Looking Back at 2020 with the Festival

It’s the end of a year like no other—2020 has been one of the most challenging of our lifetimes, and certainly it’s caused a lot of change at the festival. But in a year of great challenge, we found great creativity. Here are some favorite Festival moments from our staff.

Tom Griggs, former Co-Director:

Our Arts on Call program turned out to be a joyful idea that brought artists and audiences together!  I purchased Caribbean Vibes to play their steel drums at the end of their cull-de-sac.  My sister invited the whole street and everyone sat far away from each other, but danced on the street and enjoyed the music as a group – watching the smiles and the children dancing was so gratifying, but I was struck by HOW appreciative the artists were to have a venue to perform!

One of the MOST gratifying Festival events was the graduation of our Festival Fellows.  They started in person in January and pivoted to on-line in March, we were so thrilled that they came together with such creativity, strength and joy to complete the class AND to have been able to work with our Yale-China Fellows to create personal films on the effects of COVID on their lives with students from Hong Kong.  They were so eloquent in their remarks at their graduation, it brought me to tears of joy for the hope of the future through their eyes and experience.

Denise Santisteban, Tours Manager:

We started virtual food events this year with a webcam that was perched on a chair, on top of a table, with one table mic. It evolved to two cameras in different parts of a restaurant that could zoom in and out with a variety of mics! From the guys of Black Hog and the Stack talking about meat and beer, to over 300 people attending our first event with Ordinary- or the crazy Skappo event full of food and fun- food events were great this year. Hearing stories with Laura Herscovitch, Adam Matlock’s accordion, or Laconia Therrio’s workshop were all incredible!

Liz Fisher, former Co-Director:

I loved finding out all the hidden talents on our team – from Denise being a natural MC, to Doug handling a camera, and Allison taking over the Ideas contracting. It was a JOY!

Allison Hadley, Marketing Coordinator:

From our first few Zooms together meeting everyone’s beloved pets to seeing incredible events like Box City recreate the Elm City in Minecraft, this Festival helped me see my coworkers and city in a new and incredible light!

Missy Huber, Producer

Last fall, when we held (oh my gosh! in person!) Let’s Make a Dance Workshops a mother brought her two young daughters (I’d suppose both were under 8 years old). The daughters were wearing matching dancing attire including lovely hair ribbons and were READY TO DANCE! Both mom and daughters participated in the workshops and had a fabulous time.

Malakhi Eason, Director of Programming:

My favorite memory with IFAI is seeing Chris Davis perform live at a small bar downtown New Haven! He opened my eyes to all the wonderful talent that I will tap into within New Haven community.

Brian Nekoloff, Major Gifts & Individual Giving Manager:

The gala was my favorite Festival event this year. The community was supportive and showed up to celebrate our 25th anniversary even though we were 100% virtual, and it felt uplifting, fun, and glamorous.