PVDFest Returns to “America’s Coolest City” for a Fourth Year
April 4, 2018
Providence, RI – City of Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and Founding Partner FirstWorks announced details for PVDFest, Providence’s signature art festival, which will return for its fourth edition June 7-10, 2018. The Creative Capital comes alive for a free four-day festival that celebrates artists from around the globe and around the corner.
“There is no better way to experience what Providence’s creative DNA offers than attending PVDFest,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “This year’s festival will be the biggest one yet for the Creative Capital, featuring unique programming that will inspire crowds and allow them to enjoy themselves like never before. From exciting new public art installations and bumper car races, to some of the best cuisine and musical performers in the world, PVDFest will be another unforgettable experience.”
Building upon the success and energy of the past three years, PVDFest continues to evolve by connecting over 75,000 attendees with Providence’s vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, world class culinary offerings and some of the nation’s most talented artists and musicians. The four days of programming will transform Downtown spaces into world-class performance stages, cutting edge art galleries, a food village and culturally diverse block parties. PVDFest attendees will discover new and exciting art installations as they travel within the festival footprint, as well as unique programming, around every corner.
“We’ve curated PVDFest 2018 for people who are curious about the world, eager to engage with each other, and ready at all times to have fun and celebrate our Creative Capital!” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. “FirstWorks searches the world to meld the highest artistic excellence from Spain, Mexico, Africa, South America, and more with the vibrant creativity and diversity of the communities that make-up Providence. We’re proud to be the founding partner of a festival that seeks to reflect the unique qualities of our city and its people and to share it with the world!”
As Founding Partner for the Festival, FirstWorks will curate spectacles, music and dance performances that will light up Downtown, spotlight international stars and local favorites that will have festival-goers dancing in the streets and discovering global culture from the world’s stage.
“From the North End to the West End, and from the South Side to the East Side Providence is home to some of the most creative and forward-thinking artists anywhere,” stated City Council President David A. Salvatore. “We are the ‘Creative Capital’ for a reason, and PVDFest puts our city’s vibrant and unique culture on display for all the world to see. My wife and I look forward to another amazing festival!”
This year’s festival will kick off on Thursday, June 7, with a one-day Ideas Conference that will explore the future of cities across the nation. The Ideas Conference will explore how artists, scientists, academics, designers and thinkers are applying data to decision making with wide-ranging implications for public policy and public health. The Providence community is invited to join guest speakers, including local thought leaders and regional practitioners, who are exploring ways that technology and design are transforming all aspects of how we live. Tickets to the Ideas Conference will be available in the coming months at PVDFest.com.
Friday’s programming will include a history-making, participatory Bachata dance with a twist. PVDFest is calling for hundreds of couples to join Mambo Pa Ti, the largest Latin dance organization in Rhode Island, as they dance their way to breaking the Guiness World Record for most people dancing a choreographed Bachata dance. Greece currently holds the record with 370 couples dancing. Additional Friday programming will also include free bumper cars at the Alex and Ani City Center and food trucks around Biltmore Park.
Also on Friday, June 8, The Dean Hotel will host “Fountain Street Hooligans,” which will begin with a collaborative dining experience featuring North, and guest chefs who will serve up delicious recipes at a special outdoor table. Take a seat and explore culinary masterpieces as well as how the restaurant environment plays an important role in creative tourism in Rhode Island’s capital city.
On Saturday, June 9, PVDFest will kick off in Kennedy Plaza, which will be transformed into a Food Village. Providence is a “foodie” city with world-class restaurants and food trucks offering unique and ever-expanding options for visitors and residents. This year’s Food Village will host over 60 local establishments that will gather to serve festival attendees at ample seating throughout the Plaza. Several participating restaurants will give “behind the scenes” sneak peaks, including dish preparations, stories behind signature meals and live cooking demonstrations.
Also on Saturday, June 9, festival attendees can grab a bite to eat and make their way over to the first ever Bump n’ Bass Raceway. Featured in national press this past winter, the Alex & Ani City Center’s newest addition to their programing, bumper cars, have become a viral sensation that has attracted visitors from across the region. A portion of Providence’s Dorrance Street will be transformed into a glowing speedway as festival attendees race head-to-head with Providence’s newest attraction. Inspired by the late ‘90s electronic music scene, the area will be immersed in glowing neon tape with a DJ and emcee to keep the crowd rockin’ till the last racer crosses the finish line.
