Posted Jan. 10, 2017 at 2:44 p.m.

Moogfest returns to Durham with HB2 protest an essential theme

Published: 2017-01-10 14:44:32
Updated: 2017-01-10 14:44:32

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​When major events and prominent businesses pulled out of North Carolina citing HB2 last spring, Moogfest did the opposite.

Using the four-day global music and technology festival as a platform, speakers, organizers and musicians called for those opposed to the controversial bill to unite and collectively protest (in fact holding an open-mic protest). In their opinion, a bill that limits liberties for select populations goes against the very essence of Moogfest, a festival that promotes change, openness, creativity and collaboration between disparate industries and people.

The most prominent speaker of the event, serial entrepreneur, author and transhumanist Martine Rothblatt, congratulated the festival for "turning this into a protest festival against HB2."

For its second year in Durham, that theme persists this May 18-21 with a lineup of daytime programming that includes Detroit "noise band" Wolf Eyes, which according to Moogfest, "uses technology with sonic protest." Keynote speakers will presumably follow the same theme, though they'll be announced in coming weeks.

In a news release, festival creative director Emmy Parker says Moogfest is less concerned with topping its 40,000 attendee count from 2016 (though there's some pressure considering that the festival's losses prompted its move from Asheville). 

"We're more concerned with how we can make a bigger impact with what we do," she says. In the case of HB2, her hope is that Moogfest attendees and presenters can "design a beautifully innovative and equitable future" with the festival as a platform for that kind of creativity and collaboration.

Durham is a prime stage for that considering that more than 80 percent of Durham County residents voted against HB2 proponent Governor Pat McCrory, and the Durham startup community led a campaign against the bill.

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