Elorza wants to ‘think big’ with new arts festival

Mayor Jorge Elorza announces the Providence International Arts Festival. (Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Flanked by a live band and Bolivian dancers, an energetic Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Thursday he expects hundreds of artists to descend on downtown for the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival June 11-14.

The mayor said the four-day event will feature 500 artists, 30 public art installations and 15 stages along with outdoor bars and other festivities. He said he hopes the yearly celebration will one day rival the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

“Let’s think big and let’s think long term,” Elorza said during a morning press conference in Burnside Park, across from the Kennedy Plaza bus terminal.

Elorza said he expects the event to cost around $700,000, largely fueled by in-kind donations, federal funds and support from private foundations. The city is partnering with First Works, a local nonprofit that promotes the arts. Other sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Providence Tourism Council and the Rhode Island Foundation.

Events will begin on the morning of June 11 with exhibitions at the University of Rhode Island’s downtown campus and will continue through the weekend. For the opening ceremonies on Saturday, a WaterFire will be held.

More information on the festival can be found on the event’s website

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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