On Friday and Saturday, AUSTRALIA’S SWAY POLES will delight audiences with equal measures of spectacle, disaster and beauty in “Tall Tales from the High Seas.” This fantastic voyage follows the antics of three eccentric mariners as they explore the power of the imagination in a quest for common ground. Expect astonishment as acrobats dip and sway atop incredible sway-pole masts while their vessel “The Fabulist” pitches and rolls above the heads of the crowd. Famous for their beautifully-costumed, choreographed dancers gracefully dipping and bowing above the crowd on elevated poles, this Melbourne-based company has performed at over 600 international festivals in over 55 countries to a total audience of well over 5 million people since their founding in 1994. They last appeared in Providence in 2014, attracting thousands to FirstWorks Urban Carnevale for mesmerizing elevated performances inside color-changing spheres.
On Saturday and Sunday, PVDFest visitors will encounter “Cycle Sonic,” a spectacular art-rock performance on human-powered stages by Pittsburgh-based festival veterans SQUONK OPERA. This pageant of double-decker bike stages is propelled by original chamber rock music and celebrates all things bicycle in a city renowned for its bike-friendly culture. Giant animated bikers circle the audience in front of undulating flags, with 20-foot legs pumping to the rhythm of sustainable power. With no carbon footprint, “Cycle Sonic” combines the thrill of a live concert with the world of everyday transit.
Saturday’s festival stages are bursting with international, national and local artists. FirstWorks brings the outspoken queen of Flamenco fusion, BUIKA (BwEE-kah) from Spain. Fearless in her music and fearless in her life, BUIKA’s sensual, languorous, soulful voice can reach any fiery heart. NPR describes BUIKA as “the voice of freedom,” and her fusion of jazz, flamenco, pop, soul and African polyrhythm has earned her a place on their ‘50 Best Voices of all Times’ list.
Watch what happens when beloved Latin music cultures collide with LADAMA. These four sisters in song create a pan-American harmony that is reflective of their countries of origin – Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and the USA. Named to Pandora’s 2018 “Latin Artists To Watch” list, their punchy percussion and fiery vocals combine to offer a whistle-stop musical tour of their corner of the world, bouncing back and forth between Saõ Paulo, Bogotá and Caracas.
Outstanding players from Wynton Marsalis’ musical empire JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER (JALC) will perform a special Jazz/Civil Rights concert with students from FirstWorks Arts Learning program as the newest installment of their multi-year educational partnership. A stirring concert and Second Line march to the PVDFest parade will cap their artist residency focused on jazz as an instrument of social change.
Don’t miss this year’s festival parade down Washington Street, always a memorable experience for participants and attendees. To sign-up to participate in the parade visit PVDFest.com.
On Sunday, FirstWorks brings Gullah music from the South Carolina coast to the streets of the Creative Capital with RANKY TANKY. The soulful songs of the Gullah culture are brought to life by this band of South Carolinians who mix the low country traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk and R&B. The band, which takes its name from the Gullah phrase for “work it” or “get down,” will also collaborate with a Providence choir for an outstanding musical melding of local and national talent—a signature of the PVDFest experience.
PVDFest will not only inspire festival-goers with world class music and national artists, it also showcases some of Providence’s best local artists. As part of this year’s festival, four temporary art installations have been commissioned to activate public space in the festival footprint. The four local artists were selected through a competitive process, and their work will engage audiences and transform the landscape of Downtown throughout the entire duration of the festival.
Selected artists who will be displaying work during this year’s festival include:
Kristina is a multimedia visual artist and designer who is inspired by salvaged or found materials, historical maps, navigation, philosophical diagrams, geometric concepts and architectural drawings.
May is an interdisciplinary artist based with studio techniques combining hand papermaking, printmaking, sculpture, alternative process photography and book-arts techniques.
Nick Carter and Brandon “KYLE” Green
Nick is an artist, educator and community organizer living and working in Providence whose most recent work is inspired by quilting motifs, natural and artificial camouflage, and urban architecture. KYLE, Nick’s collaborator an artist and archivist, works in vocal performance, sculpture, video, and printmaking.
Sam is a Providence-based artist and an active member of the Nicholson File artist community whose artwork has appeared in illustrated books and newspapers, animated films, on ceramic cups and tiles and painted in murals over the walls of businesses and private homes.
