With spring just around the corner, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas revealed its lineup Wednesday night in the Iseman Theater.
The festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer, will take place from June 12 to June 27. The festival will encompass a wide array of the arts and intellectual life, including Cajun music concerts, poetry performances and discussion panels with New York Times correspondents. Rock singer Lucinda Williams and pop artist Darlene Love will be two of the festival’s headlining artists this year and will play free evening concerts on the New Haven Green.
“This is not just the launch of a new festival,” said Mary Lou Aleskie, the festival’s executive director. “This is actually the launch tonight of a new decade of bringing great festivals to New Haven each June.”
The festival is an economic boon for New Haven, said Mayor Toni Harp in her remarks. She said the festival brings in roughly $30 million in economic activity and 100,000 visitors to New Haven each year, adding that the visitors help to improve New Haven’s reputation because they leave the festival with a positive impression of the city.
This year’s festival will be partly funded by a plethora of Connecticut organizations and institutions, including Yale, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and First Niagara Bank. The National Endowment of the Arts also offered a grant to the festival.
Several performers in this year’s lineup reflect the festival’s international scope. Plena Libre, a Puerto Rican plena and bomba band, will perform on the New Haven Green on the last day of the festival. Machine de Cirque, a circus show from Montreal, will make their United States debut on June 23 at the festival.
Even the U.S.-based performers in the festival come from less-traveled regions of the country. Cry You One, a theater and music act, hails from coastal south Louisiana.
Wednesday night’s event also included a panel discussion on the question of the future of interconnectivity and privacy in the Internet age. Led by John Dankosky, the host of “Where We Live” on WNPR, the panel included New Haven Independent Editor Paul Bass ’82 , longtime Connecticut politician and current director of Common Cause Miles Rapoport and postdoctoral associate Lauren Henry ’09 of the Yale Law School.
As part of the festival’s forward-looking vision, the panelists discussed the rapid evolution and societal effects of the Internet. The extent to which privacy can and should exist in the Internet age was a primary focus of their discussion.
Bass said that the concept of privacy often feels like a “lost cause,” but he admitted that a total lack of privacy might not be a desirable alternative. Henry noted that in some cases, a lack of privacy can make people unwilling to express their true opinions, choosing instead to conform to social norms.
Bass disagreed with Henry’s statement. He said the Internet has made it easier than ever to find communities composed of people who resemble one’s own personality. For example, he noted, people who like one type of indie music can connect with the rest of that community, even if other indie music enthusiasts live across the country.
Rapoport, who served in the Connecticut General Assembly as a Democrat for 10 years, expressed concern over the impact of the Internet on the future of democratic governance. He praised the Federal Trade Commission’s recent decision to regulate the Internet by classifying it as a utility.
Past headlining performers in the festival have included acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and rhythm and blues singer Mavis Staples.