PVDFest Expands for Third Installment of Providence’s Signature Arts Festival

Today, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Founding Partner FirstWorks announced details and schedule highlights of PVDFest set for June 1-4, 2017, with showcase performances on June 3. In this third annual event, art, culture and cuisine transform Providence with over 800 artists, 15 stages, 30 food vendors, 11 local art organizations and more. Building off of Mayor Elorza’s vision, the festival is made possible by the generous support of over 60 sponsors. The City and FirstWorks are collaborating with 13 curators, including AS220, The Dean Hotel, The Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, as well as community partners from throughout Providence, to deliver unforgettable PVDFest programming.

“PVDFest has grown so much since the first installation,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This year’s festival builds upon the momentum and energy of the past years while incorporating even more of what makes Providence the Creative Capital. From the new ‘ideas’ conference, to the off-the-wall programming in the plaza, PVDFest has something for artists of all mediums. Visitors and residents are sure to be amazed by the talent and creativity this year’s festival will offer.”

Saturday, June 3rd, will showcase an incredible mix of local, national and international acts—from Woonsocket to Westerly and with artists from Trinidad, Honduras, Venezuela, Miami, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Montreal.

“PVDFest kicks off in an entirely new way – drawing thought pioneers to Providence and signaling the start of new conversations,” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. “The premiere of BANDALOOP’s ‘#PVDPublicCanvas’ brings aerial dance artistry together with spoken word for two spectacular evenings, unveiling one of the most significant “first works” PVDFest has seen to date!  The pulsing energy of downtown festivities is capped by a Sunday celebration of the vibrant diversity of Providence and the rich cultures of the neighborhoods nearby. This is a wildly inventive festival for our amazing audiences who are eager to discover, experience, have fun, and celebrate The Creative Capital.”

PVDFest: Day 1

The four days of expanded programming will each host a different celebration each day creating a unique PVDFest experience for every attendee. Thursday, June 1 will kick off with a new conference component, Making a Lively Experiment, in which leading thinkers from Providence and beyond will explore the culture of making and generate ideas about what’s next for the maker movement. Dorothy Jones-Davis, co-founder and co-producer of the National Maker Faire, will deliver a keynote on ways to create connections between a diversity of makers, leveraging their collective skills to harness solutions for the world’s challenges – grand and small. Although DESIGNxRI will welcome conference attendees to meet and mingle the night before, the conference officially starts at 8:30AM on June 1 at Aurora (276 Westminster Street); full schedule of events and tickets are available now.

Conference attendees and local residents are invited to walk over to the Community Table presented by Community Flavors and Sowing Place partners. Inspired in part by the year-long A La Rhody collaboration of food programming, guests will sit together at a 320-foot table for dinner along Washington Street in Kennedy Plaza. Rhode Island Black Storytellers’ director Valerie Tutson will lead those attending on a journey through cuisine, with dinner provided by The Genesis Center. Tickets are on sale now.

Thursday ends with a free nighttime dance party at The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave, Providence, an anchor neighborhood cultural institution in the Valley neighborhood. DJ Unkle Thirsty will get you dancing under the evening light in this vibrant industrial arts center.

“We are thrilled to be a part of PVDFest again and showcase the brilliant ingenuity of so many artists and makers. Not only is the Steel Yard’s mobile Blacksmithing trailer returning as part of the RI Mini-Maker Faire, but this year we will bring festival goers to the Yard for the post-conference dance party,” said Howie Sneider, Executive Director of the Steel Yard. “Huge thanks to the Mayor, the City of Providence and Sponsors for being such great cultural partners!”

PVDFest: Day 2

The party continues on Friday, June 2 with a night full of cultural programming:

