| May 5, 2011 |
The Festival of Ideas for the New City kicks off this week
Boh staff
By Staff

Taking place today through May 8 in locations around downtown Manhattan, artists, writers, architects, engineers, designers, urban farmers, planners, and thought leaders are exchanging ideas, proposing solutions, and inviting the public to participate. Universities, arts institutions and community groups are collaborating on Festival of Ideas for the New City with the goal of harnessing the power of the creative community to imagine the future city.

Among the questions to be addressed through Festival programs are: What makes the city worth living in? How can we encourage and preserve the positive qualities of the city? How can technology be used to improve city life? Are there places or elements of the city that can be repurposed and re-imagined to serve new needs and populations? When we talk about sustainability, what do we mean? And, what can each of us do to contribute to a healthy, diverse, equitable, tolerant, innovative and fun place to live? Above all, how are the creative arts crucial to the above and how can they move conversation forward?

The Festival is organized around three central programs:

•    A three-day slate of symposia, lectures, and workshops with visionaries and leaders— including exemplary mayors, forecasters, architects, artists, economists, and technology experts—who will address the four broad Festival themes: The Heterogeneous City; The Networked City; The Reconfigured City; and The Sustainable City. These events will take place at the Cooper Union, New York University, and the New Museum from Wednesday to Saturday, May 4-7.

•    An innovative, minimal-waste, outdoor StreetFest will take place along the Bowery. More than seventy-five local grassroots organizations, small businesses, and non-profits will present model products and practices in a unique outdoor environment. The Festival will premiere a new environmentally inspired tent module commissioned for the Festival, as well as outdoor living rooms and inflatable structures. Visitors can expect cooking demonstrations with urban farmers, rooftop gardening classes, oral history projects, bike tours and valets, and a variety of affordable and healthy, locally grown, sustainable food options. The StreetFest will take place on Saturday, May 7, 11 a.m to 7 p.m.

•    Over a hundred independent projects, exhibitions, and performances, which expand on the Festival’s themes, will open at multiple festival partner venues Downtown, activating a broad geographic area. Projects include a solar powered mobile art studio; artist-commissioned roll-down metal storefront gates; projections of poems in endangered languages on Lower East Side buildings; a prototype of an urban campground; a marathon event where architects will present their ideas about reconfiguring public space in a rapid fire format; an exhibit exploring the political, economic and social relevance of preservation and its role in architectural thinking; and a wide range of other activities exploring ideas for the future. These events will open Saturday evening, May 7, and Sunday, May 8.

The Festival was initially conceived by the New Museum three years ago and attracted a core group of partners who have met regularly over the past two years: The Architectural League; Bowery Poetry Club; C-Lab/ Columbia University; Center for Architecture; The Cooper Union; The Drawing Center; New Museum (Founding Partner); New York University Wagner; PARC Foundation; Storefront for Art and Architecture; and Swiss Institute.

The Organizing Partners of the Festival are unified in their belief in the power of collaboration to make a difference and influence public awareness; together they advocate the central importance of creative capital to the quality of life in New York and any future city.

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