Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's latest book, "Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk," was published in 2020 by University of North Carolina Press, and his podcast, Carolina Calling, explores the history of the Tar Heel State through music.

The North Carolina Museum of Art’s outdoor entertainment offerings for 2023 might be the most wide-ranging and diverse schedule ever offered in more than 25 years of gatherings at the museum’s Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Theater in Museum Park. One way to measure that is through Grammy Awards won by this lineup—the museum’s 2023 bookings feature 17 artists that have won a total of 64 Grammys in a sprawling array of categories, including jazz, gospel, roots, Latin jazz, salsa, r&b, soul, pop, adult contemporary, smooth jazz, blues, bluegrass, country and more.


2023 outdoor concert schedule

Tickets required, prices vary by event. 


The schedule already has more shows than the 11 that happened in 2022. Further dates are still in the works for this year, including a Music at the Museum show co-presented with the Come Hear NC program, tentatively set for early fall.

"This is a reflection of our expansion and how things have changed,” Moses T. Alexander Greene, the museum’s director of performing arts and film since the fall of 2020, says of this year’s schedule. “We’re telling more stories and reflecting more lived experience through music, dance, theater and film. You’re definitely seeing more stories belonging on that stage, an expansion of programming.”

Along with a robust live music schedule, the museum has nine movies scheduled to show outdoors in the amphitheater this summer.


2023 outdoor movie schedule

Tickets required, $7 entry for nonmembers (free for members of the museum).


“We are trying to represent all parts of American life and the people who make it up as much as possible, in nine movies,” says Greene. “’Turning Red’ was the first Pixar film solely directed by a woman and it was written by Julia Cho, so that raises the voices of woman and different cultures. Before ‘Dirty Dancing,’ we’ll have a free salsa dance class. And ‘Do the Right Thing’ is part of the museum’s ‘Juneteenth Joy’ weekend, in conjunction with the Ruth E. Carter exhibition and in honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.”

Also happening is an Aug. 25 Choreography Spotlight show with Carolina Ballet, plus free music events—NCMA Groove—on June 24 and Sept. 17. Add it all up, and this year’s entertainment season delivers on the diversity and inclusion Greene promised when he came to the museum.

“The theme of this season is connected to the state motto, Esse Quam Videri—‘To Be, Rather Than To Seem,’” Greene says. “Our intent is to reconnect people to their most authentic selves. The pandemic has been very hard on artists and institutions. As we continue trying to find our way, we want to give opportunities for self-love and healing through art, music, dance, theater and family-friendly films. This museum is a welcoming place of belonging and joy. When different people can see themselves and their experiences reflected onstage, it creates the innate sense of, ‘I belong here.’ That’s not just a sign you see in our East Building, it’s in the fabric of everything we do here.”

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