The mission of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is to create an internationally renowned festival in New Haven of the highest quality with world-class artists, thinkers and leaders, attracting and engaging a broad and diverse audience, celebrating and building community, and advancing economic development.
For 21 years, the Festival has delighted audiences with an outstanding mix of entertaining and inspiring programs. Internationally acclaimed dance, an eclectic array of world-class musicians, breathtaking circus, ground-breaking theatre and engaging speakers define the Festival as our region’s premier arts and culture destination.
Each year we welcome artists and speakers from all over the world - Angelique Kidjo, Bristol Old Vic, Handspring Puppet Company, Rosanne Cash, Little Richard, The National Theatre of Scotland, Yo-Yo Ma, Druid Theatre, Kronos Quartet, Spike Lee, and Salman Rushdie have all shared their talents and ideas. The Yale campus and New Haven’s historic downtown core form the perfect backdrop for this highly accessible, international event.
Key to the Festival’s success is keeping the majority of its programs available to public, regardless of individual income levels. The Festival removes offers 80% of its 170 events free to the public and promotes diversity through programming that connects audiences across generations, continents, and cultures.
The Festival’s community engagement programs include the Festival Fellowship Program for under-served youth, which immerses high school sophomores and juniors in an eight-month, intensive, arts-based leadership program and the Pop-Up Celebrations, which bring mini-festivals to historically isolated and economically challenged New Haven neighborhoods. The Festival is dedicated to the presentation of arts performances and context-building events that resonate with our communities and engage the big ideas of our times.
The Festival is now firmly established as one of the world's
most significant arts festivals. It has the distinction of fusing arts and
ideas programs to present a broad array of offerings across genres. The
Festival showcases hundreds of events each summer, many of them international,
with an impressive scale and scope unmatched in the Northeast.
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas was
established in 1996 by Anne Calabresi, Jean Handley and Roslyn Meyer. The
founders envisioned an annual celebration in New Haven - a small city rich with
diversity and steeped in strong cultural and educational traditions -
distinguished from established arts festivals by its fusion of ideas events. Their
aim was to gather world-class artists and pre-eminent thinkers from around the
globe, showcasing the city and the state as a major arts destination.
The Festival has presented dozens of U.S. premieres. Dynamic new artists from all corners of the Earth are invited to share
their unique talents and world views, reflective of the Festival's signature
inclination for brilliance, controversy, social cohesion, and fun. New in 2016 is a renewed commitment to the commissioning and development of new work, a new youth summit, a new apprenticeship program, an expanded Ambassador program, and new task force on the engagement of our Latino/Hispanic community.
The Festival’s overall
goals are to present a world-class performing arts Festival; to engage diverse
groups of people; to create economic and social vibrancy through targeted
community programs and shared celebratory experiences; to be true and
authentic to our region by programming culturally relevant artists; and to
improve cultural and international understanding.
Extraordinary: Each year Festival programming includes 150-200 events of which at least 85% are free, attracting an audience of 125,000.
Free: The most recognizable events are the Festival’s outdoor activities on the historic New Haven Green. Concerts, acrobats, family shows, walking tours, kids crafts, bike rides, dance workshops - ALL FREE - are enjoyed by thousands of CT families. The Festival is an early summer tradition with multiple generations gathering on the historic New Haven Green. The Festival presents 85% of all its events free to the public.
Vibrant: Each year the Festival creates millions of dollars in economic impact for our state; hires 170 seasonal workers, and generates 600 hotels stays. Of the Festival's 700 artists and speakers, 400 are from Connecticut. The Festival introduces audiences to the history, natural beauty and extraordinary cultural life of our region. In 2014, CNN named the Festival the top tourist destination in our state. The Festival and its community engagement programs bring vibrancy to our region socially and economically making it a more desirable place in which to live and work.
Diversity that Reflects Our Region: The 2015 Festival was the most geographically, economically and ethnically diverse audience to date with participants from every Connecticut County, 28 U.S. states and 12 countries. In 2015, 38% of Festival attendees identified as persons of color.
