Summer festival to draw arts, residents to Green

Students stuck in New Haven for the summer will not necessarily have to trek to New York for a night of fun. A planned summer-long festival will bring weekly music acts, movies and poetry readings to the New Haven Green and encourage city dwellers to “C’mon, live a little.”

In hopes of reviving the New Haven Green as a center of community activity and bringing public perceptions of the city in line with reality, Market New Haven, a marketing organization funded by the city, unveiled Tuesday New Haven’s new motto, “New Haven: C’mon, live a little,” which complements an arts and entertainment festival planned for the summer months.

The festival, “Starry, Starry Saturday Nights,” draws its name from a painting by Van Gogh. It will shape the activities on the Green every weekend from June to mid-September. Scheduled events include a family film series on Fridays, a five-concert series on Saturdays and a Poets’ Corner every Sunday, said Susan L. Hartt, executive director of Market New Haven.

Featured musicians include Little Feat, Dar Williams, The Roots, and Richard Shindell and The Nields, a rock group that got its start in New Haven, she added. The Roots sang at Woolsey Hall a year and a half ago.

Besides sticking to a budget, Hartt said her organization’s top priority has been to represent different ethnic groups and appeal to various musical tastes in its selection of musical acts.

Hartt said she hopes people who like one group will also attend performances by unfamiliar artists, broadening their own tastes and drawing a diverse crowd.

The Sunday poetry portion of the program grew out of Hartt’s personal interest. She said cities such as London have open-mike sessions which draw local voices onstage, and she hopes New Haven residents will take advantage of the chance to showcase their talents.

“Among New Haven’s strengths is that it is the arts and entertainment capital of Connecticut. More than one million people visit New Haven each year for our cultural attractions, and the addition of these events ensures that anyone who visits New Haven will have a terrific time,” Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said in a statement. DeStefano is a member of Market New Haven’s board of directors.

Hartt said that for the first two years, the campaign will focus on New Haven residents. Then, depending on the events’ success, Market New Haven hopes to attract visitors from greater Connecticut and even New York and Boston.

Advertising for “Starry, Starry Saturday Nights” is gearing up right now.

Market New Haven will promote the summer activities with a new ad campaign focusing on nightlife, dining and entertainment. With eclectic restaurants, a variety of newly opened clubs, and a plethora of fine arts venues, the city has made great strides in recent years toward becoming more cosmopolitan. Now, the advertisers are trying to attract people into the city to see these changes.

The campaign will focus on television and radio as well as print ads, including a supplement in the New Haven Register.

To promote the festival, the city is adopting a new motto for its image: “C’mon, live a little.”

“Everything we do will carry [that] logo and tag line. It was important to reinforce the notion that New Haven is ‘happening’ and fun — just like the advertising. There are always great things going on in New Haven — but especially this summer,” Hartt said.

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