EOT 364- Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival & Lunespark Creative Center

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Opening the episode is Technician News Editors Abigail, Emily and Heidi. They discuss the weekly news with topics such as triangle fall festivities and oysters. Following the Weekly News EOT reporter, Maha Syed, speaks with Russ Friedell the Media and Marketing Manager for Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. Lastly, Brian Jurado speaks with Pawan Mishra the CEO of Lunespark Center of Creativity and Pablo Torres an Animation Teacher at Lunesparke.

Brian Jurado 0:01
The views and opinions expressed on Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or NC State student media. You are currently tuned into Eye on the Triangle here on WKNC 88.1 FM HD one, Raleigh. Thank you for listening. Hello everyone. This is Brian who rather the Public Affairs Director here at WKNC. For today's episode of Eye on the Triangle, I am joined by technician news editors, Abigail, Emily and Heidi. There'll be sharing some local triangle news. Following the weekly news we have an interview with Russ Friedel, the media and marketing manager for sure Korea hills. And lastly, we've gotten an interview with Pawan Mishra, the CEO of loon spark, and Pablo Torres, a digital art instructor at Loon spark. So stay tuned.

Abigail Ali 0:52
Hello, guys, this is Eye on the Triangle. My name is Abigail Ali. I'm the news editor at technician and today I'm here with

Heidi Reid 0:59
Hey, guys, I'm Heidi. I'm one of the assistant news editors.

Emily Vespa 1:03
Hey, I'm Emily. I'm the other assistant news editor.

Abigail Ali 1:05
And today we brought you some news tidbits from around the triangle area. And yeah, let's get into it.

All right, so to start out with today, the Wells Fargo and Clark Street near the NC State campus was robbed yesterday afternoon by a man wearing a wig and carrying a trash bag. The man apparently gave the teller a note saying that they had a gun and demanded money although no weapon was seen, and the suspect was last seen on Woodburn Avenue. And I thought this was really interesting because bank robberies seem like they're a really common thing around campus this past year. If I remember correctly, two men robbed a bank and we're literally hanging out on Centennial Campus for a while and it took the police literally weeks to find them.

Emily Vespa 1:44
Okay, so I feel like I Heidi mentioned to me that we didn't talk as much about Chapel Hill area. So we're the to all the listeners out there in Chapel Hill. This is for you. So an ad in the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill from September 23 to December 31. They're exhibiting this exhibit called Drawn to Life master drawings from the age of Rembrandt and the pet collection. And there's going to be over 70 Dutch sketches and drawings from the 20 earth from the 17th century sorry. And since these drawings are sensitive to lay and can only be displayed for short periods of time, a lot of these drawings are rarely exhibited, and some has never been published before. So there will be a number of drawings by Rembrandt and his students on display, which is what most enticed me, I took an art history class last semester that really focused on Dutch art in the 17th century. So this is like I think my art history teacher would love this, but I thought it was cool. Um, because I know that a lot of Rembrandt's work isn't it's hard to find and like the fact that it's going to be in Chapel Hill is really cool. So admission is free and you should go check it out if you're interested in that.

Abigail Ali 2:51
Okay, Raleigh, the fall festivities are making their way here and I am so excited about it, especially for this one. Dorothea Dix park will be hosting a falling for a local auto market and Festival on September October 15. Starting at 11am. This festival sounds like the fall event of my dreams because there will be local makers and vendors, food trucks, beer music, a Kid Zone and free pumpkins. That's right, I said free pumpkins. The celebration will last until 6pm and we'll make take place at the big field. I am so excited about this if you couldn't already tell. I love seasonal themes. And between this event happening at my favorite rally Park and featuring some of my favorite rally like events and activities and free pumpkins. What I'm so excited about is like all my favorite parts of falls like makers and vendors like having their cute little fall things and then like different food trucks and like restaurants having their little fall special things and then like the pumpkins all in one spot that is so exciting to be

okay so world of bluegrass is returning to Raleigh to celebrate its 10th anniversary on September 27. Through October 1. Bluegrass shows will take place at different venues across Raleigh and the quote unquote biggest night and bluegrass is held on Thursday at Duke Energy Center and that's the award show. The week ends with IBM a bluegrass bluegrass live a free two day street festival featuring five stages of music bands playing include twisted pine, balsam range and Peter Rowan Blue cup bluegrass band and I am not a big bluegrass girly. I do not know any of those bands. I'm not even gonna lie but I love live music and those are pretty popular bluegrass bluegrass bands from what I gather. So it should be really exciting and there there's gonna be food trucks and beer and all that good stuff that comes with street festivals. So even if it's not like even if you're not blue bluegrass band oh my god, I'm sorry bluegrass fan either you should definitely stop by just for a show or two since it is free.

Emily Vespa 4:54
Okay, so my next bit is about this crazy new store. I read this rolling and said that hackers stole his car. So this is like definitely a crime podcast this week because we've got a lot of crime going on. But a Raleigh resident says he noticed his BMW wasn't parked outside of his house. And after calling a few truck tow truck companies, he realized it had been stolen. So apparently hackers can steal a car using the signal from your key fob. And they get a device that like receives the signal. And apparently they're really cheap too. You can buy them for like 22 bucks. And I think I've seen a video about this before like someone on Tik Tok was like, Yeah, I can like steal cars with this. But I didn't know that people actually did that. I thought it was more of like an informative video. But apparently this actually happened and it happened somewhere in Raleigh. Um, so his key fob was inside his house, but because it was within like a certain amount of distance, someone was able to steal his car using that device. And then they can unlock the car without it sounding an alarm or anything. So yeah, this trick is becoming more common and people say especially it's among Mercedes and BMW so I guess if you have a Mercedes and BMW you should watch out but I have a Honda so doesn't really sound like crazy technologies wild.

