The air is warm. The days are long. And everyone is looking forward to those peaceful days of summer. What better time to think about . . . November?
I know, I know. No one is thinking about next fall. However, the months fly by; before we know it, it will be upon us. So, please pull up a pumpkin spice latte and indulge me briefly.
For 21 years, Cary Academy has hosted a vendor market in the fall. Whether it was the pre-COVID Holiday Shoppe, the COVID-years Virtual Shoppe and Spring Shoppe, or this past year’s Main Street Market, these markets offered a welcome opportunity for the CA community to come together socially and in support of the school. And, well, who didn’t like to shop in the convenience of our own gym?
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed building community partnerships with entrepreneurs and local businesses. And we’ve made countless fun memories together—all while supporting CA.
Unfortunately, the smaller crowds, fewer vendors, and decreased sales of recent years reflect a shifting reality. Life just . . . looks different now.
Online shopping has increased. (Shopping in the gym is fun. Shopping in your pajamas, snug in your bed? Priceless). Crowded, enclosed spaces are often a source of stress rather than comfort. And an increasingly jam-packed fall season makes it hard for vendors and families alike to carve out the time to participate.
Quite simply: the years have brought changes that undermine the community-building and fundraising objectives we set out for our markets all those many years ago.
What to do?
As a learning community, we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating. And it seems clear that this new reality calls for a revised approach. It begs the question: How can we better and more inclusively build community and highlight the talents of our students and faculty?
As we so often do at CA, we’re thinking outside of the box and leaning into one of our mission superpowers—collaboration—to look for answers.
Over the past few months, my team and I have worked with Glen Matthews, Arts Department Chair, and the entire art department, to re-imagine this fall’s community-building event. I think we’ve landed on something special and unique that effectively re-centers our focus where it belongs—on our students and families.
I am delighted to announce that, this fall, CA will experience our first-ever immersive Dinner Theater. Over the course of a multi-night performance the first week in October, guests will be treated to student performances and visual artworks inspired by our theme of home.
A true community event, alumni who missed out on their opportunities to shine on the CA stage due to COVID restrictions will be invited back to perform. Local businesses with whom we have built partnerships will have access to sponsorship opportunities, and our families can come out to support our Charger artists.
At CA, we pride ourselves on creating learning opportunities for our students that are personalized, relevant, and flexible. And, in many ways, this new approach mirrors a similar aim. Rather than a one-size-fits-all annual event, each year, we will look to our community, students, and parents to consider the best way to bring us together each year.
For this year, as we come together around the arts, we invite everyone home.