Partying and Previewing at Culture Collision

It was certainly hard to believe when we were stuck in the sweaty doldrums after Hurricane Isaac, but one of the perennial glory times of life in Louisiana is on the way.  Fall will be here soon, and in addition to cooler weather it will bring all the busy schedules, double-booked events, annual festivals, football weekends and general seasonal gratitude that autumn augurs here.

That means another sort of season is about to begin, too—the New Orleans cultural season. That’s culture in the big sense of the word, with art exhibits, music, opera, dance and theater; a special preview of this season happens tonight.

It’s called Culture Collision, and each year it assembles a large and varied range of arts organizations and cultural groups from around the area. Tonight’s edition takes place at Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Drive), the events space in the Warehouse District. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. people can tour around the various booths and tables representing each group. From 8 to 10 p.m. the party continues with a show by Ratty Scurvics, the incredibly prolific local musician whose gigs blend performance art and alt rock. DJ Matty, turntable maestro of the long-running Mod Dance Party, is also on the Culture Collision bill, along with an appearance by the Pussyfooters, perhaps New Orleans’ best-dressed marching club. 

About 60 arts and cultural groups will be on hand to show what they have coming up and to offer ways for people to access them or try them out with special promotions. If you’ve vowed to get more involved with the New Orleans arts and cultural scene – from simply joining a group as a member to volunteering to put your talents to work for their programs – this is the place to shop around for opportunities.

There’s always the threat that whenever so many folding tables and pamphlets are gathered in one place such an event will come off like a convention or trade show. But this is New Orleans, so instead it takes the form of a party, with an extended happy hour timeframe, free food, a free raffle and cash bars around the venue. Admission is also free.

For the organizations taking part, the event is designed to stoke cross-pollination between the members and fans of different groups, art forms and art scenes. It works from the idea that people need to know about all that’s going on around town if they’re to participate in it.

For the public, it’s essentially a chance to preview cultural events coming up this fall (like productions planned by the New Orleans Opera Association, the Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Orleans Ballet Association), to learn firsthand about festivals (from the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival to Fringe Fest to the Birdfoot Chamber Music Festival) and to get the scoop on organizations across the spectrum (from the ever-growing National World War II Museum to grassroots groups like the New Orleans Craft Mafia).

The programming of these many participants certainly is diverse, which is what the “collision” part of Culture Collision is about. But there’s something important that they share, and that’s the social animal that is the New Orleans patron. Give us a chance to see different corners of our city’s cultural riches in one place, package it as an easygoing, after work party, and the various tribes come out in force.

That should be in ample evidence as Culture Collision picks up tonight.

Want to go? Click here for more details about the event.

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