Abigail Ali 6:09
The fact that it's so easy that you could just like hack somebody's car, like I so believe that. And I feel like that was even a thing with just regular keys a little while ago, like, people's keys would like get mixed up with different cars and stuff. I've heard that happening. Oh, maybe

Heidi Reid 6:23
is your problem that even though you drive?

Emily Vespa 6:27
Yeah, but I thought that was crazy. Especially the $22 part that's

Heidi Reid 6:32
like, how are you supposed to not like, prevent that from how exactly because you keep your keys in your house, where else you're gonna keep them and your car's parked outside, like, what are you going to do?

Emily Vespa 6:39
I think like a lot of people are trying to like get manufacturers to just like address that issue. And so there's, like, hopefully somehow update the keys and like, stop selling keys that can do that. But for a lot of people who have like, you know, cars that are going to be older, they're not going to get the newest model. That's still a possibility. But I thought it was crazy that it was literally parked outside his house like it was in some random neighborhood like this person just went into a neighborhood and had that device and was able to steal his car. That is so insane. Yeah.

Abigail Ali 7:08
Okay guys, it is oysters season and local seafood is hosting their first oyster roast on September 25, from one to 5pm. At trophy brewing, the one on May Woods specifically, the event will feature freshly cooked oysters and oyster Nipper brew a beer brewed with oysters. As a girlie from the coast. I absolutely love oysters and honestly oyster season in general because the ritual of having people gather and share great food is just like the best. And I absolutely love seeing this tradition being carried on in the triangle also, now that I live here. Also, I know the beers thing sounds so weird, but I actually tried a beer like this from the vault another brewery in Raleigh, and it was honestly not bad like at all. So yeah, this event sounds like a lot of fun. All right,

Emily Vespa 7:58
guys. Big deal. Big deal. celeb coming to Raleigh and you need to guess it's an ALA celebrity. Who do you think is coming to Raleigh in November go? It's not Tricia payments, but you're getting warmer.

Heidi Reid 8:10
Is it Adam Levine?

Emily Vespa 8:12
Oh, you're so you're so close. You got the first name right.

Abigail Ali 8:15
There's no way I'm Sandler.

Emily Vespa 8:18
I know it's hard to believe, but Adam Sandler is coming to. So yeah, I know Heidi's excited. We're all excited here. I'm sure you can hear in our voices. But not only will he be doing comedy, he's playing music. He's playing music at this show. Not just comedy. He literally the picture of him had a guitar like he's full on playing music. So if you're an Adam Sandler fan, you need to get your tickets right now, because they're on sale right now. Um, he's gonna be here on November 13th. So mark your calendars get ready. Big big deal.

Heidi Reid 8:56
Everyone, I better see you're Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler, Fitz. I want to I want to see the big baggy pants. The huge T shirts everyone has to come up looking like him. Yeah, I forgot to mention maybe shave your head if you're really committed to the cause. It's your call but I am so excited. I didn't know he could even play a guitar the

Emily Vespa 9:14
dress. Sorry. Yeah. The dress code is either black tie or Adam Sandler. No one besides

Abigail Ali 9:22
the last tidbit for this week is for all the transfer co lovers. The popular Foodhall will now be using its ballroom previously used for for private parties, bins, business lunches, etc. And it will now serve as a music venue. According to any week the ballroom can see around 300 people and transfer co intends to schedule talent from Thursday to Sunday's the fall. The fun all starts on October 7 With wormholes. Rallies music venues are such a large part of its culture. I definitely think that the addition of music to transfer is going to be something new locals will really enjoy it and that will bring business to the food hall.

Heidi Reid 10:04
I hope they called their events. Food Hall balls. You

Abigail Ali 10:11
know, that's so cute. Yeah, I think it'd be good. All right, guys, that's all we have for you this week. As always, thank you for joining us and we will see you next time. Bye.

Brian Jurado 10:24
Up next Eye on the Triangle reporter Maha interviews Russ Friedel, the media and marketing manager for Shikari Hills grassroots festival.

Maha Syed 10:35
This is Maha with ADA point one FM and you are listening to Eye on the Triangle live six to 7pm every Sunday evening. Let's talk hippies, grassroots music and overall wholesome family vibes. I'm joining Russ Fredo, who's the Media Marketing Manager for sure Cory hills, and his lovingly agreed to meet with us to talk about your Quarry Hills grassroots festival coming up this October. My first question for you is what is the origin story of Shikari hills.

Russ Friedel 11:06
They said the festival founder said You know, we should really do this. You know, there should be four seasons, we should do this, you know, multiple times a year. And one of the founders Jerden per year, discovered this beautiful 75 acre farm in Pittsboro and the organization purchased that back in 2001 2002, somewhere around there and started the Shikari Hills grassroots festival. And ever since then, this one coming up here is the 18th annual Fall Short Hills grassroots festival. So for 18 years, the organization has been producing two festivals there every year, always the first weekend of May and the first weekend of October.

Maha Syed 11:56
Awesome, awesome. Thank you. Have you been part of the creation in the history of Shikari.

Russ Friedel 12:04
So myself? No, I have been involved with the festival since the onset of pandemic times. But prior to that, I managed bands for many, many years and worked on other music festivals and other things in the music industry. And I attended the Fingerlakes grassroots Festival, the home festival up here in New York, I had attended that 113 or 14 years. So it's very familiar with the organization and the vibe and what they are all about.

