Greater City Providence

PVDfest to Return, June 2-5, 2016


From the Mayor’s Office:

Signature Event in “America’s Coolest City” Returns for Second Year

Rebranded and expanded, PVDFest will bring four days of art, music, and to the streets of Providence, June 2-5, 2016

Providence, RI – City of Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and Founding Creative Partner FirstWorks announced PVDFest, Rhode Island’s signature art festival will return June 2-5 to transform streets in the heart of Providence into a celebration of art, music, food, performance and more. Artists and performers from around the block and around the globe will converge in Providence for a free outdoor extravaganza expected to draw thousands of guests. Just days before last year’s inaugural Providence International Arts Festival, GQ magazine declared Providence “America’s Coolest City,” and the rebranded and expanded PVDFest will continue to build that momentum.

The four days of citywide programming will once again culminate on Saturday, June 4, beginning with a free celebration that will turn spaces downtown into a world-class performance stage, cutting edge art gallery, and culturally diverse block party. The Festival will animate the downtown as a living canvas from the Festival core anchored by Providence City Hall, FirstWorks Plaza Stage, Alex and Ani City Center and Burnside Park, all along the Washington Street corridor to the Empire Street gateway.

“Building upon the success of last year’s festival, PVDFest will bring new artists and experiences for all of our attendees,” said Mayor Elorza. “We are lucky to have so many talented partners, collaborators, artists and performers participating in PVDFest and look forward to showcasing all that the Creative Capital has to offer to the entire world.”

Building on the vision of Mayor Elorza, The City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism will produce the follow up festival, collaborating with FirstWorks, a Providence-based non-profit organization dedicated to connecting art with audiences. Founding Creative Partner for the Festival, FirstWorks staged a full day of headlining performances from international musicians, dancers, and more during last year’s festival. For 2016, FirstWorks will curate spectacle, music, and the FirstWorks Plaza Stage spotlighting international stars and local favorites that have festival-goers dancing in the streets and discovering global culture from the world’s stage.

“PVDFest will transform the urban landscape of Kennedy Plaza and Washington Street into a magical space for meeting, playing, and experiencing the arts,” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. “With a surprise on every street corner, it will be a spectacular mash-up of connecting art and place with audiences.”

A wide array of arts and cultural organizations, businesses, and individual artists and performers make the Festival hyper-local as well as global. Key collaborators and programming announced today include:

  • FirstWorks, who will feature musicians from Cuba, Ghana, and Haiti as part of their FirstWorks Plaza Stage and Alex and Ani Rink Stage lineups. In addition, FirstWorks will transform Kennedy Plaza into a pre-historic landscape with “Saurus” a street theatre performance from the Netherlands.
  • The Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, which will bring some the programming that has become a staple of summer in Burnside Park to the Festival by creating a community showcase featuring family activities, local performers and vendors, and opportunities to participate and play.
  • The Dean Hotel, will once again collaborate with The Avenue Concept to activate its parking lot with a daylong arts exhibition and block party.
  • AS220, one of the anchor arts institutions located within the festival grounds, will program public art installations and performances in and around all of their buildings, curate performances at The Coastway Community Stage (sponsored by the Coastway Community Bank) and along Washington Street. Resident artists will open up their studios and the AS220 Industries will hold an open house.
  • Beautiful Silence will help turn the parking lot behind the Arnold Building into a dance floor featuring some of the best local DJs.
  • The Avenue Concept will launch its’ Influx Festival of public art at PVDFest.
  • AC+T and WBRU will kick off the 2016 summer concert series at PVDFest on Friday, June 3 in the Alex and Ani Center featuring The Heavy and Joy Formidable.
  • Illuminating Trinity programming by Southside Cultural Center partner tenants including Rhode Island Black Storytellers, RI Latino Arts, Providence Improv Guild, The Wilbury Theater, Laotian Cultural Center, Cambodian Society with generous support from ArtPlace America.

“The DPPC is very pleased to be part of this festival and grateful for our place making partnership with the city. Arts and public programming are two of the essential tools we use to reimagine and rebuild our valuable parks and public spaces,” added Cliff Wood, Executive Director of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, a key collaborator in the festival.

“The PVD Fest is an unprecedented coming together of local businesses, artists, and cultural organizations in an annual showcase of the very thing that keeps them tethered to this city day in and day out. A celebration of its very heartbeat,” said Aarin Clemons, Brand and Culture Director at The Dean Hotel.

The new website for PVDFest is now available at for those looking to create, perform, sell or volunteer in this year’s PVDFEST.

Greater City Providence

Promoting the smart urban growth of the Greater Providence region.


  • This is a signature event, and very cool, and the mayor deserves praise for making it happen. But I think the challenge this year should be for people to imagine ways in which parts of the car-free mentality can come to Providence permanently. Are there specific spaces we can wall off from cars for good? Are there parking lots that could become outdoor spaces permanently, instead of just for a day or two? I have this same general criticism of Waterfire, which is that we do this great job of creating pedestrian spaces for a short time in the city for the benefit of outside visitors, and then we retreat to car-land the rest of the time.

    Also, there should be more coordination with RIPTA to get increased routes running during these events, and perhaps since there’s a high demand it would make sense to put a surcharge on parking to pay for the added service. Especially for certain routes, like the 60, I think a lot of work could be done to get more riders. Those are places where people might have cars to drive in, but also benefit from having a walkable town and frequent bus service.

  • This festival completely upends the entire state’s transit system. I’m not sure one who came in on a bus could figure out how or where to find their bus to go back home.

  • Agree on creating a permanent pedestrian area in downtown. It should be done in partnership with the colleges, as well. By co-locating college space on the pedestrian mall, college students will provide some base traffic during 9 months of the year. This is something that Providence would really embrace right now, the amount of foot traffic downtown has been visibly growing since 2012 and a “destination” pedestrian mall would add to this even more. It has to be “new” foot traffic though, we need to be appealing to a broader range of people.

  • Well, if you are looking at Westminster Street, how about the city get those buildings that have been empty for years and years occupied and up to date? I’m thinking the old Journal Bulletin bldg, the empty building next to it, the building next to Aurora, Tilden Thurber building, etc. 4 or 5 empty buildings in a 2 block stretch certainly gives the idea that there is trouble in the area.

Providence, RI
5:21 am8:03 pm EDT
Feels like: 54°F
Wind: 13mph NNE
Humidity: 86%
Pressure: 30.01"Hg
UV index: 1
72°F / 52°F
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