The Festival is uniquely positioned to create creative opportunities that add to the vitality and economic stability of our region. The majority of its programs are free. State and municipal officials recognize the impact of the Festival on our region’s cultural and economic vitality, and they have authorized significant public funding, but every year the Festival faces the possibility of this funding being reduced or eliminated. To achieve its goals and safeguard the future, the Festival must increase the total amount of contributed income.
The Festival has built a working capital reserve, which gives it the ability to self-finance operations and occasionally fund deficits. In order to maintain this important flexibility, which gives it the ability to make financial commitments that secure artistic programs, the Festival must increase its reserve to $3 Million. Towards this end, the Festival launched the Fund for the Future Campaign: to increase the working capital reserve, fund artistic work, and make critical infrastructure improvements. We have nearly met our goal with over $2 Million in committed funds.
The Festival is a sound investment. It has operated without a significant deficit for 11 years. It generates millions of dollars in annual economic activity and it attracts direct investments from foreign arts councils who send dollars into Connecticut with their artists.
For 21 years, the
Festival has addressed a fundamental need for a new model of local and
international engagement. By leveraging local organizational artistic talent
and adding American and international artists of global stature, the Festival
creates a synergy of creativity and discourse that sparks new ideas,
partnerships and a renewed sense of optimism.
The Festival is an important source of economic and community revitalization
and a source of pride and joy for 125,000 annual attendees.
philanthropic priorities have shifted, most noticeably in the business
community, there has been pressure to prioritize institutional and individual funding
for basic needs and education. The challenge we now face is how to continue to
articulate the intrinsic value of the arts, while at the same time
demonstrating the impact of the arts on community well being. This impact includes, among many
other things, the Festival’s economic impact, the Festival’s role as a builder
of bridges between neighborhoods, populations and cultures, the Festival’s
leadership in community coalitions, the bringing of external funding to the
city from national and international funders, and the Festival’s role as a
broker of relationships with artists and public officials from other countries.
Through engagement with the arts, the Festival improves individual and
community well being, creates jobs and increases community vibrancy.
point in our history, the Festival has an extraordinary portfolio of artists
and we have reached hundreds of thousands of people and lifted the spirits,
self-esteem and dreams of a community. Together we form a global stage where
regional and international artists can share the spotlight and we can all move
Festival 21 comes of age with a firm position on the world stage and deep roots in our community. We are recognized leaders in our field. From Taipei to Bogotá, we have presented programming ideas at forums and festivals, expanding our impact around the world. The Festival enjoys national and international media attention.
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas strives to acknowledge and publicize the incredible generosity of its sponsors through printed media, our website, and other forms of marketing and recognition. We welcome the opportunity to work with Corporations, Foundations and individuals on ways to deepen their involvement.
The Festival’s most recognizable events are the outdoor activities
on the historic New Haven Green. Headline Concerts attract thousands of
spectators. Artists have included Yo-Yo Ma, Rosanne Cash, the New Haven
Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Fendika (Ethiopia), La Santa Cecilia
(Mexico & U.S.A), Aaron Neville, Red Baraat (India), Darlene Love, and
Angelique Kidjo (Benin & U.S.A). The Green keeps hopping throughout the
Festival with afternoon and early evening performance by regional musicians and
dance companies. The family fun continues with Green Shows that feature
world-class acrobats; interactive storytelling, dance and music performances
for families; kids crafts; dance workshops; and a pizza festival! As if this
wasn’t enough, there are over 20 guided walking tours and 14 bike rides that
combine healthy exercise with presentations on public art, history, renewable energy,
gardens, greenhouses, parks and waterways.