Maha Syed 12:42
Love that. What is the essence of Shakori, Cory, would you say?

Russ Friedel 12:48
Yeah, so the essence of grassroots and the grassroots festival in general America, no matter where it's happening, is to open a dialogue and a conversation between cultures that might not normally communicate directly with each other. The grassroots organization firmly believes that so much can be created through conversation, and that human beings really let their guard down and open themselves up in situations like music festivals, where you're being exposed to specifically for grassroots, you know, you're being exposed to an incredible African band you've never heard of before, or an incredible Cajun Creole Zydeco band you've never heard before. And the basic idea is that, you know, we have more in common than we have different between between us culturally, and that a lot can a lot of ground can be covered and bridges connected between human beings. You know, when when they're able to communicate and share with each other in that environment.

Maha Syed 13:57
communicating through music bringing together Oh,

Russ Friedel 14:03
yeah, shell, sharing culture, and music through celebration and community. Absolutely.

Maha Syed 14:13
Awesome. Now you are a longtime to Shakori goer. So in your opinion, what is the evolution of shakori? What was it? Maybe 13 or 14 years ago? What has it turned into today?

Russ Friedel 14:25
Yeah, I would say that the evolution you know, it really sticks true to its roots. And really, you know, the evolution is, you know, the property gets better and better. Every festival as as it gets more and more developed, but being you know, true to its roots. So the evolution has really just been an expanding community as more and more bands perform and bands want to come back. And various people are engaged at various levels, whether it's at the kids tent or the sustainability fair or the, the outpost, the teen outpost, there's there's a number of other things that go on at the festival, other than just music. And so I would say the evolution has just been like the growth of various groups from meeting each other and communicating at Shikari at these festivals that then expands out into the community out into the triangle in Raleigh and out into Greensboro. And you know, Winston Salem, and, you know, out to Charlotte and Asheville and Wilmington. So it's really just been an evolution of the community of like minded folks within the state of North Carolina and beyond.

Maha Syed 15:47
Awesome, awesome.

So it seems like you're kind of saying that it's a family that's grown together.

Russ Friedel 15:55
Absolutely. And one of the coolest things that I really love is that Shikari Hills grassroots festival is family friendly. Children under 12 are admitted free of charge for the parent or guardian. And so what that enables is, over all of these years, well, number one, people are exposed to music that they might not necessarily find themselves. But then number two is, you know, year after year, people come back. And so what's the evolution is like, since the inception, first people who started attending and volunteering and supporting organization and just having a good time, you know, had children and then their children had children. And so now at grassroots festivals, you have three, four generations of families that this is their time, you know, outside of Christmas, right, where they, they get together. And so it's just a very beautiful thing to look around and see kids running around barefoot, with painted faces and doing doing yoga or enjoying any of the number of children's performers who we have in the mornings. And then you know, it, just to look next to them. And there's their 89 year old grandmother just cutting a rug, you know, just dancing up a storm. Incredible bluegrass band, you know, and that stuff that's real, and that's tangible. And really, you can feel deep in your soul. And that's like some of the most powerful stuff, especially when you're talking about talking about kids and what separates grassroots festivals from from just a regular festival.

Maha Syed 17:41
Yeah, so you've got Thanksgiving, you've got Christmas, and you've got your Shakori.

Russ Friedel 17:46

Maha Syed 17:50
Love that. I love that. Now, what is your favorite part of Shikari? If you could say one thing,

Russ Friedel 17:57
oh, gosh, I don't know if I want to say it because I don't really want my cover blown. But I'll admit it to you here on air. My favorite part about Shikari is the front porch stage which is the front porch of our main headquarters that's kind of situated in the middle of the festival at the farmhouse and we have an amazing band I want to say these guys I've been doing this for 18 years now. But these these nice old guys who come in and they post up and this is kind of a low key acoustic stage where anyone anyone attending the festival can get on stage and play a song with with these guys and they'll back you up. And then in addition to that, they have various like the Tom Petty sing along our or the you know, the John Prine sing along our you know, and so it's just music at its soul at its roots, you know, just stripped back and community oriented. And so that for me, it's probably it's just we're always walking by that stage. And, you know, there's sometimes there's three people sitting out there singing all the words and sometimes there's 30 or 40 or 50 people but it's always the vibe is always great. It's always just this real nice running, you know, open invitation to create together and that to me is where the magic is that

Maha Syed 19:19
love that awesome. Now, what kinds of events and activities can we expect at the quarry this coming October.

Russ Friedel 19:30
We have a number of activities for kids and kids programming. We have our kids tent that is opening weekend round. We have kids yoga, we have kids, bands and set times and then we have the outpost which is a for teens. We also have the sustainability fair that features a number of amazing organizations around Chatham County and around the triangle including beekeepers and climate change activists and registered to vote and all of that type of stuff. And then like I said, the other thing I love is the front porch stage, which in addition to just kind of the open jam, features, a number of internet workshops led by various performers at the festival from how to write a song as to how to play the washboard and a Zydeco band. And then, in addition to all of that, you know, really, we have four stages of music running 12 to 16 hours a day for four days. So it's about 60 or 70 bands, and plenty of nonstop music to enjoy.

Maha Syed 20:40
Thank you. Thank you. Now,

this is kind of a fun question.

What is the craziest Shakori experience you have ever had?

Russ Friedel 20:51
Oh, boy, that's a it's a real big one really have to wrack my brain here.

