New Haven International Festival of Arts & Ideas
February 22, 2010
The New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas is a remarkable and transformative organization. It started during a very difficult time in New Haven, and I believe it contributed greatly to the city's recovery and current position as a great environment for both arts and creative ideas.
I have attended the festival every year but one (I was in the hospital in 2007, and could not attend) and each year has been different. There is such a variety of events: dance, music, theatre - even the written word and visual arts are represented. We have enjoyed Jazz, classical and modern dance, Asian puppetry, Shakespeare, Opera, contemporary world theatre, And street performances. We have seen things outdoors and in. There is a whole weekend devoted to children's events on the city green. But the most remarkable thing about the festival is the Unifying Ideas theme for each year. Events of all kinds are selected to tie in with or complement this theme. The year after hurricane Katrina was devoted to New Orleans' artists, solutions to poverty, and other related topics. These themes have brought us everything from quantum physics to food. I thought the food events would be predictable, cooking show presentations, and was not looking forward to much. I should have known better! They talked about global hunger, how farming in the US impacts our environment and our health, the pros and cons of everything from local food movements to fertilizer use. And they fed us wonderful foods, in a festive environment:food for the soul as well as the body and mind.
The festival is always stimulating and mind- expanding, always world-wide in scope, always surprising.
Any flaws? Of course. There are too many things happening at the same time, all of which I want to see; and I can't afford all the events. The calendar/brochure put out by the festival is sometimes hard to follow, and the website is even worse. Both are beautiful, but not always logical and clear.
I can't imagine New Haven, or my summer, without this festival. It has enriched my life and my city enormously. It's a wonderful way to spend two weeks!
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Seeing how it helped my city turn around and made it grow. How it fostered a more creative environment year round. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the many wonderful events during the two weeks of the festival each year!
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
Probably the 'Ideas' events. they bring this festival beyond a series of wonderful performances, and really make it a mind-expanding event.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Wonderful, helpful, fun to work with. There is a real team or family feeling that shows.
Ways to make it better...
I had more time to attend events, and if the festival calendar & website were a bit more focused on clear delivery of information.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
Funding, of course. That is always a challenge, but especially now.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About once a year
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & After many years as a client served of this organization, I have for the past several years also volunteered. I've done surveys of attendees, catalogued videos of past events, ushered at events, and worked in the information booth.