WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In these divisive times, a new city-wide festival that is both timely and necessary will bring people together around the themes of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The first annual By the People Festival, June 21-24, will feature performances, original art installations, conversations among speakers from different sides of current issues and an augmented reality art hunt – all with the goal of connecting people from diverse backgrounds, building bridges across the cultural divide and promoting open and civil discourse. The festival is organized by the nonprofit incubator Halcyon in association with the Smithsonian, Destination DC, ARTECHOUSE and other D.C.-based organizations (see below). Most activities are free; a few ticketed events have modest fees.
Festival activities will take place at the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building (900 Jefferson Drive SW) and other participating Smithsonian museums, Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW), Union Market (1309 5th St. NE), THEARC West (1801 Mississippi Ave. SE) and The Parks at Walter Reed (1010 Butternut St. NW), among other venues. A full schedule is available at bythepeople.org.
"Austin has South by Southwest and Aspen has its Ideas Festival," said Halcyon CEO Kate Goodall. "It's time for Washington, D.C., to have its own destination festival – one that is open and accessible to all, that reinforces this country's founding principles and builds on its longstanding commitment to civil discourse. I can't think of a better way to bring people from different backgrounds together than through dialogue and art, or a better time to launch By the People than during the summer solstice."
"By the People arrives at the perfect moment," said Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton. "I believe robust engagement and debate drive the progress and dynamism that defines America. My hope is that By the People will not only inspire empathy and respect that are necessary to bridge divides in our nation, but will reverberate well beyond the nation's capital and long after the festival's conclusion."
"As we focus on marketing the District to attract more travelers, the By the People Festival will be an incredible addition that helps highlight D.C.'s rich cultural and artistic community," said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, Destination DC. "We're excited to have such an imaginative only-in-D.C. event for both visitors and locals to experience the arts in a new way, both on the National Mall and throughout our neighborhoods."
The Smithsonian's landmark Arts and Industries Building (A&I) will serve as the festival's headquarters and central hub. The second oldest Smithsonian on the National Mall, A&I was home to the nation's first national museum. After being shuttered for more than a decade, it is currently being developed as a laboratory for the exploration of big questions about the future and a vehicle for inspiring Americans about the impact of creativity and innovation on society.
In keeping with A&I's mission, the building will feature art installations exploring the future of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as pop-up performances, discussions and hands-on activities. Featured artists include:
- Maya Freelon, an award-winning artist based in Baltimore who creates breathtaking installations using tissue paper. She was described by the late poet Maya Angelou as "visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being."
- Jenny E. Sabin, an architectural designer whose work is at the forefront of a new direction for 21st-century architectural practice — one that investigates the intersections of architecture and science, and applies insights and theories from biology and mathematics to the design of material structures.
- Dan Steinhilber, a contemporary American artist who is best known for his large-scale sculptures and installations made from found objects. Repurposing chain-link fencing, household appliances, stuffed marlins and other discarded items, Steinhilber creates poetic meaning from the banal.
In conjunction with the festival and in celebration of the summer solstice, participating Smithsonian museums will be open extended evening hours on Friday or Saturday, June 22 or 23, and will feature special activities.
Art activities, performances and discussions will take place in all four quadrants of the District. Events include:
- Large-scale art installations curated by Halcyon Director of Visual Arts Virginia Shore at each of the five main sites.
- An augmented reality art hunt, powered by ARTECHOUSE and similar to Pokemon Go, in which the public uses their mobile devices to search for virtual artworks throughout the city that relate to the themes of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Halcyon and ARTECHOUSE invite artists around the world to create and submit digital works of art for consideration at bythepeople.org.
- A stunning new production of Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins," a ballet chanté (ballet with song), directed and choreographed by Halcyon Director of Performing Arts Septime Webre and featuring Wolf Trap Opera and dancers from the Hong Kong Ballet, at Dock 5 in Union Market.
- A new ballet by renowned choreographer Trey McIntyre performed by BalletX, Philadelphia's premier contemporary ballet company known for challenging the boundaries of classical ballet, at Dock 5 in Union Market.
- Bridgman Packer Dance, acclaimed for their innovative integration of choreography and video technology that explode into a magically populated stage where image and reality collide.
- An interactive safe space in which strangers will be invited to discuss a timely topic relating to the festival themes.
- A series of conversations on the festival themes that will connect the nation's founding principles to current events.
Halcyon is a nonprofit organization that provides resources, information and connections to emerging creatives – socially engaged artists and social entrepreneurs working to use their vision and talent to address the world's greatest challenges. Signature programs include Halcyon Incubator, Halcyon Arts Lab, Halcyon Dialogue and the By the People festival. In only three years, Halcyon's 55 social entrepreneurs have created 350 jobs, raised more than $23 million and impacted nearly half a million lives around the world. Founded by Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Kate Goodall, Halcyon is based out of the historic Halcyon estate and nearby Halcyon Arts Lab in Georgetown. halcyonhouse.org
Partners (as of Feb. 5) include: 11th Street Bridge Park; Agora Culture; Anacostia Arts Center; ARTECHOUSE; Blind Whino; Bolamarge; BrandLinkDC; Brightest Young Things; Corcoran School of Art, George Washington University; CulturalDC; DC Department of Economic Planning and Development; DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment; Destination DC; EDENS; Events DC: Federal City Council; Hong Kong Ballet; Kaze Design; numberF; The Parks at Walter Reed; Pink Line Project; The Phillips Collection; Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington; S&R Foundation; Smithsonian museums (Anacostia Community Museum; Freer and Sackler Galleries; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; National Museum of African American History and Culture; National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History; National Museum of the American Indian; National Portrait Gallery; National Zoological Park; Smithsonian American Art Museum; and Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building); Smithsonian Latino Center; .STABLE.; Swatchroom; THEARC; theatreWashington; Union Market; Washington National Cathedral; Washington Performing Arts; Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts; and YOA Youth Orchestra of the Americas.
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