2021 FESTIVAL: The Year of IMAGINE

Imagine New Haven. Imagina un mundo sin fronteras. Imagine music. Imagine theater. Imagine a better world. Imagine yourself--at Festival 2021. 

In 2021, we explored the world as it is and how it could be with events ranging from drag to drumming, bike tours to beekeeping, truffle-making to cocktail-tasting, paddleboard yoga, hair art, fresh takes on Shakespeare, gospel, Grammy winners, and more. With 200+ events--95% of them free--Festival 2021 had something for everyone. And it has a life past June! 

The majority of this programming was live-streamed and recorded--and is available HERE to watch any time. Enjoy!

Festival 2021 in the News


Ideas Series:

The Ideas conversations bring together vital thinkers and doers to engage with national and international issues through the microcosm of the culturally rich, diverse, and complex communities of New Haven.

Joy Harjo in Conversation with Madeline Sayet

An NEA Big Read Event

  VIRTUAL EVENT

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The first Native American Poet Laureate and a member of the Muscogee Nation, Joy Harjo will reflect on her award-winning body of work, including An American Sunrise: Poems, the Festival’s selection for the 2021 year’s NEA Big Read.

Listening to Earth: Indigenous Wisdom & Climate Futures

An NEA Big Read Event

  VIRTUAL EVENT

watch video

Hear from Indigenous voices on the climate knowledge that has existed in their communities for generations and the practical solutions that can spur a better collective attempt at caring for our planet.

The Legacy & Future of Love as Liberation

A Panel on Mutual Aid

VIRTUAL EVENT

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A conversation with global majority organizers and artisans who have been doing mutual aid prior to the pandemic.

Indigenous Writers of Connecticut

An NEA Big Read Event in partnership with the New Haven Museum

VIRTUAL EVENT

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This panel discussion will inform our deeper understanding of contemporary indigenous culture and the living writers - our neighbors - who represent its diversity and strength.

The 15 Minute City: Imagining the Future of Transportation

In partnership with: The CT Mirror & Pickard Chilton

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Join radio journalist and moderator John Dankosky for this series of short presentations followed by a panel discussion on human-centered cities.

New Haven Pride Center Day of Action: LGBTQ+ Racial Justice

In partnership with the New Haven Pride Center

VIRTUAL EVENT

A full-day mini-conference combating racism in the LGBTQ+ community through discussion, group learning, and artistic perspectives.

New Haven Museum Founders Chat: Finding Your Rhythm

In partnership with the New Haven Museum

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Alisa Bowens-Mercado in conversation with Randi McCray on entrepreneurship and creative passion.

Reimagining Economies: Entrepreneurship and Building A Solidarity Economy

In partnership with Collab New Haven

VIRTUAL EVENT

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A panel discussion on the role of entrepreneurship in creating a solidarity economy that benefits all. 

WORKSHOP: World-Building with Moiya McTier

VIRTUAL EVENT

Kick-start your creative flow by learning how to build fictional worlds with astrophysicist and folklorist Moiya McTier.

Crowning Glory: The Art of Hair

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Hosted by the Festival's Director of Programming and Community Impact, this panel of community advocates, beauty experts, and multi-dimensional artists will discuss topics ranging from the politics and art of hair to styling trends.

Monuments and Collective Memory

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Adriane Jefferson, Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of New Haven, leads a panel of artists and experts in conversation about how monuments shape the fabric of our landscapes and serve as permanent reminders of what and who our society values.

Imagine a World Without Prisons

VIRTUAL EVENT

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In this panel, abolitionists imagine a different justice system that moves beyond punishment into transformative justice that works for all, not some.

How Artists Shape Our Future

VIRTUAL EVENT

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New Haven Director of Cultural Affairs Adriane Jefferson leads a talk among many of the festival’s main headliners on the topic of what a future honoring artistic diversity can (and should!) look like.

Brilliant Boba: Amplifying Asian Voices

In partnership with Yale China

VIRTUAL EVENT

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This discussion, led by Brilliant Boba, a team composed of storytellers, artists, and educators in New Haven, will provide attendees with creative resources that build intercultural empathy and social emotional skills.

Honoring Our Bodies: A Future For All Abilities

VIRTUAL EVENT

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A panel on creating a world that accommodates all abilities and communities of care.

Imaginando un Mundo sin Muros, Jaulas y Detención

In partnership with Melting the Ice

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Luis Luna guiará este panel de discusión en el que una breve introducción al sistema de detención actual de ICE servirá como punto de partida para imaginar cómo se vería un mundo sin ICE.

Everything You Touch, You Change: Visionary Science Fiction and Liberation

In partnership with The Schwarzman Center

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Award-winning luminaries will touch on themes of Afrofuturism, Octavia Butler, and bringing a creative approach to our understanding of what social justice initiatives of the future might look like.  

