SouthNext Festival

June 16 - 18, South Orange, NJ

By Gregory Burrus

On April 4, 2016 South Orange Village Trustee, Steve Schnall, announced the dates for the SouthNext festival in South Orange, NJ.  The SouthNext festival is a 3-day affair that runs June 16 to June 18, 2016. 

Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

So What Is SouthNext?

As announced by Stephen Schnall, South Orange Village Trustee and the event founder: “SouthNext will feature 20 creative and interactive sessions, 12 musical performances, and a 'Creative Midway' of participatory happenings and community art projects which will be available to the general public. Considered the first such festival in New Jersey, SouthNext focuses on the intersection where art, music, and provocative ideas meet and the creative explosions that come from connecting and collaborating.”

Steve also stated: “The festival’s rebranding is edgy and provocative, and it successfully reflects the festival’s core idea of bringing together local artists, musicians, and thinkers to creatively collide."  He stated that for SouthNext, "The Village is the Venue…. taking advantage of the dynamic, walkable and compact South Orange Village Center."  Venues and partners include the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), restaurants, bars, parks and public spaces to engage the region’s vibrant, creative community.

Last Year a Huge Success

Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

While unique to New Jersey, the festival was run last year under a name (South by South Orange) no longer to be used, as another organization objected to it.  Rebranded to SouthNext, things bode well because last year it was a wonderful 3 days of Arts, Ideas & Music colliding on different days, different venues, and stages all day, all over the downtown South Orange, NJ area.  Open to the public, adults and children alike, you picked your event, had some fun, learned a lot, and you moved on to the next event.  Enjoying the best of music, art and technology all day, summed up by a nightly event that encapsulated the concepts of the SouthNext festival in one major performance at the South Orange Performing Art Center (SOPAC). 

While there are many venues, the primary one is the beautiful South Orange Performing Art Center, and also a major sponsor that will host a full 3 floor opening event that will surely get everyone on board for the festival activities.

Local Business Participation

In addition to the lead sponsor, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, various other major local sponsors have signed on to support SouthNext 2016, such as Stop and Shop, Investors Bank, Chubb and more. 

One such business is Work and Play that is located at 19 Prospect St, South Orange, NJ 07079.  They have a unique, pretty cool, I think,  business model that is a much needed concept for working adults. 

“Work and Play is a co-working space with childcare and classes in downtown South Orange, NJ.”  Their focus is to supply work spaces that fit each individual's various work needs.  On the children side, they believe that:  “your child will independently choose from materials that they can use to discover more about themselves and the world around them.” 

For SouthNext, they intend for your children to experience the festival just like the adults.  

“Young children can also collaborate and inspire in our exploration space.  Our materials and programs invite children to experiment with shaving cream, paint, pipettes, play-dough, colored ice, blocks, and more.  More at

Hence, Work and Play will provide complimentary childcare for SouthNext patrons, the wristband holders, on the second day of the festival, Sat. June 18. 


Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

Image Credit: Gregory Burrus

One of the issues with rebranding when forced into a name change is the development of on and offline materials.  Well this year, SouthNext has a wonderful new website developed by South Orange local business folks Jamie and Priscilla Goldman.  The business name is 4 Elbows, and they have done a wonderful job of recreating the feel and excitement of last year with an updated design for this year.  It’s a place you want to visit. 

SouthNext a creative collision of Art, Ideas and music

It’s going to be exciting because there was a positive buzz amongst media members, and as the website states: 

SouthNext brings local artists, speakers and performers together to provide a catalyst for wider acceptance and new thinking.  SouthNext goes beyond just a casual experience: our performances and sessions encourage audiences to dig deeper and discover why creative collisions deserve to be celebrated.

Sometimes different ideas, genres and melodies run parallel.  Sometimes they collide.  It’s those creative collisions that the SouthNext festival explores and celebrates.  South Orange and its sister community of Maplewood are the perfect hosts of SouthNext, as they are nationally recognized as diverse communities which not only tolerate but truly embrace differences."

There is a lot to learn including getting involved and getting your early advance ticket at:

About the Writer

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions.  On a regular basis I promote art, music, business, government and local community events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photo journalism.  Gregory Burrus resides in beautiful, historic town of South Orange, New Jersey, the home of beautiful gas lamps, many historic buildings, some wonderful old trees, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Seton Hall University, South Mountain Reservation and many gorgeous, vibrant, growing communities in the surrounding North Jersey towns and cities of Essex County.  Having fun living life while helping others. Connect with Gregory Burrus:Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | Twitter
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