Bedlam Theatre, celebrating its first holiday season with its new location fully open, will welcome a new entertainment and arts production company called the Avant Garde. On Saturday, Dec. 13 at 10 p.m., the Avant Garde will be hosting a launch party in the spirit of the holidays at Bedlam’s Lowertown venue.
Chadwick “Niles” Phillips is the host of the event and the founder of Avant Garde. He promises a warm night of jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop, and bebop. Performers will be local artists including Theo Brown Music, Margeaux Davis, Lia Renee Dior, Proper-T, the Kevin Washington Quartet, and DJ Dan Speak. (Read Andrea Swensson’s 2012 profile of Theo Brown.) The event will also spotlight live painter Lorenzo Crockett.
The Avant Garde will host future arts events, shows, and outings in the Twin Cities area. Phillips is working to connect artists and merge ideas to present entertainment that brings people together. Many artistic cultures and generations are represented in the launch party’s lineup, revealing the Avant Garde’s ambition to promote all avenues of artistic expression. The launch party and coming events will be a blend of new and old ideas that pay homage to music history.
“This is about connecting all generations. The Avant Garde is about bridging the gaps between youth and the adult world,” said Phillips. “In connecting those two worlds, I want to leave no stone unturned.”
Phillips is a hip-hop artist, actor, director, and songwriter. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 and pursued his own music career in New York City. After some success, including releasing a single under Koch Records, Phillips returned to the Twin Cities where he has created hip-hop workshops and curricula for high school courses in the Twin Cities area. In Jan. 2014, with students from the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, Phillips produced an 11-track album called The Next Move.
Phillips founded the Avant Garde because he wholeheartedly believes in the social power of art and music. “Art is one of the last world-changers,” said Phillips. “I want Avant Garde to motivate and inspire people.” Philllips calls Minneapolis and St. Paul a perfect home for the Avant Garde. “I’ve always had an affinity with the Twin Cities. There is just something in the air here. So much talent.”
Anna Segner is a student at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.