Yale Bulletin and Calendar
News Stories

June 24 - July 22, 1996
Volume 24, Number 33
News Stories


Over 50,000 people are expected to visit New Haven during the last week in June to enjoy five days of music, dance, theater, crafts, puppetry, readings, talks, instruction and other arts-related events. And that's just the beginning, say organizers of the Elm City's premier "International Festival of Arts and Ideas," which will take place Wednesday-Sunday, June 26-30, at locations throughout the city.

The event, which will utilize both outdoor and indoor spaces within walking distance of each other, is the first of what planners hope will become an annual, three-week summer festival drawing thousands from around the world to New Haven to celebrate the arts.

Designed in the tradition of the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas will feature visual displays and a continuous roster of local, regional and world-class performers. This year over 300 artists from more than a dozen countries are expected. Among those slated to participate are jazz musicians Ellis and Branford Marsalis, "salsa master" Ruben Blades, the a capella South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Native American folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie. The festival also will showcase area museums, theaters, orchestras, architecture, and regional colleges and universities -- including Yale. Although there is a fee for some performances, the vast majority of activities will be presented free of charge.

Coming on the heels of last summer's New Haven-hosted Special Olympics World Games, the International Festival helps further establish the city as a locus of cultural, arts and educational resources, says Anne Calabresi, who conceived the event. She is one of three Yale affiliates -- along with President Richard C. Levin and University Secretary and Vice President Linda K. Lorimer -- on the festival's board of directors. Board President Jean Handley -- who also is a board member of LEAP Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership Program , which Ms. Calabresi founded -- worked with Ms. Calabresi early-on developing the concept for the festival.

"Our idea is to get corporate sponsors from around the state, around the nation, and around the world to think that this is a great showcase for them, showing that they support the community, that they support cities," says Ms. Calabresi, the wife of Sterling Professor of Law and former Law School dean, Judge Guido Calabresi, in an article published in the June edition of New Haven Arts. She notes that "sponsors can get multiple benefits from sponsoring this. It is a revitalization of the city and an economic revitalization as well as supporting the arts per se." Ms. Calabresi adds that to help draw sponsors, a primary goal of this first festival was to include "theatrical troupes from abroad [and] major performers on the Green that represent the roots and the best of everything in our culture."

Event consists of 'sub-festivals'

The International Festival of Arts and Ideas was designed as an amalgamation of several sub-festivals. Among them is "Art on the Edge," the local component of the festival, which is considered a hallmark of the event. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Art on the Edge will be held in the heart of the city's arts district, on Audubon Street. The four major arts institutions there -- Artspace, the Creative Arts Workshop, the Educational Center for the Arts and the Neighborhood Music School -- will function as anchors and provide continuous festival entertainment.

Presenting an array of artists from throughout Connecticut, Art on the Edge will feature exhibitions, dance, musical and theatrical performances, poetry and storytelling, film, a juried craft show, demonstrations and interactive art. The events are designed to appeal to people of all ages, and participants will have a chance to try out instruments, express an original idea, learn new dances, play with paint and clay, and purchase handmade crafts.

Other "sub-festivals" being offered as part of the International Festival are:

The Festival of World Theater, featuring international circus and theatrical ensembles;

The Festival of World Music, which will include performances by international, national and regional musicians in various locations including theaters, the New Haven Green, and the Yale Law School courtyard;

The Festival of Ideas, which will feature readings and discussions by world-renowned writers, poets and other artists, and will provide an opportunity, via public conversations, for festival- goers to meet and discourse with festival participants; The Festival Under the Trees: A Place for Kids, featuring two stages on the Upper Green for children and their families: The Small Green Stage, offering music, puppets, drumming and dance, and The Story Tree stage, on which storytellers from around the world will be presented; and

The Youth Arts Summit -- involving young people from urban areas -- which organizers describe as "an unprecedented gathering of teenage artists and arts educators from around the nation." The summit will serve as an opportunity for participating artists to "discuss their work, share ideas and inspire audiences to look to the future."

New Haven's architectural layout makes it uniquely suited as a festival site, Ms. Calabresi says. "We've got an extraordinary Green, in the classic urban sense of the central marketplace that all European cities have. That's what allows them to have these cultural city events. We're one of the few New England cities that has it. And then we have Yale wrapped around the Green." A survey of a million arts- appreciating homes within a two-hour drive from the city revealed a high level of enthusiasm for a multi-faceted arts event.