Black Futures

In partnership with The Narrative Project

VIRTUAL EVENT

Co-founder of the Black Lives Matter (#BLM) movement, organizer, and civil rights activist Alicia Garza will sit down with Mercy Quaye, Founder and President of The Narrative Project, in a one-on-one conversation about the future of black lives in America.

Looking Ahead: A Conversation on COVID-19, Racial Justice, and Arts and Culture

Sponsored by AARP

VIRTUAL EVENT

The past year has been a flashpoint in the country’s reckoning with racial justice and has created space for a collective reimagining. How has this time of dynamic change manifested in the arts and cultural sector?


Neighborhood Festivals

Neighborhood Festival Committees, local arts and business partners, and Festival staff and volunteers host local talent for one-day festivals celebrating New Haven's historic and culturally rich neighborhoods. This year, our Neighborhood Festivals are fully virtual to ensure we are able to celebrate our neighbors safely.

The Hill

Neighborhood Festival

VIRTUAL

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Join your neighbors in a celebration of The Hill with performances by Manny James, Charisa The Violin Diva, and a showcase at the Hill Museum.

Newhallville

Neighborhood Festival

VIRTUAL

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Join your neighbors in a celebration of Newhallville with performances by Thabisa Rich,  DJ Prime, the Wayne Brown Band, and KP On the Set.  In conjunction with this virtual festival there will be a mini health clinic on the corner of Shelton Ave and Ivy Street.

West Rock/West Hills

Neighborhood Festival

VIRTUAL

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Join your neighbors in a celebration of West Rock with performances by John the Violonist, MegaHurtz Entertainment Company, Boogie Chillun, and Corey Staggz Sax.

Dixwell

Neighborhood Festival

VIRTUAL

Join your neighbors in a celebration of Dixwell with performances by Chris "Big Dog" Davis, Maysa, Nick Colionne, and Phil & Lil Perry.


Storytelling

Convert your home into a virtual dinner theater with these evenings of music, storytelling, and food.

Dinner Stories: Transformation

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Convert your home into a virtual dinner theater with this evening of music, storytelling and food.

Dinner Stories: Remembrance

VIRTUAL EVENT
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Join us for an evening of sounds, storytelling and sustenance, as we dive into traditions of remembrance.

StorySLAM

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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Join us for a festival storytelling slam, where a group of curated professional performers will battle head-to-head for the title of top festival slammer.


MUSIC

Experience the sounds of summer with artists including New Haven's own Thabisa and Movimiento Cultural. 

Imagine Beginnings

Festival 2021 Opening Ceremony

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Imagine: A mini version of the whole International Festival of Arts & Ideas, complete with musical performances, talks, and a film!

Dawn Tallman

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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Dawn Tallman, The Queen of Gospel Energy, has been compared to those of many great vocalists, like Chaka Khan, Karen Wheeler and Oleta Adams, yet her style is completely & audibly her own.

Darrel Walls

HAPPY HOUR BROADCAST

Broadcasting 7/29 at 5PM on our Virtual Stage

Multi-Grammy-nominated Gospel songwriter and vocalist Darrel Walls brings a strong sense of rhythm and melody to the songwriting process in equal measure.

Riff Cohen

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Singing in a melange of French, Arabic, English and Hebrew, in a style drawing on Algerian folk music, rock, and Mizrahi music, Israeli singer-songwriter Riff Cohen offers a heady window into our increasingly multicultural future.

Movimiento Cultural

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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This New Haven community-based organization entertains and educates on Puerto Rico’s rich African-based folklore, music, and dance, focusing on the Bomba, an ecstatic expression of Puerto Rican tradition and culture.

Paa Kow

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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Internationally acclaimed Ghanian drummer and composer Paa Kow performs on a custom, hand-carved, traditionally inspired Ghanian drum set that is the only one of its kind.

Kodo

VIRTUAL EVENT

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Japanese drumming group Kodō has popularized traditional Japanese taiko worldwide with their athletic performances and manipulation of the world's most impressive drums.

Thabisa Rich

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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New Haven performer Thabisa blends elements of African jazz, Afropop, soul, and funk in a style that is unmistakably her own.

Grace Kelly

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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Before the age of 16, Korean American singer, saxophonist, and composer Grace Kelly performed at Barack Obama’s inauguration and was a soloist with the Boston Pops. 

Chillie Willie Groove Band

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH NOW

 

“Shake Your Body Baby” isn’t just a Chillie Willie song title, it’s a lifestyle. Chillie Willie fuses funk, rhythm and blues, soul, smooth jazz, and salsa influences into a dynamite dance floor invitation.

Ladama

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

This band features four women musicians and activists originating from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and the US.

WATCH NOW

Bassel & The Supernaturals

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

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Bassel Almadani brings a Syrian heart and a Chicago soul to The Supernaturals' singular, funk-inspired compositions and “captivating” (Paste) performances.


DRAG

Drag royalty worked this town into a fun-filled and informative tizzy. In this legendary mainstage event, drag performers and educators displayed drag performance styles across the decades.