  • 5PM-10PM Stop by The Dean Hotel parking lot for the Quarter Moon Market & Super Soul Dance Party hosted by The Dean Hotel and AS220. The Quarter Moon Market is a collaborative retail party featuring over 25 Rhode Island-based makers, creators, and idea-men and women. Local DJ’s will keep energy pulsing through the lot while visitors assemble for a night market experience. AS220’s vendor picks will highlight youth and ingenuity while The Dean’s roster will center on creative activation of the objects or services typically seen in marketplaces. Faust, Bolt Coffee Co., Knead Donuts and Tricycle Ice Cream will be on hand with food, libations and treats for all attendees.
  • 5PM Down the street in Biltmore Park, The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island will share a Sabbath Dinner with the community at large. Drawing on Shabbat’s origin as a day of rest as told in the Torah’s story of creation, the communal Shabbat celebration will be an all-inclusive Jewish experience, revolving around culture, ritual, family and community. Space at the table will be available on a first come, first served basis.
  • 5PM Don’t miss the Ivy League Rumba film screening and panel discussion at Aurora. The film, which includes Providence performances by some of the top artists in Latin music today, explores how an emerging cultural bridge between Providence, Miami and the Caribbean is making Afro-Cuban rhythms and beats available to new audiences.
  • 7PM Keep that Latin music melody going by moving over to the ALEX AND ANI Center Stage for a performance by Salsa y Gaitas followed by a show-stopping, hip-moving performance by Miami’s Grammy and Latin Grammy-Award nominees PALO! presenting a concert of their signature Afro-Cuban funk at 8:30PM.
  • 8PM Witness a high-flying performance as the astonishing vertical dance company BANDALOOP scales the facade of 10 Dorrance Street at the Spectacle Stage for the world premiere of #PVDPublicCanvas, created in collaboration with local spoken word artist extraordinaire, Christopher Johnson.

PVDFest: Day 3

Save some energy for Saturday, June 3, the showcase day when Downtown Providence turns into a stage, a canvas and a celebration of the Creative Capital, including:

  • 12PM-8PM Shop handmade gifts at the PVDFest Marketplace, powered by Craftland running along Westminster Street (from Dorrance to Matthewson). Starting at noon the street will be filled with original artwork for sale by over 50 artistic vendors.
  • 12PM-4PM Bike Fest 2017 will take over the Mathewson Street Stage with a family-friendly celebration in honor of the local biking community. Bike Fest is an opportunity to teach, learn, acknowledge, support and encourage all things bike related.
  • 12PM-8PM Stop by Burnside Park to experience the Family Fun at Burnside Park, with Ricky Rainbow Beard, RI Instrument Petting Zoo, and performances by Girls Rock Ladies Camp — a great stop for the family all day long!
  • 12PM right on Washington Street Liberian Afropop/HipHop artist Skylett White performs material from her EP Poor Geh Trying To Get Rich.
  • 1PM Kids are invited to bring their parents to check out Keith Munslow at Grant’s Block for fun, funky music with silly lyrics that will have kids and grown-ups alike tapping their toes and singing along!
  • 2PM Doppelgänger Dance Collective performs The Trail We Left Behind at The People’s Stage at City Hall.
  • 2PM-8PM Also on Washington Street is the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire, presented by Johnson & Wales University. Make sure to stop by this gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. It’s the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth!
  • 3:30PM Have your own talent you want to share? Stop by Artist on the Rise at the People’s Stage at City Hall and again at 9:30PM on the Coastway Stage, where SUMMER88 will be providing platforms for rising stars to express themselves and be heard!
  • 3:30PM Join Eastern Medicine Singers, Algonquin drum group dedicated to keeping the eastern woodlands American Indian culture alive at the FirstWorks Plaza Stage.
  • 3:30PM A world of music comes to the ALEX AND ANI City Center Stage, kicking off with Boston’s Kalifa and Koliba blending West African rhythms with high life, reggae, ska, zouk, and funk beats to get your feet moving.
  • 4PM The parade is here! Everyone’s favorite part of PVDFest kicks off at 4PM down Washington Street. There is still time to sign up for the parade and be a part of the celebration.
  • 4:30PM The parade culminates at the FirstWorks Plaza Stage in Kennedy Plaza with a BIG NAZO Intergalactic Creature Dance Party, where mutant musicians, alien go-go dancers, and rowdy robots will combine stand-up comedy, sci-fi, dancing, daredevil stunts, soap opera hysterics, and professional wrestling with live rock and funk music.
  • 5PM The world music party continues at the ALEX AND ANI City Center Stage  with singer-songwriter, guitarist and percussionist Aurelio Martinez, one of the great musical artists of Latin America and musical ambassador of Honduras’ traditional Garifuna culture.
  • Keep an eye out for Bring Your Own Improv as they roam the footprint with an interactive improv show that welcomes voluntary audience participation!
  • 5PM, 7PM, 11PM Hang out with Joe Wilson, Jr. from Trinity Repertory Company who will be hosting the Dark Lady’s Transformations at one of their 3 performances throughout the night.
  • 6PM Doppelgänger Dance Collective performs The Trail We Left Behind. The People’s Stage at City Hall
  • 6:30PM The celebration continues at the FirstWorks Plaza Stage with Los Angeles-based Las Cafeteras, one of the hottest young bands in alternative Latin music.
  • 6:30PM The Funk Underground will rock the Coastway Stage. This six-piece, live, instrumentalist band comprised of two emcees, an electric guitarist, an electric bassist, keyboardist and drummer. Don’t miss their collaboration with the Rhode Island Hip Hop Project as they deliver a documentary on Rhode Island Hip Hop history before their performance.
  • 7PM The sultry, Montreal-based soulstress and beast belter Betty Bonifassi takes the ALEX AND ANI Center Stage with her signature contralto vocals that mix modern electronics with early Delta roots music.
  • 7:30PM Live at the The People’s Stage at City Hall check out Case Closed!, a hip-hop dance and theater collaboration that works to empower youth through the arts.
  • 8PM, 10PM Don’t miss the off-the-wall and out of this world programming from Oakland’s BANDALOOP, vertical dance pioneers who turn the dance floor on its side. Be on the lookout (look up!) at the Spectacle Stage (10 Dorrance Street) throughout the week for sneak peeks of their #PVDPublicCanvas performance!
  • 8:30PM Rhode Island’s favorite hometown rapper Chachi Carvalho joins forces with master of rhythm Sidy Maiga for a very special performance as International Rebels. Combining Carvalho’s poignant lyricism and positive hip-hop vibes with Maiga’s West African polyrhythms, the PVDFest veterans bring along a 16-piece band featuring multiple vocalists and a DJ.
  • 8:30PM Multi-instrumentalist Gonzalo Grau and The Guyaba Latin Combo bring a salsa beat to the ALEX AND ANI Center Stage
  • 10:30PM Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles and his band take the final slot on the ALEX AND ANI Center Stage with a Creole Soul Carnival dance party to keep the audience lively late into the night.
  • 10:30PM Closing out the biggest evening of PVDFest at the FirstWorks Plaza Stage is soul diva Bettye LaVette, dubbed “the High Priestess of R&B” by The Huffington Post, with a career spanning more than 50 years.