Maha Syed 20:55
You can narrow it to top three if it makes it easy

Russ Friedel 20:58
to get from one to three, I love it. My man to be honest with you some of my favorite moments in general at your quarry and just the grassroots festivals in general are with my friends you know those moments where you know you really are able to just sink into a deep conversation or just laugh hysterically around the campfire you know for hours about nothing with with people that you love. And those moments are really what I personally look for extra quarry. You know, aside from that, there's been a number a wide range of performance the festival about all the years from you know, baila fleck to the funk band lettuce to spring we had Karl Denson who plays with the Rolling Stones so it's just always fun to bring in new artists and musicians. And I think the other my other favorite part just in general is always experiencing a new band, a new musician, a new genre of music maybe I've never heard before and I think that's what I really really love most about your quarry and about grassroots festival

Maha Syed 22:16
thank you so much for sharing

sign off Eye on the Triangle tune in six to 7pm every Sunday Thank you Russ

Russ Friedel 22:24
Hey You're welcome and hey if folks are interested you can find all the information anything else your heart desires that should Quarry Hills grassroots dot o RG.

Brian Jurado 22:39
For a last interview of the evening Eye on the Triangle we'll be interviewing Pawan Mishra and Pablo Torres of loon spark. Hello everyone, this is Brian who rather with Eye on the Triangle. Today I'm joined by Pawan Mishra and Pablo Torres from loon Spark, an art education center located here in APEX, if you all each one and just introduce yourselves.

Pawan Mishra 23:01
My name is Pavan Mishra. I am the CEO and founder of loon spark. I worked for fidelity prior to starting roospark for about 17 and a half years. And I was managing wealth management platform at Fidelity before that.

Pablo Torres 23:19
And I'm Pablo, I'm a student here at NC State. This is my senior year. And I'm an illustrator and artist. And I've been working professionally for companies like Cartoon Network since I was like 16.

Brian Jurado 23:33
Pablo reached out to me a couple of weeks ago, just regarding loon spark and how passionate he is about the center and like how passionate he is about Mr. Mishra his backstory. So I would really just love if you kind of were able to, like dive in into that.

Pawan Mishra 23:45
Absolutely. So as I was growing up in a small town in India called La Liga, I was artists at heart, you know, I was a writer, I wanted to be a writer. And it was very hard for me while growing up in the age of like, seven, eight years through 1718 to find the right connections, right platforms, right people who could guide me through that journey. Fast forward a few years back, I started conceiving a place like this where a lot of young hearts, you know, young artists, they want to pursue art, theater or music, but they don't get the right support. So they don't get the artists were practicing, you know, artists who are teaching as well, because only artists can share the details of what they go through when they go through the journey of being an artist. And they don't find a place often where all the equipments are available for them. They have professional access to professional equipment. So that was another thing that you know, I wanted to achieve with the center that I started and then lastly, there is not a kind of progression based curriculum In are typically like you see in STEM courses, if you go for mathematics, you will see that you go from level one to level two to level three. But most of the art places do not have anything like that. So it's very hard for parents of young case or even for adults to measure the progress once they're going to the art school. So the two purposes connected together. One was like when I was growing up, there was no platform that could provide holistic Art Education get access to equipments and artists who can guide and then the other one was that there is no shortage of art schools and theater, theatrically schools, and also music schools that can provide holistic education. More and more effort is now toward me having more and more STEM schools, like teaching robotics, and computer science and, you know, coding and all that good stuff, which is good, you know, it's very important to develop the left brain, but we also need development of the right brain at the right time. So that's what we're addressing with this new center.

Brian Jurado 26:09
Just overall, what brought you to like all starting it here in apex of all places.

Pawan Mishra 26:14
So first of all, I moved to apex about three years back, and I fell in love with apex. So I moved from Morrisville, which was another stunning time down. So the entire triangle area, you know, I really love it. And once I moved to apex, I started looking for a place to start it and I found a place just the way I wanted, probably half a mile from my house in apex. And apex, if you did not know about is a very upcoming town, you know, a lot of people are moving to apex and demographic is very appealing to the kind of center we're starting. So that was the reason we started.

Brian Jurado 26:52
If you just kind of want to give a little bit of a description of the location, I mean, I was able to kind of do a little bit of my own research. And it's just very wide programs, there's 2d drawing, there's acting classes, as well as audio editing, it's just such a wide platform of just like, things to learn about, like, what kind of brought that into fruition.

Pawan Mishra 27:13
So absolutely. I think when you think about right brain, it is really about storytelling. So right brain is the storyteller, right brain is basically the part of the brain that imagines things, right brain basically tackles the novel situations, we are thrown into completely new situations, the right brain, which will think about something and come back with creative ideas, right. So in the end, you know, our music, you know, theater, you talk about anything is, is in the end all about storytelling. So, we thought about, you know, the courses that typically are offered within our area, so there is you know, music lessons, you know, there is definitely you know, drawing painting and you know, a lot of other areas like you know, you can learn guitar, what we focus on really is things that are not offered. So sound engineering, you know, music production, songwriting, flute playing, comic making, and 2d animation. So stuff that you typically don't find, obviously, movie making acting. In our center, we also make movies. So during our courses, students learn acting, they learn moviemaking and they end up making a movie, which is like five to 10 minutes. So the idea was that how do we make this place to be holistic about storytelling more than anything else, because I'll tell you what happens in a typical art place. So even though our place is, you know, it serves all age ranges, our focus is more on the children. So children from age seven and up up to like 17 years of age. And there we definitely have classes for adults and above. But what is more important to know is that 10 to 15 years is the age where most artists are born. So whether it is the timing, or whether it is like kind of observations you make during that time, if you do some kind of survey, you figure out that's the time where most of the artists are born, you know, they use the stuff that they go through or experiences they go through during that age, you know, when they kind of, you know, do art or write a story or make a movie. So, so basically the idea of this place to have these kinds of courses is that it allows artists to discover their heart. So you might start in drawing and painting and you see other people doing acting moviemaking and over the period of time you will realize that you real hard in the other genre of storytelling is another way of storytelling that appease you more Then what you initially thought so you might come in for acting and go towards drawing and painting because the center, you can see everything happening at the same time, you can see people who didn't know anything about acting, and they started acting within like five days. And you might think to yourself, I always thought acting was very tough, but somebody is doing that in front of me and learned in like five days. So it's not hard, I can learn it. So it encourages, sort of encourages you to, you know, take advantage of 20 plus courses that we have now, so that you can find your heart and continue on your journey.