Excerpt from an article in the New Haven Register, June 12, 2011
NEW HAVEN — Graysen Byrnes just turned five, but she’s already such a fan of cellist Yo-Yo Ma that her excitement over seeing him perform Saturday night wasn’t curtailed at all by a soggy Green and intermittent downpours.Actually, it was all heightened by the prospect of post-concert puddle jumping, her mom, Katie Byrnes, said. ...We knew, as long as we could, we’d be here,” dad said. “It’s important to bring her here because it’s important she gets culture rather than just Disney princesses.” …
Excerpt from an article in the New Haven Independent…
by Paul Bass, 6/22/09
The gospel-turned-R&B singer didn’t give up. That was the point.
It took two summers and three tries to get Mavis Staples headlining an Arts & Ideas Festival concert on the Green. Mother Nature kept getting in the way.
When Staples finally made it onstage … Sunday night, it was a triumph. A triumph of song, of course. And a triumph of perseverance.…
Perseverance was the text as well as the context of the evening. Mavis Staples took the audience back through her five decade-long career, from the family’s beginnings as a gospel-circuit group, through its alliance with Martin Luther King, Jr. … In Staples’ telling, it was all about setting a goal and never looking back. “Keep your eyes on the prize,” she sang. “Hold on.”…
Comment posted by Steve: A wonderful, emotional, living lesson in history for all the young people on the Green! Awesome!
The Festival offers unparalleled opportunity for our
audiences to see the finest in performing arts from around the nation and the
world. Art forms include theater, music, dance and special food events! These
experiences take place in traditional theater spaces, concert halls, restaurants
and nearby farms. At the Festival world-class art and culinary experiences are
presented at modest ticket prices with numerous programs that provide free and
discounted tickets to underserved demographics.
Mark Morris’s…“Dido and Aeneas” — a staging excellent as dance and phenomenal as dramatic poetry — had its premiere in Brussels 20 years ago. This week the Mark Morris Dance Group performed it … at the Shubert Theater as part of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas with a cast entirely composed of artists who have joined the company since then. Mr. Morris has made some works that are superior in their wealth of dance invention but nothing so abundant in meanings, suggestions and imagination. … I hope New York and other cities can see the production soon.
7/7/2008 – New Haven Register: In a study by the Urban Institute entitled “Cultural Vitality in Communities,” New Haven … ranked in the top ten communities in the country in the number of arts organizations, community celebrations, festivals and arts-related jobs. The study points to the incredible contribution the arts make to a rich quality of life and to the success of businesses…
The heart of the Ideas programs is a series of lectures and panel
discussion on humanities themes relevant to our community and the performances
presented at the Festival. Past speakers include Olu Oguibe, Salman Rushdie,
Art Spiegelman, Robert Pinsky, Sebastian Barry, Susan Sontag, Frank McCourt,
Ernesto Zedillo, Carl Zimmer and Emily Bazelon. Audience members can watch the
talks live or online. The Ideas Program also presents pre and post-show
conversations, workshops, and tours that increase the audience’s understanding
of artistic forms, expand performance topics and enrich understanding of
the big ideas shaping our world.
"I was greatly moved by this panel and have written about it on my blog. On the internet there are many stories about experiences in the military, but it is harder to find the success stories of those that have returned. I hope Col. Hoge’s book will encourage warriors to write about both sides of their experiences, as therapy and as role models for others. I received a comment from the child of a German WWII veteran on my blog, which reminds me that this isn’t only an American issue. Keep the dialog open and I look forward to more programs honoring our veterans in future festivals."
give economically challenged New Haven neighborhoods the tools and resources they
need to plan and execute their own celebrations. Pop-Ups feature local music,
theatre, poetry, walking tours, sports clinics and nutrition workshops. Programming is chosen by neighborhood residents via a
steering committee. These events contribute to community health and vitality by
expanding arts audiences, strengthening relationships between dispersed neighborhoods,
creating partnerships across service organizations and revealing community resources.
Pop-Ups also increase self-esteem by making the neighborhoods a more fun and
attractive place to live and work.
