The Arts & Ideas festival in New Haven is in full swing, with music, performances and more, most of them free – Hartford Courant
After two years of exciting but largely virtual programming, the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas is back, with dozens of free outdoor concerts and events on the New Haven Green, as well as dozens of live performances. indoor, lecture, gallery exhibits and more at venues throughout downtown New Haven.
The multi-faceted festival was founded more than a quarter century ago to bring cutting-edge theater and music projects to Connecticut from around the world. Arts & Ideas has become one of the state’s biggest tourist events this summer, at a time when downtown New Haven would otherwise be desolate after the Yale campus emptied.
For years, Arts & Ideas mostly ran for two weeks in mid-June, but Executive Director Shelley Quiala, who was recruited in 2020 and was able to run full festivals (if mostly online) in 2020 and 2021 despite COVID, has extended the lineup this year so that the main festival begins in May and runs until June 26. Special events also take place at other times of the year.
The 2022 festival is in full swing with a new opera by singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” on June 21-22 at the Shubert Theater. The Long Wharf Theater is co-presenting a musical performance in the making, “Capsule” by Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall, June 23 for free on the green.
Major bands on the green include jazz/gospel star Gregory Porter on June 19 at 8:45 p.m. and a “Symphony Goes to the Zoo” staged by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra featuring “live animals and artifacts of animals” on June 21 at 2:30 p.m. pm There’s a Latin Dance Party on the Green on June 15 with Bridgeport’s Orquesta Afinke and Cuban singer/guitarist Alex Cuba. Evelyn “Champagne” King headlines an R&B/soul revue on the green on June 24 at 6 p.m. There are also dozens of local bands and children’s music playing on the green, sometimes several times a day.
The festival’s list of lectures, demonstrations and “Ideas” book readings includes “The pursuit of happiness: how to reconnect with yourselfwith Yale professors Laurie Santos and Tamar Gendler on June 15; “The Power of Choice in Climate Change” with Paul Greenberg on June 22; and “A History of Ballroom” with drag ball veterans Miss Shalae and Aishah “Spyder” Murray on June 24. There are over a dozen Ideas events before the festival ends, and they’re all free.
Among the storytelling events are “Stir the Style: A Storytelling Mashup” featuring singer-songwriter Lys Guillorn and a line-up of star storytellers including Chicago’s Nestor Gomez and Connecticut’s Terry Wolfisch Cole and June 18 , and the “She speaks» collaborative storytelling on June 22.
The Dallas Black Dance Theater makes its Connecticut debut June 14-15 at the Yale University Theater. There’s special Juneteenth programming on June 19 with concerts, a bike ride, an appearance by chef and food activist Bryant Terry, a Juneteenth village of vendors and artisans, and an elders’ tribute ceremony. A day of fashion events on June 18 features local designer Neville Wisdom.
A full schedule of Arts & Ideas, which runs until June 26, is at artidea.org.
Christopher Arnott can be reached at [email protected].