The Festival celebrates and embraces the distinct cultures, voices, and big ideas of our home town of New Haven. Our community makes us what we are—from our amazing volunteers and community ambassadors to local artists to our annual neighborhood festivals, we love connecting with our neighbors to create a Festival that belongs to us all.

Neighborhood Festivals

Lively one-day neighborhood Festivals take place each year just prior to the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in downtown New Haven. Community Steering Committees, local arts and business partners, and Festival staff and volunteers host local talent, family activities, and vendors in New Haven’s historic and culturally rich neighborhoods.

NEA Big Read

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery.

The 2019 Big Read centers on Jhumpa Lahiri's book The Namesake, with related free events offered throughout Greater New Haven. If your organization would like take part, please submit your event below. Past Big Read events at a variety of venues have included book club discussions, panel discussions, lectures, exhibitions, and poetry readings directly related to or inspired by the central book. Submit Your Event Here >

Ambassador Program

Our most dedicated community supporters and advisors help us grow our programs, facilitate community conversations, and invite new audiences to participate in the Festival downtown.

If you are interested in participating as an Ambassador, please contact our Community Engagement Manager Aleta Staton at or (203) 498-3744.

Community Partners

Arts & Ideas relies on local and regional partner organizations to help bring people together and provide the most enriching and exciting opportunities to our community.

If you are interested in participating as a Community Partner, please contact our Community Engagement Manager Aleta Staton at or (203) 498-3744.

Global Sounds Pilot Program


Start your school day with us, exploring the wonderfully diverse yet universally connected musical sounds from across the globe. You'll be inspired by the elements of nature, the very essence of what inspires art and life!

What is it?

This program is a daily international music listening program—a creative, fun and easy way to support the cultural literacy curriculum at your school; provide daily immersion in the rich musical sounds from across the globe; and engage students in history and geography through the arts.

The Global Sounds pilot program is SIX weeks of music listening for elementary school students that is meant to be played over the school intercom at the start of the day to the entire student body, as part of morning announcements. It's a wonderful way to begin the day—with a musical spark of inspiration that sets your students up for success.