Brian Jurado 30:36
Yeah, I can definitely like speak for that kind of like artistic influence of being around like different arts, my roommate is actually like a design major here at NC State. And he's like, always doing something on his iPad. And I feel like that's kind of motivated me to kind of design as well, even though it's not my own personal like, career path, or like, I've just kind of picked it up as a hobby a lot. So I can definitely see how like, being in that like center, and you have all these different arts going around, it can definitely be like very inspiring. I feel like, especially like in the United States, where a lot of the main artistic mediums is typically like writing or drawing, you don't really see too much like audio production, especially at like younger ages. So I feel like it's very incredible. Like loon Spark, how you are kind of like able to be in those like rooms or be around those rooms from an early age. Was there any programs that y'all kind of like started out with first in terms of like, did you kind of progress in moving forward on the programs?

Pawan Mishra 31:31
Absolutely. So we were frequently advised that we should just start with one and then you know, over a period of time build it. And the kind of approach we took, we like, we want our board, you know, we are here to offer full range of storytelling. And we went all in into this, and we hired real good artists. So just to give you an idea, last week, one of our so our studio manager actually won an Emmy Award, right? So, you know, he has been awesome. So he's teaching full time at roospark is our full time employees. So we kind of have teachers of such profile, we're teaching at our place. So we are going into this for a long haul, we really want to make an impact with the community, we really want to make sure that artists, whether they're young artists who have, you know, inner spark, we are helping them identify that.

Pablo Torres 32:26
Yeah, and if I can mention, not only do we have, you know, that level of, you know, instructors like me wonders, but the materials, we're using our professional grade, so, you know, just the like audio engineering setup alone is just, it's mind blowing, it's something you'd see, you know, at these big name places. And we can say that confidently for every material, like, it's, it's mind blowing, like, as a artists and art student. You know, this is something that I've never had access to, you know, growing up in Miami, so yeah, it's just incredible.

Brian Jurado 33:03
We also are joined with Pablo Torres, as well as he kind of gave a little bit of a light background on his, like Cartoon Network and a little bit of like, animation that he's done in the past, but what brought you over to, like, learn spark?

Pablo Torres 33:15
So I'm wrapping up my degree here at NC State, and, you know, throughout, you know, the go to school from home, like COVID era is when I made the transition from contract gigs that lasted one or two months to, you know, doing our full time for companies like Frederator Studios. But you know, it was very much on a contract basis. So there would be periods of time where, you know, I was working 12 hour days, for them doing backgrounds and storyboarding. And there would be months where I was doing nothing, because they didn't need me. And I was getting tired of that. Especially since it kind of meant that I couldn't draw what I wanted to draw, like, make my own art, because it took up all my time. And then, you know, I don't know where, you know, the opportunity to work with Pawan sort of just fell out, like on my lap. And I met with him and I showed him my portfolio. And, you know, once he explained, you know, what we're going to do at the level, we're going to do it I was I wanted to come aboard right away. And thankfully, you know, after that first meeting, he hired me, so, yeah,

Brian Jurado 34:22
a great and you also a tendency, so you said, John, you're like last four or your last year here. So your senior, what's kind of been your experience in terms of just like being within the arts here, like a non typical, like art school?

Pablo Torres 34:36
I mean, what my degree isn't in the, like school design. And I guess that's partially due to, you know, lack of exposure to, you know, higher education in the arts. I mean, when I graduated, and I saw how artists typically live where I'm from. I was like, Well, I can't really afford to live like this. So I just thought that You know, making a career off of artists, something you couldn't really do. And you know, over time, and as I, my portfolio got bigger, and I was working with better clients, I realized maybe, you know, this is something I could do, but I still didn't have enough confidence in it. So, you know, I got a normal degree. And then, you know, here at the end is when Pawan sort of inspired me to just, you know, go for it completely.

