Celebrating 20 Years of Arts, Ideas and Community

Great performances are expected at The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in 2015

Every June, the New Haven community unites in celebration of the magical power of artistic expression. From music and dance, to theater performances and important conversations, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas has something for everyone.

The popular citywide event has been bringing together artists and thinkers from around the globe for 20 years. What all started as a simple idea – to shine a light on New Haven's rich artistic and educational culture – has expanded to include hundreds of events drawing artists and visitors from around the world.

As Festival co-founder Anne Calabresi recently reflected, "We are all partners in each other's tragedies and companions in each other's joys." That sentiment cuts to the heart of what the Festival is really about, which is bringing people together. It is ultimately a platform for open conversation and a shared celebration of the human spirt.

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has been supporting the Festival from the very beginning, providing seed funding that helped it to gain its place as one of the Northeast's foremost art festivals. Most recently, The Foundation's Arts Fund was used to provide a multi-year grant. Various donor advised funds have also supported the cultural and economic advancement that the Festival brings to the community. This funding helps to make the programs more accessible to residents, with over 80% of Festival events available free of charge.

The Foundation's relationship with organizers of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is a collaborative one. "We are working together toward building a stronger community," shares Thomas Griggs, Director of Development for the Festival. "We are true partners."

As for what is in store for the Festival this year, Griggs explained that, "We don't see our 20th year as a birthday or anniversary, but rather as a graduation. We are looking back to where we came from, while looking forward to the future." This graduation celebration honors the more than 2 million participants who have enjoyed the Festival over the past 19 years.

Some of the highlights of the 2015 Festival, which ran from June 12-27th, include:

  • Rodney King – It has been 24 years since the beating of Rodney King exploded into riots, as racial tensions flared. In this one-man show written and performed by Roger Guenveur Smith, the life and struggles of King are vividly portrayed, bringing attention to racial issues that continue to plague our country. (June 18 - 21, 2015, Long Wharf Theatre)
  • Carmen de Lavallade, "As I Remember It"– Witness a living legend, as this renowned performer, dancer, choreographer and former Yale professor reflects on her 84 years of life. Through captivating dance, film and the spoken word, de Lavallade shares how she broke glass ceilings in the 70s as an African American woman exploding onto the art scene in New Haven. (June 25 - 27, 2015, Yale Repertory Theatre) [Video intro: https://vimeo.com/124661240]
  • Cry You One – This outdoor performance by New Orleans-based Mondo Bizarro and ArtSpot Productions utilizes dance and music to share the stories of South Louisiana's diminishing wetlands, while also honoring and celebrating the people who live there. Set amidst the natural backdrop of the Regional Water Authority's Maltby Lakes, this unique performance keeps participants actively involved as they move along with the performers. (June 13 - 21, 2015, Maltby Lakes)

Did You Know?

In 2010, 8.1 million Connecticut residents, along with 1.1 million visitors, attended arts and culture events in the state.

Source: "The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences in the State of Connecticut (Fiscal Year 2010)," Americans for the Arts www.americansforthearts.org