The Festival’s Fellowship Program is
an arts-based workforce and education program for low-income high school
sophomores and juniors. The program begins in January with weekly seminars
designed to improve oral and written communication skills using Festival
performance programs and arts management as subjects for essays, presentations
and creative expression. During the Festival, Fellows attend performances,
write critical responses and interview artists and staff. Fellows have a 90%
college attendance rate and 100% high school graduation rate. Through their achievements,
Fellows spark positive changes in their families, schools and communities.
Ed is attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia this fall.
Each Festival is a complex web of interconnected artistic performances and programs relating to the arts, culture, humanities, and social and political questions. Program planning begins by taking a look at the work of outstanding artists of international stature. In the early stages, one of the most important questions we must answer for ourselves is this: Could a performance of this work by this artist form the core of an extraordinary experience for our region? To determine the answer to that question, we ask many more, such as:
1. Has the artist been seen in our region before?
2. Can we deepen the understanding of this particular work of art and help reveal its meaning by the other programs we can offer around it?
3. Might this work highlight the cultural assets already present in our community?
4. Will this work deepen the everyday experiences of people in our community?
5. Will this work help celebrate the diversity of our community and help us to know one another better?
6. Is there a way in which the specific assets of our community can enrich the experience of the artists?
7. Does the program as a whole provide numerous points of entry (whether artistic genres, cultural traditions, or themes) so that diverse audiences can find their connection to it? Will people come?
8. Does this work complement other programs being planned? Is there a connective tissue among and between the programs?
We rely on our colleagues, local community leaders and partnering organizations to help us answer these questions. With the engagement of the whole Festival community, the interlocking pieces come together to create the experience that is the Festival, definitely a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Executive Director at IFAI since September 2005, Ms. Aleskie has provided leadership at the helm of numerous international organizations and projects as an executive, producer and presenter, in the support of landmark premieres as well as masterworks of the performing arts.
Prior to the Festival, Ms. Aleskie served as President/CEO of La Jolla Music Society,San Diego's premier presenter of world-renowned orchestras, dance companies, and soloists, as well as the producer of the award-winning chamber music festival La Jolla Summer Fest. Her decade-long tenure as Executive Director of Da Camera of Houston resulted in the company's first major international tours to include the world's most prestigious venues, from the Barbican Centre to the Kennedy Center.
Liz Fisher has worked for the Festival for the past fifteen years. Before moving to New Haven, she spent two years in Atlanta,Georgia, where she contracted the Cultural Olympiad for the 1996 Olympic Games. Prior to that, she toured with the circus for twenty years, the last three as the Associate General Manager for the Big Apple Circus. She is married to John Fisher, Executive Director of the Shubert Theater.
Melissa Huber holds an AB in History from Princeton University and an MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama where she received The Morris J. Kaplan Award. Melissa has previously worked at the Guthrie Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Magic Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Ensemble Theatre Company. A member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, she is also founding member and the Managing Director of Prospect Theater Company in New York City.
Collaboration is essential to the Festival's commitment to create an event that all citizens in the region will point to with pride and claim as their own. In an average year, we work with more than 150 arts and community groups. For example:
· Arts presenters, museums & galleries: Shubert Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Yale museums, New Haven Museum, and Young Audiences of Connecticut
· Arts agencies & membership organizations: NH Office of Cultural Affairs, Arts Council of Greater NH, and Connecticut DECD/Office of the Arts
· Professional and amateur arts organizations: New Haven Symphony, Music Haven, and Bregamos Community Theater,
· Educational institutions: NH Public Schools, New Haven’s six colleges and universities, Neighborhood Music School, and ACES
· Social Service, Neighborhood, and Faith-based Organizations: Junta for Progressive Action, Christian Community Action, and Community Management Teams
· All branches of the NH Free Public Library
We share or rent venues; coordinate plans; offer performance opportunities; advertise each others' programs; provide resident artists with technical assistance; co-present & co-produce events; and engage in dialogue about program ideas.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Greater New Haven is home to a thriving arts community that includes theatre, music, dance and the visual arts. It is invested in its museums, historic preservation and the celebration of its members’ ethnic and cultural diversity.
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