Listen to the RSVP Music Chat podcast with three key figures in the 2019 edition of the Festival of the Arts which takes over downtown Grand Rapids starting Friday.
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A half-century of Festivals.
With Grand Rapids’ Festival of the Arts celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend with another multi-stage affair covering much of downtown, RSVP Music Chat sat down with some movers and shakers with the organization to look back and look ahead at the volunteer-run event:
• Fred Bivins, of Vinecroft Studios, who’s been involved with Festival since the 1970s and serves on the board of directors;
• David Abbott, Festival’s executive director since April 2018;
• James Sofranko, Festival 2019 co-chairman and artistic director for the Grand Rapids Ballet, which will present a world premiere performance on the Calder Plaza Stage during Festival on Saturday night.
Always held the first full weekend in June, the free-admission festival once again will feature hundreds of performances by regional bands, dance troupes and others on 10 different stages (including four “pop-up” stages as well as karaoke opportunities), a regional art exhibition with 367 pieces of art in the Fed Galleries at Kendall College of Art & Design, wide-ranging food booths run by nonprofit groups, and creative activities for children and adults.
In addition, food trucks have been added to the lineup of one of the longest-running festivals in Michigan.
“This is the largest performance schedule we’ve had in decades,” said Abbott, noting that after various construction alterations, Festival is back to having a “full footprint” from Calder Plaza to Rosa Parks Circle for 2019.
And as he put it, all performers want “to have that crowd moment” no matter their age as part of an event that involves a broad spectrum of the community in celebrating the arts.
For Bivins, it’s a lifelong tradition that he can’t imagine being without. “That just became a part of me,” he said of Festival.
Listen to the their conversation with Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics and Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles – a veteran Festival performer – and find out more about the Grand Rapids Ballet’s involvement in the 50th anniversary event.
Festival officially kicks off Friday at lunchtime. And check out Local Spins’ Best of Festival picks for 2019.
PODCAST: RSVP Music Chat – Festival of the Arts 2019
Miss the last episode? Check out the RSVP Music Chat with John VanderHaagen and Ted Bufkin who are involved with the Meijer Gardens concert series. Local Spins posts RSVP Music Chat podcasts every other Thursday. And if you have a comment or a suggestion for a future podcast, leave a SpeakPipe voice message for us below.
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