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Carolina Performing Arts Blog

UNC-Chapel Hill receives $1M grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for innovative arts program

// Jul 8,2016

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – July 8, 2016) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been awarded a new four-year, $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) to launch and develop the DisTIL (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) Fellowship program.

The grant builds on the recent success of the Mellon Foundation-funded Arts@TheCore initiative from 2012, which emphasized the important role faculty play in the work of a university-based performing arts presenting program.

With DisTIL, CPA re-invents the relationship between the artist and the academy. CPA will invite select artists on campus for multi-week, multi-year research residencies, ensuring fellows sufficient time, space and resources to establish productive intellectual and creative relationships with Carolina’s distinguished faculty that go beyond performance.

The fellowship will be awarded to four artists who are active thought leaders in their fields and have expressed a desire to work collaboratively, across disciplines in a university setting. Each fellow will be embedded in a specific academic unit within a department or school to experiment and evolve in new directions.

“As a university arts presenter, I believe CPA can play an important role in advancing artistic and academic discovery,” said Emil Kang, CPA executive and artistic director and special assistant to the chancellor for the arts. “Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’ll be able bring the DisTIL Fellowship to life and cultivate an environment that nurtures exploration and allows curiosity to be the reward.”

In addition to funding the fellows’ time and research on campus, the grant also includes funding for a graduate assistant in each fellow’s host department, and continued support for Carolina Performing Arts’ faculty advisory committee and postdoctoral fellow position.

The program seeks to advance learning in the arts as well as non-arts disciplines through a process of experimentation, discovery, repetition and transformation.

“We are thrilled to be at the intersection of innovation and creativity,” said Kang. “With the DisTILFellowship program we hope to elevate the creative process, promote faculty creativity and innovation and forge connections between UNC-Chapel Hill students and the local community.”

This is the fourth major grant awarded in support of Carolina Performing Arts initiatives from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since 2011. Funding for DisTIL commences in July 2016.


About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

About Carolina Performing Arts

The mission of Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) is to enrich lives by creating and presenting exceptional arts experiences and connecting them to the UNC community and beyond. Established in 2005 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CPA presents the very best from the full spectrum of the performing arts: internationally renowned recitalists and orchestras, chamber ensembles, jazz, folk, and world music artists, dance and theater. CPA strives to nurture artistic innovation and the development of new works on and off campus; to challenge and inspire audiences with powerful and transformative performances; and to integrate the arts into the life of the University, embracing its mission of teaching, research and public service.

Carolina Performing Arts contact
Darah Whyte, (919) 843-0516,

Communications and Public Affairs contact
MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090,