Last summer, the first annual Mad Lit summer concert series filled the 100 block of State Street with music, poetry and joy on Friday nights. This groundbreaking concert series created a downtown spotlight for more than 80 musicians, visual artists and small business owners of color.
Starting July 1st, Mad Lit will return to the top of State Street with shows every other Friday from 8-11 pm. A list of this year’s performers is available now at The first night will feature KIC, Alise Mosely, RSHN 6 and DJ Terrence J.
The Mad Lit event series was started last year to revitalize State Street businesses and culture, which took a hit during the height of the pandemic. Mad Lit is a part of Greater Madison Music City and supported by the Urban Community Arts Network and the Madison Arts Commission. These organizations wanted to make a safe and fun way to enjoy downtown that intentionally centered artists and vendors of color. The social justice murals that covered State Street in 2020 brought more diverse groups of people to downtown; Mad Lit builds on that energy by showcasing music, art and small businesses run by people of color, using the outdoor spaces around the 100 block of State Street for fun, inclusive events designed to bring the community together.

“These events provided paid opportunities for musicians, visual and performance artists and dancers to showcase their work,” said Rob Franklin, the principal organizer of Mad Lit. “We wanted to intentionally combine arts and culture with commerce to give people a safe and fun way to enjoy downtown and support local business.”
Mad Lit aims to increase foot traffic downtown and put the spotlight on local businesses run by people of color. Last summer, pop-up shops utilized sidewalk space to showcase unique products from local, lesser-known small businesses that appeal to all.
Musicians often get the fame in performing arts, but there are many other people involved that made each performance possible. In 2021, eight individuals participated in the Mad Apprenticeship Program to learn how to transport, build and tear down stages and sound equipment used during the event series. The program also offered the opportunity to learn to create promotional material with design software and distribute that material by developing relationships with press outlets.

I hope you will come to Mad Lit this summer to enjoy live music, support local businesses and build community. Full details can be found on the Mad Lit website.

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