It was not all policy for Mark Katz, director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, when he met with new UNC System president Margaret Spellings on Tuesday, March 22, as part of the president’s tour of UNC schools.
At a gathering in the 1789 Venture Lab in downtown Chapel Hill, Katz first described how, as a music professor, the idea of creating the Beat Making Lab came from teaching a course on arts entrepreneurship. This led to a grant from the U.S.Department of State to create and direct a cultural diplomacy program that uses hip-hop as a means to promote cultural exchange, entrepreneurship and conflict resolution. That program is Next Level, which Katz also directs.
Then he helped teach Spellings how to scratch a record. First he recorded her saying the word “opportunity” then DJ A-Minor sampled it for her to scratch over some beats.
“Thanks to the extensive publicity Next Level gets, tens of thousands of people in places where we have little presence,” like Tegucigalpa, Honduras, or Dhaka, Bangladesh, “know about the University of North Carolina. We’re not just cultural ambassadors we’re brand ambassadors for UNC.”
“We need you as our representative to the public … to spread that message that the arts and humanities can be a really important force for the public good,” said Katz.
On April 7, Next Level brings international artists for the Global Diplomacy and Hip Hop panel and jam session at Hyde Hall.