Full bios are available at PVDfest.com.
Saturday, June 9, festival programming includes the return of a festival favorite, the Maker Faire. Presented in collaboration with AS220 and Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, the Maker Faire will feature 30 maker booths and family-fun working stations. The Maker Faire will also include dance and theater performances in the Empire Street performance spaces, large scale video projections, a reprise of the Surveillent window installations, a gallery show along Washington Street featuring the work of founding AS220 Artistic Director Umberto Crenca and a multi-genre Futureworlds AS220 Youth installation featuring fashion shows, a market and other performances in the parking lot of The Dean Hotel.
On both Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10, PVDFest will partner with Rhode Island Day of Portugal to host cultural programming in the Alex and Ani Center Rink. Officially known as “Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas” (Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities), June 10 commemorates the death of the revered Portuguese poet, Luís Vaz de Camões in 1580. Camões is best known for his epic poem, “Os Lusíadas,” which is a tribute to the golden age of Portugal’s maritime exploration. The main event will be on view in the Alex and Ani City Center and culminate with a basin WaterFire on the evening of Sunday, June 10.
“Waste Management, for the third consecutive year, is proud to be a major sponsor of PVDFest” said James Nocella, Area Manager at Waste Management. “We are honored to partner with the City to deliver a first class event that signifies the City’s leadership in a wide array of cultural and community activities. We can’t wait to join the celebration again this year.”
PVDFest is made possible in large part by the generous sponsors who continue to support Providence’s creative culture year-round, including the Providence City Council, the Providence Tourism Council, Waste Management, ProvPort| Waterson Terminal Services and others.
About Program Partners and Curators:
FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, R.I., dedicated to connecting art with audiences. Since 2004, FirstWorks’ signature strengths – sustained partnerships and innovative strategies – have propelled their growth as the only First Night festival in the country to become a year-round arts organization. Their season includes The Artistic Icons Series, The Frontier Series and Arts Learning benefiting over 4,000 low-income students across Rhode Island. The FirstWorks engagement practice is hailed as a “national model” for developing new audiences with world-class artists having connected Rhode Island audiences with new works by Yo-Yo Ma, Urban Bush Women and Paul Taylor Dance Company. FirstWorks is honored to partner with the City of Providence. Since the 2012 FirstWorks Festival on the Plaza, FirstWorks and the Department of Art, Culture, and Tourism have been awarded three prestigious “Our Town” grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at First-Works.org
About Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism
The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (AC+T) ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. The Department envisions a Providence that is a global destination for arts, humanities, and design, where neighbors celebrate diverse cultural and artistic experiences, and where all residents and visitors feel that a relationship to arts practice, making, and culture is a part of their everyday lives.
AS220 is a non-profit community arts organization located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. We are an unjuried, uncensored forum for the arts: a space to access tools, technology and knowledge; a space to come together, collaborate, innovate, experiment and take risks. AS220 offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and perform in our facilities, including: four rotating gallery spaces; a performance stage; a black box theater; a print shop; a darkroom and media arts lab; a fabrication and electronics lab; a dance studio; a youth program focusing on youth under state care and in the Rhode Island juvenile detention facility; 47 affordable live/work studios for artists; and a bar and restaurant. AS220 cultivates a creative community that continues to have a profoundly transformative impact on the city of Providence. We are dedicated to supporting artists and enhancing the cultural opportunities for all the people of Rhode Island.
About The Dean Hotel
Built around the history and culture of Providence, The Dean is a hotel that values collaboration with our neighbors. Filled with custom furniture, craftwork from local purveyors and found objects from Europe and beyond, The Dean revels in the details. This historical building has been elegantly transformed into a 52-room hotel in the heart of Providence’s Downcity district. A place of history, culture, education, arts and design, Providence is a town with a rich and interesting past — and future. Explore the universities, cultural institutions, events, shops, restaurants and galleries that make Providence one of the most hidden, yet intriguing urban destinations in the USA.
About RI Day of Portugal
RI Day of Portugal and Portuguese Heritage in Rhode Island each year aims to celebrate the holiday, Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas (Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities), in the State of Rhode Island. The RI Day of Portugal Committee preserves the traditions of the Portuguese culture for future generations and promotes the contribution of the Portuguese people, language and culture to the rich fabric of Rhode Island.
PVDFest Parade photo: Erin X. Smithers