Brian Jurado 35:21
And just in general poll on how do you go about, like recruiting these artists? Is it kind of like you searching all throughout like the United States? Or is it like something that you're typically looking for more local, like triangle based artists,

Pawan Mishra 35:32
so primarily, I use indeed, for jobs or so I would post the job there. And I would mention that it is a local position. So if anybody was willing to relocate or drive, that was totally fine. And this was a tough hiring. So I've hired pretty much entire my professional career. So at my previous employer, I was in a position where I had a big team of about 100 plus people. So I used to do a lot of hiring. But this time, it was different, because I was going after hiring the real artists, you know, artists who are passionate about creating their own creations, right. So they're not just teaching, you know, how to create staff, but they practice hard India or themselves, because that brings a passion of, you know, an artist. So it was hard. I did, I did talk to a lot of people, I think about maybe about 200 Plus, you know, to hire about, you know, 15 and the idea there was that, you know, indeed would give me a list of people who were interested. And then I would just, you know, go through, look at the profiles, you know, shortlist few, talk to a few and then for the shortlist. And then pick the ones that I really liked. You know, after talking to them, I typically looked at their portfolio, you know, they created I typically assess, you know, their passion level about teaching and about art itself. And I think it worked. I was lucky, I think looking at my team now, I was really lucky to hire everybody who was super passionate, and specifically passionate about DLR, it is because there is a side of teaching and artists, which could be frustrating because you know, they're starting in a field in a new way. And they learn basics worse. Teaching basics is the hardest part. So I'm very proud to say that everybody I hired, they have a lot of patience with that, even though you know, the time is really expensive, because you know, they do their artwork, too. So they want to spend a lot of time doing their own artwork. But they're so passionate about it, that they have right level of patience to work with the new artists. So I'm really, really lucky about hiring who I ended up hiring,

Brian Jurado 37:51
backtracking a little bit in terms of just like the origins of loon Spark, how do you feel like the like, when you first established the location? And like you started moving through the process? How do you feel like that process was in terms of like building that art community within like this area? Do you feel like there was any like backlash or any hardships that you had to face starting out?

Pawan Mishra 38:11
So I think there were two sides to it, right? The concept itself was highly welcome. Why by everybody, I think parents and the community loved it, the moment they heard about, there was something like this coming, there was other side of constructing it with COVID, you know, dealing material for months and months. And then the way any unique, a unique design, like a design for a studio can be very intimidating in terms of like how many approvals it goes through how many corrections come back, and how much back and forth, you know, and it's specifically when the place is primarily going to be for children. So I think that part was a bit overwhelming. I'll tell you, the kind of glass we're using is probably the best quality glass that you can ever get for professional studio. But to get that there was a, you know, audits, audits were bad for like six to eight months, and we lost a lot of time. You know, we've been working on building this center for about 18 months. And, you know, it was unfortunate that we lost the entire summer duration where a lot of artists would have come to our center because you know, they had three months of time to work on their art. But you know, we look we have futuristic so we were lucky to launch in August, August 22 is when we launched and looking forward to serving the community you know hereafter. So, to answer your question is makes you know, constructing the center is highly challenging when you know it is including a lot of consideration about futures. So for example, Everything is so thought thoughtful in the center like, even, you know, the green curtains that you use for moviemaking. So typically you put them, you know, on some kind of stands and you bring the curtains and it takes you two hours to set all of that we got them as a projector in the ceiling itself. So when the acting class you know, wants to do acting or theater, we can just put, just press a button, and the green curtains come, you know, from the top. So, there's a lot of stuff like that, which makes the space to be highly customizable, and portable, and highly, quickly operable and efficient. And that kind of, in a way, causes a lot of problems for approvals to get it right, and things like that. But that's all pass

Brian Jurado 40:53
us kind of wanted to talk about, like your curriculums available, I saw that you have a very like long list of just programs in terms of just being able to be flexible towards a lot of different bodies of people. But as like an instructor there, how do you go about creating like a curriculum for like a seven week course or anything that may be like, longer?

Pablo Torres 41:12
The one I told you the one like, you know, here are the classes, I feel confident in teaching illustration, like digital portraiture and painting, you know, comic making, he had me write a curriculum for 26 weeks super detailed. You know, for the certification courses where, you know, you could come in knowing nothing, but by the end, you'll have a pretty good grasp on what you need to know if this is what you want to do. So in my personal experience, I sort of just designed the course, after what I would have liked to hear, because having no connections and just sort of making my own way in that space, like the art world, it was pretty tough, though, you know, hopefully, avoiding certain pitfalls, but also guiding people where I want them to be or where they would want to be, is how I sort of designed it.

Brian Jurado 42:05
Great. Now what is like the age ranges that you'll typically like, see, is there a you're mostly like marketing or looking for more of like a younger art artist? Or is it just like everyone,

Pawan Mishra 42:14
so So we basically say that we serve young artists. So when I say when we say young art is we mean people who are young in learning art, so people who are starting from beginning, so we do have concept of different levels for each of the course, we divide our certification courses in like five levels. So you start at the beginning level, you go all the way to master level, and we have a model where you go month on month, you pay monthly, and you can drop out anytime you want. And you can continue until you're satisfied with your journey. And once you decide that, okay, this is enough for me, you know, I know I can figure out my own way, or you want to continue to say, Okay, I want to continue create art with my T shirt. So you can do that. From age range perspective. So we do serve all age ranges, we typically say that the preteen classes, the teen classes, and then the adult classes, right. And what we are seeing is that there is a lot of interest for preteen classes. And there is a lot of interest for the adult classes as well, because what has happened is that, for some reason, in a lot of adults, and specifically in senior population, or adults who are in college, they couldn't learn when, you know, they wanted to learn as kids and children. So they're coming back and kind of enrolling for things that they always wanted to do. So for example, somebody wanted to write stories and couldn't do it because of, you know, being busy with classes are being busy with work, and they're coming back to it now. So we're seeing that trend a lot.