The Legend Drag Show

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH VIDEO

Drag royalty are descending on New Haven, ready to WORK this town into a fun-filled and informative tizzy. In this legendary mainstage event, drag performers and educators will display drag performance styles across the decades.


Hair Art

This catwalk event featured never-before-seen hair styles hosted by neo-soul talent Durand Bernarr while hairstyle innovator Shawn Jon crafted ultramodern hairstyles in real-time.

Crowning Glory: The Art of Hair

VIRTUAL EVENT

WATCH VIDEO

Hosted by the Festival's Director of Programming and Community Impact, this panel of community advocates, beauty experts, and multi-dimensional artists will discuss topics ranging from the politics and art of hair to styling trends.

Art & Hair Show

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH VIDEO

This catwalk event will feature never-before-seen hair styles hosted by neo-soul talent Durand Bernarr while hairstyle innovator Shawn Jon crafts ultramodern hairstyles in real-time.


Theater

Youth group stars of the Elm Shakespeare Company tackle Shakespeare’s classic tragedy with the help of Ice the Beef, a Connecticut nonprofit committed to gun violence prevention, a sneak peek at Long Wharf Theatre's upcoming season with performances from the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange--and more!

Madeline Sayet and Jacob Padron in Conversation

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH NOW

Madeline Sayet will discuss her work with Long Wharf Theatre's artistic director Jacob Padrón, Co-founder of the Artists' Anti-Racism Coalition and Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project.

Long Wharf Showcase

In partnership with Long Wharf Theater

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH NOW

A sneak peek at the Theatre's upcoming season with performances from the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange.

Romeo and Juliet

Elm Shakespeare Company and Ice The Beef Youth

IN-PERSON & LIVE-STREAMED EVENT

WATCH NOW

Youth group stars of the Elm Shakespeare Company tackle Shakespeare’s classic tragedy with the help of Ice the Beef, a Connecticut nonprofit committed to gun violence prevention.


Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free (two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation). The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order; but with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Juneteenth Opening Ceremony, Elder Honoring, and Mantle Award

With the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

WATCH VIDEO  

Messages by Mayor Justin Elicker and Elder Byron Breland, and performances by Dr. Karima Robinson as Ida B. Wells, Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company, singer Lucitta Odyce Adger, artist/poet Shaunda Holloway, and and singers Pamela Campbell and son, Gabriel Abdul-Kareem.

Juneteenth Children & Family Programming

With the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

WATCH VIDEO

Storytelling by New Haven Educators and a cooking class by Randi McCray, Founder of Connecticut Urban Technology and the Urban Collective.

Juneteenth Day: "Visions of Our Future" Virtual Performances

With the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven

M'Bosse Dance Company of Senegal and Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company with music by Elder Brian Jarawa Gray, Antwain Johnson, Jr. as Fred Hampton, and the Rahsaan Langley Project..

WATCH VIDEO


Dance

WATCH VIDEO:
Movimiento Cultural

NEA Big Read

Join us as we celebrate US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo's An American Sunrise, the Festival’s choice as the 2021 NEA Big Read. Harjo’s poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living amid the ruins of injustice.

WATCH VIDEO:
Joy Harjo in Conversation with Madeline Sayet
Listening to Earth: Indigenous Wisdom & Climate Futures
Indigenous Writers of Connecticut

Public Art

*more information to come soon*

Fellows

The International Festival of Arts and Ideas High School Fellowship Program offers qualified New Haven public school sophomores and juniors a unique, fully funded opportunity to learn about the arts. The semester-long college-level course is designed to develop students’ skills in communication and critical thinking by immersing them in all aspects of the Festival, including performances, lectures, community engagement, production, and management.

Food

Tours

*more information to come soon*

Arts on Call

Through Arts on Call, community members gifted someone they love with a—socially distanced—arts performance by selecting an artist from the roster to perform at an outdoor location of their choice.
New Haven Arts on Call is modeled after Sidewalk Serenades, a program created in March 2020 by Creative Alliance in Baltimore.

Workshops

*more information to come soon*

The Green

The New Haven Green is the beating heart of the Festival's in-person offerings, with free performances featuring both the greatest artists in the world today and the best and brightest from the regional community. The stage is built for each Festival on the historic New Haven Town Green, one of the first planned, publicly available green spaces in the country.

WATCH VIDEO:
Imagine Beginnings
Arts & Hair Show
Dawn Tallman
Gospel Brunch: Kevin Monroe & Devotion with Pastor Danny Bland
Darrel Walls
Movimiento Cultural
Paa Kow
Thabisa Rich
Madeline Sayet and Jacob Padron in Conversation
Long Wharf Showcase
Grace Kelly
Chillie Willie Groove Band
Ladama
Romeo and Juliet
StorySLAM
Bassel & The Supernaturals
The Legend Drag Show