Public art installations animate the festival footprint throughout the day. Keep an eye out for:

  • A dozen temporary public projects that have been commissioned for the festival. Ranging from macrame to sculpture to installations, festival goers will find these projects throughout the festival footprint.
  • Dusk, in the theme of create, participate, and celebrate, Rhode Island School of Design, AGB Events and the City of Providence joined forces for a light installation at PVDFest. Conceived through a RISD Film, Animation and Video class taught in conjunction with AGB Events, the two to three-minute student work will be projected onto the Mercantile Block at 115 Empire Street.
  • Check out Octopus Song, a new public art mural by Sam White on the southern facade of The Dean Hotel.
  • The Avenue Concept’s project by Andrew Hem (116 Orange Street). PVDFest audiences are encouraged to make their first trip to this new work sponsored by The Avenue Concept during the festival weekend.

PVDFest: Day 4

On Sunday, June 4 the festival moves out of the downtown and into the neighborhoods for “Armory Animated by Art” and PVDFest finale events at the Cranston Street Armory on Providence’s West Side.

  • Starting at 1PM on Sunday, RISD Museum’s fleet of Armory-themed box truck art installations open their doors along Hollywood Road. Providence artists will create immersive art experiences in five repurposed box trucks, each skinned to exaggerate and highlight the iconic architectural features of the Cranston Street Armory.
  • 1PM-5:30PM Limited tours of the Cranston Street Armory in Spanish and English.
  • 3PM-5:30PM Later in the afternoon, Haitian born, Harlem-based composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) returns to PVDFest for a massive musical spectacle. He will lead En Masse, a large-scale composition created for up to 500 musicians that is entirely different each time the performance takes place. The performance will include local student ensembles and music groups, the What Cheer? Brigade, Becky Bass, the Extraordinary Rendition Band, and spoken word artist Christopher Johnson.
  • 3PM Visual artist Paul Cote will create a live painting performance synchronized to the musical spectacle of En Masse.
  • 6PM Community MusicWorks students, alumni, and faculty will join Boston-based composer Gonzalo Grau and his salsa band La Clave Secreta, violinist Johnny Gandelsman and other special guests, for a 20th anniversary season reprise of Fantasia con Guyaba Habanera.