Pablo Torres 44:01
I mean, my drawing class is all older professional women. So it's like people of all ages. And the other drawing class that goes on at the same time is, you know, young kids. So like there's a huge spectrum. That is

Brian Jurado 44:13
really great. I think that's what like really is important about like the art centers especially like, like any place that really kind of curates or like fundamental lies is like learning art is what like how wide the age range is like I personally am 22 and after COVID I just had this very inspired spark that I wanted to learn a bunch of new things, especially like writing, I came into a lot of creative writing because prior to that I went to very like stem or just like those typical STEM schools growing up through high school middle school that didn't really curate like, any creative writing that wasn't like really expressed in any of like those school curriculums that I was in so like I've always kind of like suppressed wanting to learn that and went towards more like academic or AP level. kind of like journalistic writing, and that's what I was kind of like, told to learn, and to like, ditch the creative side, and then I think after COVID, or during COVID, I was like, hmm, I have all this free time, school is no longer kind of like fully on my back as much as it used to be. Like, I've started pursuing creative writing. And now I'm kind of like in the market as well, just like, I feel like a bunch of people, in terms of, I kind of want to take it up to another level, and maybe reach out and see if I can find someone that's a lot more knowledgeable on it. And I think that's what's kind of great about Sanders about, like, from your,

Pablo Torres 45:32
yeah, that's what makes it I, in my opinion, different from, you know, anywhere I've seen or been, you know, I mean, just thinking, if I was, you know, 18, again, you know, I went to art school through most of my life, in downtown Miami, and it is a little demoralizing when you can tell that a, your teacher is just there for a check, you know, and they don't really care about the art, or B, they do, but you know, they don't really, they haven't really had much to show for it. But with loon Spark, you know, starting with the founder, who he always wanted to write, and he wrote a best selling book, once he decided to, and you know, that's all the staff. I mean, everybody has these incredible credentials, that I mean, sometimes it's a little daunting for me. So I can imagine that would be really inspiring to somebody who, you know, was maybe hesitant to start and when they realize they could do it, and not only, you know, could they be satisfied in that, but they could look to the future for themselves, you know, there's a future in AI for me, maybe

Brian Jurado 46:31
how would you best recommend someone that maybe just listen to this interview is feeling a lot like motivated to maybe pursue this what would be like the first steps in terms of like, reaching out to loon Spark,

Pawan Mishra 46:41
so I would definitely say, Come by have a look at our facility, because one thing that we have done is, we have created that platform, that place where once you come in, it gives you wipes that will you will find very inviting as an artist, so come by, and then we have a very friendly staff, they're gonna come, they're gonna talk to you, they're gonna speak about everything that we offer, they want to work with you, they want to spend time with you to make sure they educate you on and you know, what you really want to do, and, you know, what might work for you, given you know, what you tell them. So we do that kind of consultancy as well. So my recommendation would become by to the center, you know, take a look at the center, explore what is available and have a conversation with, with the experts out there, you know, teachers front office, and then you can decide, you know, what you want to pursue, and we have different programs. So we have, you know, certification course. And then for, you know, relatively lower ages, we have camps, we have one day camps, we're going to also run workshops very soon, which is, you know, targeting adult age range, we will have some family doing stuff together and stuff like that. We are also doing concerts during, you know, weekend hours, where we don't, you know, schedule normally the classes, you know, like Saturday and Sunday, Sunday evenings. You know, first one happening on October 2, were a check check band called Molina Brothers is coming and playing during the US tour at our center to a very small audience. So, I think we are privileged to have them and we will do more, we are scheduling more such concert so that we are also known as promoting art in supporting art, you know, for the community, in the in the area. So, so I will say yes, definitely, they should come by. And if they don't have that much time, they can definitely call us and have the same conversation on phone, you can visit, visit our website and figure out where they're interested and take it from there.

Brian Jurado 48:52
And now how exactly does like the certification courses work?

Pawan Mishra 48:56
So we call them certification courses, because we have like five levels for each course. And you know, what I was alluding earlier in this interview that the art traditionally Art Education traditionally has lacked that discipline, which you see in STEM very prominently. So you make progress, you go to next level, now, we are trying to implement the same discipline for every course. So certification course means that you come in at certain levels. So let's say you come at the beginning level, and you go to proficient level, let's say after working in that course for six months, and then you work hard and you go to intermediate level and then you might go to, you know, professional level or a master level in next three years or maybe 12 months, based on you know, how quickly you pick up things. So, when you go to the next level, we give you a certificate which says you know, you have achieved roospark Level Two in character To design for example, and that is your baseline. Now, in future, we plan to open more rooms back center. So you are level two Wetlands Park Center one, now you've moved to another city. And you can say, Okay, I was level two in loons Park, I want to continue from there. So you can continue learning about level three, for loans for certification. So to bring consistency about learning, and also making sure you're making progress, because progress is very important, we will I will tell you, it is even more important to have progress measured in art and science or math. The science and math are very kind of systematic in that sense already that you know, that, you know, Newton's laws, you know, you can graduate from there and law know, certain other laws, right. But in, in art, it is very difficult to say, you know, whether you are at this level, now you're going to that level, assessment is tricky, and it's more gray compared to STEM subjects. So, this is the first time I think anybody is doing this kind of thing across holistic storytelling aspects, right. So you know, that music schools that do that, you know, some famous schools do that. We are coming up with our own certification across all these streams.

Brian Jurado 51:21
Amazing. Yeah. I would say like with the kind of, I guess, there's been a lot of debates in terms of just like, our technology and the way that it's being used to be like, ta especially in like, those STEM environments, how would you say that, like technology kind of influences how y'all do your work at a boon spark?

