverse, passionate voices reflecting on Durham today and the city’s changes. General admission tickets are still on sale here, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Museum of Durham History. We hope to see you there!

150 Events and Counting

Y’all have done it! Earlier this month, we reached our goal of featuring 150+ community-led sesquicentennial-related events this calendar year. We’ve been blown away by the creativity, diversity, and meaningfulness of so many of the projects and events. Many thanks for bringing our vision to life.

There are a few events remaining for you to experience more of Durham’s past, present, and future this year. Find a searchable listing of all events here.

Film Screening: “Durham: A Self Portrait”
Durham 150 Signature Event
November 16, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Carolina Theatre
309 W. Morgan St., Durham, NC 27701

Race Across Durham Trail Marathon and 10-Miler
November 17, 2019
West Point Amphitheater
5253 N. Roxboro St., Durham, NC 27712

Uplifting Activist Women in Durham History: An Interactive Exhibit and Zine Project
Durham 150 Grantee
November 24, 2019
3 p.m.
Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park
1313 Halley St., Durham, NC 27707

Historical Note

It was certainly fitting to host the Closing Ceremony in the largest performing arts center in the state. We all know that DPAC is a one-of-a-kind live entertainment venue, but did you know that it’s the largest Broadway stage between Washington D.C. and Atlanta? Or, that almost four out of every five show-goers come from outside of Durham? Since DPAC’s opening in 2008, the visitor spending and economic impact generated by events that DPAC hosts totals more than $785 million. Over the last 10 years, DPAC has received regional and national recognition and awards as one of the top theaters in the nation — we can see why. Many thanks again to our friends at DPAC for hosting the Closing Ceremony!


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