Welcoming Hip Hop Diplomacy Program Next Level’s New Director, Junious Brickhouse

Media Contact:
Megan Devlin | (202) 939 5550 | mdevlin@meridian.org

June 17, 2019
Meridian International Center


Award-Winning Urban Dance Educator and Community Leader Junious Brickhouse Steps Up in New Role with Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy and UNC’s Next Level Hip Hop Exchange Program

Next Level Director Emeritus, Mark Katz (right), passes the mic to new Director, Junious Brickhouse (left) during Next Level Global in New York City. (Photo credit: @adum7x)

Washington, D.C. – As the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy prepares for the Next Level orientation June 1721 in Washington, D.C., the hip hop diplomacy program is gaining new leadership as it welcomes Junious Brickhouse as its director.

Next Level is an initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Meridian International Center that promotes conflict transformation, entrepreneurship, and artistic and professional development among younger and under-served audiences around the worldSince 2014, Next Level has sent 111 U.S. artists to 30 countries on 6 continents.

Junious Lee Brickhouse, founder and executive director of Urban Artistry Inc. in Silver Spring, MD, has been with Next Level since its inaugural season in 2015. He participated as an artist-educator with Next Level Team Senegal before becoming a site manager for numerous residencies. Junious previously served as Next Level’s associate director and co-director, as well as site manager for residencies in Indonesia, Egypt, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Mexico.

In announcing Junious Brickhouse as new Next Level Director, Lindsay Amini, Director of Cultural Programs at the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, says, “We are thrilled to have such a talented artist and cultural visionary leading Next Level. It has been such a pleasure to have Junious on the team and we look forward to working with him to continue building a global community through hip hop culture.”

Dr. Mark Katz, Next Level Founding Director and Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, “Junious brings to Next Level a rare combination of artistic brilliance, cultural sensitivity, educational excellence, and logistical savvy. I can’t wait to see how Next Level grows and develops under his leadership.”

As the new Director of Next Level, Junious promotes international cultural exchange, facilitates conflict transformation programming, and nurtures entrepreneurial skill-building through hip hop music and dance.

“I’m honored to be working with respected institutions - Meridian, UNC Chapel Hill and the U.S. State Department - as the latest director for Next Level, and I don’t take this responsibility lightly," Junious said. "I go into it with a warrior’s spirit and a servant’s heart. I take it very seriously. If you would have told that 8-year-old kid that wanted to join City Limits Crew in Norfolk, Virginia that I would be directing a State Department program about the same culture that I was falling in love with, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But a lot of things have come full circle with me.”

About Meridian

Meridian International Center is a diplomacy and global leadership institution that strengthens U.S. engagement with the world through the exchange of leaders, culture and ideas. Founded nearly 60 years ago as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, Meridian works with governments, the private sector and the diplomatic community to help leaders better address the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly globalized society. The Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy employs the arts and culture as a tool of diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding. The Center collaborates with embassies, governments and the private sector to curate cultural diplomacy programs ranging from vibrant visual art displays to film screenings, exchanges and concerts.

To learn more about Next Level and the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, please visit the Next Level website (www.nextlevel-usa.org) and our events calendar.

About Junious Brickhouse

Junious “House” Brickhouse is an educator, choreographer, and cultural preservationist with over 30 years of experience working with communities of practice in Urban Dance Culture on both a national and international scale. As Founding Executive Director of Urban Artistry Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of urban dance culture, Junious co-produces the annual International Soul Society Festival, promotes community archiving through Urban Artistry’s Preservatory Project, and manages documentation and digital assets in the Urban Artistry Digital Archives. Junious began his dance career in his childhood home of Virginia Beach, Virginia and continued to hone his artistic and choreography skills during international military assignments throughout his 21-year career as a Logistics Professional in the U.S. Army and later as a civilian. These experiences are the foundation for Junious’s commitment to responsible transmission and preservation of hip hop culture, which includes an understanding of its origins in Ring Shouts, Acoustic Country Blues, and other traditions of emancipation. He tours as a dancer through the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowshipand with harmonica player and songwriter Phil Wiggins, illuminating the ancestral connection between hip hop and The Blues.

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