Pawan Mishra 51:39
I think it's very important. So first of all, setting up the infrastructure, you have to drive with the latest and greatest technology, whether it's like equipment setup, everything happens with software's these days, right. So you have to pick the right software, right technology to do it, then then building the infrastructure for teachers to communicate, like, you know, how the Mac's are going to work together, you know, because, obviously, there are multiple nuances about bringing support system and, and technology is the core backbone to make sure such a place runs efficiently. And then you think about, you know, specifically, you know, sound production or movie production technology is extremely handy. So it's not only, you know, continuing with what one has done in last 10 years, you know, every, every few months, there's something new coming, you know, doesn't matter which area you are in, you know, and Pablo can vouch for it, like, you know, there are software's that are upgraded, and the new ones that come in, and they make something, you know, like, platform like so, you know, at some point, I will give you a simple example, at some point, when people used to do animation, they would put images together one by other, and then it will take months and months to do a small piece of animation. Now, all of that stuff has gone into platform. So you can plug your, you know, end results, you know, or plug whatever you want to achieve on top of a platform, your platform provides you most of the basic stuff, and it speeds your delivery of your artistic creation. So technology is in everything is extremely important to be on the latest and greatest so that you're not getting stuck on the way.

Brian Jurado 53:38
And in terms of just like the future of art education, I would say that you guys are kind of like on the forefront of it. And you've got like you said, you're kind of being updated with like, all the latest technology and just being up to date on that. But like, what's your kind of opinions or thoughts on like, how you're gonna move forward in terms of just like the next maybe five years or so.

Pawan Mishra 53:55
So what are you going to do over the next six months, we're going to make sure that there is enough awareness about our center, we definitely know there's a huge demand for something like what we have. So we have a product that people people love, and we talk people we talked to, I think we're trying to establish a connection between the product and the consumers here, right? So we trying to create that awareness. So next six months is mostly about creating that awareness and making sure we are serving more and more students right and making the center profitable because that's important, right? And once that happens, you know we are going to open up two more centers. That's our next plan. In the nearby area, let's say within 20 miles, so we're going to do some research, you know, what's the right locations for those two centers, and once we achieve success with three centers, then we will look at converting this into a franchisee because that is probably the most effective way To get into hundreds of these centers very quickly, you know, and make that impact, which is not, you know, in a particular city alone, but you know, across state or across country, so we really want to go there, you know, quickly as quickly as possible. But we understand that we need to go through a lot in order to get there. So that that's our five year plan, right?

Brian Jurado 55:24
I'm very excited to kind of see how y'all keep progressing, I think just the way that you kind of spoke about the certification courses, I think it'd be incredible to just kind of have like that linear, like, just being able to connect all the locations such as if you're like a level two in one location, you can kind of pick up where you left off, I think that is like prevalent in other industries, but not as much as an art. And I feel like if you like maybe are in from one city, and you started up art class there, and then you want to move somewhere else, it's not going to be like the same where you left off. So I think it's incredible to kind of have that.

Pablo Torres 55:57
Yeah, um, unfortunately, like speaking from experience, you know, you're either lucky, you know, born into artistic family, or you gotta figure it out yourself. Because, you know, at least in the US, art education has been gutted. So, you know, it's pretty great to have a place like this with at the standard that it's at, to sort of nurture future generations of art, because, you know, it's kind of worrying, you know, how fast it's disappearing from the curriculum in schools, and not just, you know, K through 12. But, you know, also on college as well,

Brian Jurado 56:31
it would very much agree, I think I've been also kind of like looking over just the regular curriculums because my sister's right now in like, ninth grade, and she's like very much into like arts, she's very much into like, fashion design, because she's expressed an interest in doing textiles here at NC State. And she's like, asking me all these questions about like fashion to like design and textiles, because those like, at least the smaller high schools that I've been to, or the the one that I went to, they didn't really have too many like art programs. Like, I think I took maybe one art class in my four years there. And I think that is like kind of a big gutting to think about because like, there is a lot of talented artists, especially in this area that don't really get like the development that they deserve or that they like aspire to have. So it'd be very cool to kind of see places such as loon Spark, expand to like maybe smaller like areas as well to kind of be able to captivate and like bring in those like smaller artists that don't always get the opportunity to Well, it's been great talking to both of you I've really enjoyed are being introduced to you, Mr. Mishra. And it's also been great meeting you, Mr. Taurus. Is there anything that you guys want to add?

Pablo Torres 57:43
Besides, thank you for having us? Not really? No,

Pawan Mishra 57:46
no, nothing. Thank you for having us. It was a pleasure talking

Brian Jurado 57:49
to you. Yeah, I really look forward to learning more about balloon spark and I also look forward to kind of just seeing how you guys grow from here. I'm new to the Raleigh area. I'm new to like this whole triangle area. And I feel like every day I'm almost introduced to like a new amazing business and I would say that yours really captivated me from like, the second that I like, researched y'all and learn more about it. It was very captivating, and I'm very excited to see where you'll grow from here.

Pawan Mishra 58:13
That's great to hear. Thank you.

Brian Jurado 58:15
Thank you. Thanks.

That is all for today's episode of Eye on the Triangle. I want to thank Abigail Heidi and Emily. Your Tibbets have me very excited for fall and for some oysters. Also want to thank Russ Fidel for interviewing with us. I'm really looking forward to this year should Corey Hills lastly I want to thank Pawan Mishra and Pablo Torres for their time. I hope everyone has a lovely rest of their week. Music for today's episode has been smoke jacket Blues by track tribe licensed under the YouTube Audio Library. This has been Brian Hutto from WKNC you can listen to more Eye on the Triangle episodes on wknc.org/podcast Thank you

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

EOT 364- Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival & Lunespark Creative Center
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