American singer-songwriter George Clinton, Mexican-American singer and actress Lila Downs, Palestinian music collective 47SOUL and band M.A.K.U. Soundsystem will headline New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas this June, festival planners announced on Tuesday.
The annual festival brings a diverse group of international artists and performers to the Elm City. Featuring a variety of events including concerts, lectures and theater performances, the festival aims to offer New Haven residents a unique cultural opportunity, said Mary Lou Aleskie, its executive director. This year, the program will present two world premieres, eight U.S. premieres and three original commissions, among them the global debut of “The Square Root of Three Sisters,” a play organized in collaboration with the School of Drama. This year’s festival will run from June 10 until June 25.
Aleskie said the festival places particular emphasis on the audience’s experience.
“The balance of the festival isn’t necessary in the performances offered, but in what the audience thinks and how the program can have local resonance,” Aleskie said. “We seek to attract a diverse group of people that otherwise might not come together.”
The event will also feature a concert by Indian “party band” Red Baraat and a collaborative performance between the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Cirque Mechanics, an American circus.
Chad Herzog, the festival’s director of programming, noted that the event’s lineup of artists represents the culmination of a much longer collaborative process. Herzog added that the event organizers have, in many cases, been working with the performers for quite a while or have followed their work for a number of years. He said that the festival’s organizing team designs the lineup based on prior experiences with audience reactions to the artists.
This organizing team is comprised of roughly a dozen individuals who work throughout the year to plan the festival, especially to secure the U.S. and world premieres of new works for the event, Aleskie said. She added that an additional 190 people staff the festival’s core events in June.
“We are proud of how many world premieres and U.S. premieres are coming to be a part of the festival,” Aleskie noted. “People would not be able to see them in other places, so it will feel very special.”
Additional events and performances in April will kick off this year’s festival, Aleskie said, and are intended to pique New Haven residents’ interest for the festival’s core events in the early summer. The first of these performances is a play from the National Theatre of Scotland, “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” which runs at the Yale Cabaret from March 30 until April 3.
The majority of events at the Festival of Arts and Ideas are free, Aleskie said, noting that the event typically brings in an audience of approximately 100,000 to 120,000 people, among them Yale students, the broader New Haven community and visitors from further afield.
Shalisa James ’18 and Nicole Cai ’18 both expressed interest in the event, noting that it presents an interesting cultural opportunity for Yale students remaining in the Elm City during the summer recess.
“I believe that this is a great opportunity for Yale students who will be spending the summer in New Haven to discover more about the city as well as various international performers,” James said.