South Orange ‘creative collisions’ festival takes next step as SouthNext

The Smithereens will perform at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, June 18, as part of the South Next festival.

The Smithereens will perform at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, June 18, as part of the South Next festival.

The South by South Orange festival, which debuted last summer, will change its name, in its second year, to SouthNext, but the focus on “creative collisions” will remain the same, meaning there will be a variety of offerings —performances, panel discussions and interactive events — touching on, and sometimes mixing, the fields of music, visual arts, technology, politics and more.

The festival, which will take place June 17-19 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center and other venues, has booked its first national act: The Smithereens, who will perform at SOPAC on June 18. Tickets to this show, priced from $38 to $60, go on sale April 8 at noon, with a $10 discount for SouthNext attendees. SouthNext wristbands, priced at $25 through April 21, and $30 after that — and good for admission to all the events except the Smithereens show — are now on sale through the event’s new web site,

Just a few of the festival’s events have been announced. One is a “Tech(ing) Ball” at SOPAC, which combines a jazz performance with the development of a web application; the musicians and the developers will work together, and be inspired by each other’s ideas and improvisations. Others are a talk featuring local celebrities, moderated by David Brancaccio (host of the public radio business program, “Marketplace”); and a debate by three local mayors set in a boxing ring, and “refereed” by Seton Hall University professor Matt Hale.

The logo for the SouthNext festival.

The logo for the SouthNext festival.

Stephen Schnall — a South Orange Village trustee, and the event’s founder and main organizer — said that last year’s attendees were asked to suggest improvements, and that the festival has responded with changes such as more food options, and a couple of more hours of events on the last day of the festival, a Sunday.

“Another thing is just growing in size, in terms of the number of performances, the number of attendees,” he said, adding that he expects more than 1,000 paid attendees this year. “We’ve also added a couple of new venues.

“It’s incremental: I actually think in Year 3 we’re going to consider going out of the downtown village, maybe even to Maplewood and other towns.”

The full schedule is expected to be announced soon. For information, visit or the festival’s Twitter and Facebook pages.


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