Purpose, Mission, and Vision

History of The Cool

On the third Friday of August 2011, Al Strong Quartet+1 performed at the first After Hours Concert at LabourLove Gallery to a standing room only crowd. This performance was to provide the local jazz musicians with a unique venue space to hold private concerts. It was also a chance to infuse visual arts with the live jazz concerts as Kelly Dew did live painting during the performance. Given the success of the first concert, LabourLove Gallery continued to provide the musical and visual art experience through the remainder of the year.


On November 9, 2011, The Art of Cool Project (AOCP) was incorporated as a nonprofit entity. The founders of AOCP decided that the concert series could be the foundation for a jazz and art presenting organization. The AOCP resolved to present at least 1 monthly concert featuring a variety of local musicians ranging across idioms. Since its inaugural concert in August, the AOCP quickly gained a reputation of standing room only concerts hosted at LabourLove Gallery at Golden Belt in downtown Durham, NC.

The AOCP has been described as “a strong addition to Durham’s bubbling music and art community.” (Eric Tullis – The Vinyl District, Chapel Hill, NC) In the summer of 2012 Art of Cool completed Startup Stampede 3.0 and became the first nonprofit to complete Startup Stampede. This is a big achievement that is sponsored by the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Durham Inc., We are the winners of the Pitch Challenge sponsored by Pruvop. We pitched for our Festival idea.


In 2014, we created The Art of Cool Festival a large scale conference that covered the entire footprint of downtown Durham. The festival practically became popular overnight and with memorable seminars, panels and performances. The festival broke acts like Los Angeles native, Anderson .paak, The Internet and fan favorites such as George Clinton, Roy Ayers. In 2018 we decided to sell the festival and continue improving our programs while we designed an even more engaging public experience.

The AOCP has been described as “a ripe Triangle jazz advocacy organization…curating snazzy nightlife options for area listeners.” (Eric Tullis - IndyWeek.com). The AOCP has featured the area’s best local talent and regional talent.


The Art of Cool Project (AOCP) is a 501(c)(3) music presenting non-profit organization that strives to cross artistic, economic and social boundaries to bring together a diverse mix of people, cultures, experiences, and creativity. The mission of AOCP is to present, promote and preserve jazz-and other influential musical genres in ways that build and uplift the community. The goal is to expand the audience for all-influential music especially those involving true musicianship.

The Art of Cool’s Core Values:

  1. To offer influential jazz education nationally
  2. To build a culture excited about jazz, education and innovative thought
  3. To expand the overall jazz audience
  4. To educate young musicians
  5. To inspire others through music, entrepreneurship, and culture
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Donating to The Art of Cool Project creates numerous opportunities for aspiring student musicians. These opportunities help develop young musicians by introducing keys educational elements at young ages. Show your support for The Cool by donating today!

Our Start of Cool jazz camp inspires the next generation of jazz musicians and listeners through private lessons, jam sessions, improvisation classes and interactions with professional musicians.

While Innovate Your Cool sparks the creativity of the next generation of innovators through STEAM based workshops, open discussions and hands-on demos covering all things Music, Innovation and Culture.

Your continued support enables the AOCP team to continue to provide world-class instructional opportunities and interactions to the community free of charge.


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