PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Brett P. Smiley and Director of Art, Culture, Tourism Joe Wilson Jr., PVDFest Producing Partner and FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher, City Council President Rachel Miller, PVDFest partners, artists, and sponsors today gathered in celebration ahead of the City’s ninth annual PVDFest, happening this weekend, September 8-10, at the 195 District Park in Providence.
“We have worked hard to cultivate an exciting three-day riverside celebration of our local artists and artisans that exemplifies everything that makes Providence the Creative Capital,” said Mayor Brett P. Smiley. “Each year, this festival reaffirms Providence reputation as a global arts, food, and culture destination. This year will continue that tradition, offering a unique experience to every festival goer.”
PVDFest attendees can find the weekend’s schedule and map, transportation, and accessibility information, a curated Spotify playlist previewing some of this year’s performers, and other details on the PVDFest website. In addition to this year’s programming, tickets are available to the PVDFest Opening Night Party, held at the CIC building on Friday, September 8 from 7PM to 9PM. As the signature fundraising event for PVDFest, the Opening Night Party helps ensure the festival’s sustainability. Headliner-level ticketholders will receive a limited edition 2023 PVDFest Commemorative Poster, created by local artist, PVDFest curator, and Haus of Codec Executive Director Julio Berroa.
For maximum comfort, PVDFest attendees are welcome to bring a chair or blanket, sunscreen, and a water bottle to enjoy a full day of festivities.
Attendees traveling to Providence should be advised that drivers on Route I-95 can expect delays due to lane closures near exit 33. Drivers should plan extra time for travel, and use alternate routes such as Route 10 and I-295.
“The lineup of fun at this weekend’s PVD Fest is simply unbeatable, and I look forward to celebrating Providence for all of its strengths,” said City Council President Rachel Miller. “I am excited to welcome residents from around the city and visitors to take in performances and dine on some culinary delights. Thank you to our generous sponsors and volunteers who have made the festival possible for eight years running. A special thanks to our folks in the Arts, Cultural, and Tourism Department for their dedicated work!”
“FirstWorks is thrilled to kick-off PVDFest 2023! We gather with artists, partners, and attendees to celebrate new vistas in our beloved Creative Capital. We are ready to experience the joy and inspiration of music, art, food and the abounding creativity of Providence,” said FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director and PVDFest Founding Partner, Kathleen Pletcher. “What began as an idea has grown into a tradition that is always innovating to showcase our city in new ways. We’re honored by the artists who have been partners in growing PVDFest since the very beginning, dazzling people from near and far with their extraordinary artistry.”
This year’s festival will feature artisan markets and performances that honor the Native American history of Providence and the 195 District Park land. Lynsea Montanari, the Indigenous Empowerment Coordinator for the Tomaquag Museum, opened the press conference with a moving land acknowledgement. “Providence is the homeland of the Narragansett people,” said Lynsea Montanari. “We still live here today, yet we often go unseen. Erased from the narrative. I am grateful to PVDFest for using their platform to amplify my voice, allowing me to be a reminder of our existence. We are still here!” Montanari will also lead a land acknowledgment on the main stage of PVDFest on Saturday.
Today’s press conference also featured a performance by local Salsa artist, EhShawnee, who is returning to PVDFest as a headliner on Friday night for the second year. “Being part of PVD Fest is an incredible honor. Our salsa band is excited to contribute to the festival’s mission of showcasing local talent and fostering a sense of unity,” said EhShawnee, a beloved salsa musician performing on Friday evening. “Through our performance, we aim to reflect the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Let the rhythm of salsa unite us and make history in the city of Providence.”
Additional main stage headliners include Chachi Carvalho on Friday night, Flawless and Mavis Staples on Saturday night, and the Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival, curated by Providence-based djembefola Sidy Maiga, on Sunday afternoon.
“We couldn’t be more honored and delighted to be partnering with Mayor Smiley and the City of Providence during this year’s PVD Fest,” said Nancy Gaucher-Thomas, co-chair of the Bannister Community Art Project. “The Bannister Community Art Project, a community focused project, will be leading the parade on Sunday, September 10th from the Van Leesten bridge. We are hoping folks young and old will join us as we sing, dance, and celebrate our colorful city of Providence.”
In addition to the festival’s incredible celebration of visual and performing artists, festival attendees will also enjoy a wide variety of culinary offerings. “Providence boasts a vibrant food truck scene that shines brightly,” said Eric Weiner of Food Trucks In. “You can reliably find local food trucks in downtown, on Broad St. at the Pedestrian Bridge, and at popular events like the Providence Flea and Food Truck Friday. PVD Food Truck Events is excited to unite many of these food trucks for a weekend of support during PVDFest at Food Truck Village. There’s guaranteed to be something for everyone to savor throughout the entire weekend.”
“The Providence Department of Art, Culture and Tourism could not be more proud to once again present PVDFest to the people of this great city,” said ACT Director Joe Wilson Jr. “Producing this festival takes a village, and we are grateful to FirstWorks and all of our partners and sponsors for helping to make this ninth festival a reality. We are all thrilled that this year’s festival will showcase hundreds of local performing artists, artisans, and food vendors. We are also so excited to partner with WaterFire, to celebrate the life and legacy of a groundbreaking local African American artist, and to welcome home Rhode Island’s own rap and hip-hop phenomenon Flawless to perform in his beloved city. Finally, and on a more personal note, I look forward to witnessing a living legend grace Providence with her presence and performance on Saturday night. We will welcome with open arms the civil rights icon, Kennedy Center honoree and Rock and Roll/Gospel Hall of Famer Mavis Staples! Hope to see you all down by the riverside for and extraordinary weekend of celebration and joy.”
PVDFest is made possible in large part by the generous sponsors who continue to support Providence’s creative culture year-round, including Providence Tourism Council, RI Commerce, The Boston Globe Rhode Island, Waste Management, Breeze, ProvPort, Waterson Terminal Services LLC, WPRI, iHeart Media, Brown University, Delta Dental, Dimeo Construction Company, Dunkin’, Rhode Island Energy, RISD, Surv, Amica, Fidelity Investments, Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, Conduent, Cornish Associates, Evolis, First Bristol Corporation/Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, Johnson & Wales University, BankNewport, The Foundry, PLDO Strategies, Withum, Verizon, Wexford Science & Technology, AARP Rhode Island, America News, Bird Rides, Half Street Group, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Providence Monthly, The Public’s Radio, Regency Plaza/Chestnut Hill Realty, Rhode Island Monthly, RIPTA, and Santander. In addition to sponsors, PVDFest relies on the contributions of the hard-working volunteers to make the event a memorable experience for everyone. If you can volunteer for a few hours or a whole day, please sign up here.
Mayor Brett P. Smiley, the City’s Arts, Culture, Tourism, and Producing Partner FirstWorks will once again host PVDFest, Providence’s signature outdoor arts festival, September 8-10. This year’s festival will bring people from both sides of the Providence River to celebrate what has repeatedly garnered Providence its reputation as the Creative Capital— our artists. We will host three days of musical performances, public art, good eats and curated spectacles on the waterfront and together build community around the things that make our city unique.