A full line-up and list of community events are available at www.PVDFest.com. To receive the latest updates about PVDFest, visit pvdfest.com, follow @PVDFest on Twitter, and like us at facebook.com/pvdfestival/

Community Partners: ALEX AND ANI, Providence Tourism Council, Waste Management, Sprint, The Avenue Concept

Leading Partners: Prov Port/Waterson Terminals, Coast 93.3 /I Heart Media, Providence Journal, The White Family Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts/National Dance Project

Program Partners: Coastway Community Bank, Cornish Associates, Cox Communications, Delta Dental, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island School of Design, Citizens Bank

Gold Partners: AAA Northeast, Adler Pollock & Sheehan, Bank of America, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Brown University, Darrow Everett, Dimeo Construction Company, Fidelity Investments, Hampton Inn, IGT, Providence Responsible Nightclub Owners, Roberts Carroll Feldstein & Peirce, Scott VW, RISCA, Dunkin’ Donuts, National Grid, Whaler’s Brewing Co.

Silver Partners: Capital Properties, Customers Bank, Foundry Promenade, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, Providence Foundation & Downtown Improvement District, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Zipcar

Bronze Partners: Bliss Properties, Capstone Properties, Down City Parking, Webster Bank, Regency Plaza, The Coca Cola Company

Media Partners: Go Providence, Acontecer Latino, Providence Monthly, NBC10, Rhode Island Monthly, Gravity Lab, Get Magazine, American News en Español, Latina 100.3, Nuevos Horizontes, Poder

Opening Night VIP Party Sponsors: Roger Williams University, BETA Group, Inc., Restivo Monacelli

About Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism – FESTIVAL PRODUCER

Established in 2003, 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. Visit http://providenceri.com/ArtCultureTourism.


FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island dedicated to building the vitality of its community through world-class performing arts and education programs. Founded in 2004 as a reincarnation of First Night festival, it is the only First Night in the U.S. to successfully transform into a year-round arts organization. Central to its mission is a powerful, accessible, and equitable arts-integrated learning program benefiting over 4,000 low-income students. The FirstWorks engagement model has connected Rhode Island audiences with world-premieres developed in Providence from artistic icons such as Yo-Yo Ma, Urban Bush Women, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. FirstWorks is honored to have a continuing partnership with the City of Providence working as a catalyst for the arts in the Creative Capital. Beginning with the FirstWorks Festival on the Plaza in 2012, initiatives in partnership with Providence’s 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


AS220 is an artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. AS220 offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and/or perform in its facilities, which include several 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 juvenile detention facilities, four dozen affordable live/work studios for artists, and a bar and restaurant. AS220’s facilities and services are available to any artist who needs a place to exhibit, perform, or create original work and its classes and public-access studios are among the most affordable in the nation. AS220 was founded on the principle that freedom of expression is crucial for the development of strong communities and individual spirits. Each year, AS220 serves over 1,000 artists and is destination for upwards of 93,000 people.


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 The Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy –  FESTIVAL COMMUNITY CURATOR

The Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC), a program of the Providence Foundation, is a public-private partnership formed in 2008 to preserve and revitalize Providence’s historic downtown core by transforming it into a lively, cohesive, and prosperous economic and cultural center through the development and management of exceptional public spaces. As part of its mission, DPPC manages and creates free public arts, cultural, educational, and recreational programs to engage and build a diverse downtown community within the parks. The DPPC vision includes the creation of a pedestrian-friendly environment, improving the RIPTA ridership experience, bolstering economic well-being, encouraging tourism, and promoting arts and culture. Public programming in Greater Kennedy Plaza transforms the public spaces with concerts, festivals, and family programing.

About Maker Faire

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

For press credentials or high resolution photos, please contact Emily Crowell at ecrowell@providenceri.gov.