Yale has contributed $100,000 to the festival and is presenting festival events at its museums, concert halls, and other visual and performing arts facilities. President Levin, an honorary cochair of the festival, said at a recent press conference that the University "should embrace this marvelous community venture with enthusiasm, for Yale has long helped to make New Haven a vital center for the arts. ... The International Festival, the brain-child of Anne Calabresi and Jean Handley, will serve to highlight for the entire world the vast artistic and cultural resources of New Haven." He added that "Yale is looking forward to hosting performances in our courtyards, to engaging our faculty in teaching during the festival, and to opening our facilities, not only to the many visitors we hope to attract to New Haven, but also to the citizens of our neighborhoods whom we hope will be attracted as well."

Activities on the Yale campus

Among the free festival events being offered on the Yale campus are a concert by carillonneur Geert D'hollander Belgium on Friday, 7-7:30 p.m. on the Old Campus; a conversation with festival artist Andrew Forge on his retrospective exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St., on Saturday, noon-1 p.m.; a chamber music performance on Saturday, 1-2 p.m. at the Yale Center for British Art; a spoken word performance of "Tristan and Iseult" Saturday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Yale Art Gallery sculpture garden, 1111 Chapel St.; a tour of the Asian art exhibition Sunday, 2:15-3:15 p.m. at the Yale Art Gallery; a spoken word performance of "Branwen" from the Welsh epic "The Mabinogion" Sunday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Yale Art Gallery sculpture garden; and walking tours of the Yale campus, beginning from the Yale Visitors Center, 149 Elm St., 11 a.m.-noon and 2-3 p.m. each day of the festival.

Other Yale events, for which there is a fee, include a Wednesday New Haven Ravens game at 7 p.m. on Yale Field with Mili Bermejo singing the National Anthem; and Friday "Concert Under the Stars" tandem performances by the Shanghai Quartet and Stars of the Chinese Opera, 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Law School courtyard. In addition, the Association of Yale Alumni is offering several Master Class series, conducted by Yale teaching staff. Each series will focus on a specific aspect of the arts, including drama, drawing, architecture, color theory and writing. The faculty for these classes have completed their screening of applicants and all places currently are filled.

Yale provides housing for artists

Along with providing financial and administrative support, artistic talent and performance venues for the festival, Yale also is extending housing facilities to about 150 out-of-town festival participants, who will reside at Berkeley College during their visit. Yale will house all of the festival's production staff and members of the Paris-based circus theater act Cirque Baroque -- which makes its American debut at the festival; Vermont's Bread and Puppet Theater; and the theater company Great Small Works. Also staying at Berkeley College will be street performers from around the world and various artists performing on the children's Small Green Stage, as well as teenage artists and arts educators who are part of the Youth Arts Summit. The intent is to create "the ambience of an artists' village" within the residential college, says Julia Carnahan, associate producer of the festival. She adds that the University is "heavily subsidizing" the on-campus housing it is providing.

"We are truly grateful that Yale is allowing us to use Berkeley College" to house festival participants, says Ms. Carnahan. "This contribution by Yale to the festival is so providential because it really is a good way to introduce people to New Haven. So often people think of Yale when they think of the city of New Haven."

Yale's contribution to the festival also includes the scores of University affiliates who are among the hundreds of area residents volunteering their time to help make the event a success.

"We need a total of about 1,500 volunteers," says Sheila Pastor, volunteer director for the festival, who extols the level of commitment and enthusiasm of Yale volunteers. "We have broad volunteer opportunities," she says. For example, "we would like to place greeters on street corners and in parking garages to welcome the thousands of people visiting the city and pass out literature about the festival and New Haven. We also need volunteers to help with hospitality and food for visiting artists. People are needed to help with production, ushering and office duties, and we'll also need volunteers to participate in Bread and Puppet Theater performances," she says.

In addition to displaying the city to visitors and encouraging corporate investment, the festival also will encourage interaction and foster local pride among Greater New Haven residents, states Ms. Calabresi in the New Haven Arts article. "[F]rom an anthropological point of view festivals are the historic way of getting people together and giving them a sense of pride and identity in their community," she notes.

"We need to develop vehicles so that people can stand next to each other, see each other, communicate with each other, so that they can develop some understanding," Ms. Calabresi continues. "Arts are the great universal language, so I have great hopes for this. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what this is going to become."

Those interested in volunteering to assist with the festival it still isn't too late, says Ms. Pastor should call 771-5092. For other festival information, call toll-free 1-888-ART-IDEA 1-888-278- 4332.

-- By Felicia Hunter

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