A Festival Grows in Harlem: The 6th Annual Harlem Arts Festival Expands in Marcus Garvey Park, June 23–25th

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The 2017 lineup is announced, headlined by J.PERIOD and Prodigy from Mobb Deep. New areas and activities will be available during the festival.

Celebrating its sixth year at Marcus Garvey Park, at 18 Mount Morris Park West in Harlem, the Harlem Arts Festival will return June 23 – 25, 2017, as the official summer kickoff event for Harlem residents and New Yorkers of all ages who love the arts. Event is open to all. Opening Night Party tickets are $65 and can be purchased at http://www.harlemartsfestival.com.

The multidisciplinary art festival will provide a stage for 32 talented musicians, dancers, singers, comics, theater companies and contemporary visual artists, plus workshops, and more than 40 food and local business vendors on each day of the fest.

Headlining the event will be a special collaboration of Grammy award winning Trumpeter/Producer "Maurice "Mobetta" Brown and #HAF2015 Artist Marc Cary’s “Short Circuit”, featuring Prodigy from internationally acclaimed duo Mobb Deep, and esteemed dance choreographer Stefanie Batten-Bland.

“This year’s class of artists are truly incredible. Responding to what is going on across the country today, these ‘artists rising’ are using their art as activism to bring people together.” said Neal Ludevig, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Harlem Arts Festival. “These are some of the most exciting emerging artists out there, and you can say you saw them here first. We’re excited to be working with them and provide a real support system and community for them to hone their craft.”

Leading up to the Festival four artists will be featured through video profiles. Featured artists include: Shacar, a 22-year old musician recently signed to Paradice records, Stefanie Batten-Bland, a world renowned contemporary dance choreographer closing Sunday night of the festival, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, a painter, actor, sculptor, poet, playwright, and historian of West African who will be performing his one man play throughout the weekend, and Makeba Rainey, a visual artist and founder of Black Capital Coalition (BCC). Her work explores digital media through the creation of digital collages inspired by influential African American icons throughout history.

The heart of the festival will remain on Marcus Garvey Park’s main stage in the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater, with additional performances at the Second Stage near the main entrance of the park at 124th St. and 5th Ave. Artwork from 12 visual artists selected by a panel of cultural leaders from Harlem will be displayed along the HAF Gallery Walk. There will be a Kids Corner with interactive, art making activities, face painting, bubbles and more for all ages. HAF will partner with nearby venues, Harlem Village Academies and the Mt. Morris Presbyterian Ascension Church to present theater performances by HAF artists.

The Opening Night Party will be held at Solomon & Kuff, a new 5,000 square foot rum hall in West Harlem. Sponsored by Smirnoff, tickets are $65 and include a 2-hour open bar and dance party by internationally acclaimed DJ, J. Period. The #HAFterparty hosted by the HAF Junior Board will take place at Gin Fizz, at 308 Malcolm X Blvd., on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30pm, tickets are $5. HAF will also host its annual festival brunch at Angel of Harlem at 2272 Frederick Douglass Blvd. on Sunday, June 25 from 12-3pm. Tickets are $35 and are all inclusive of tax and tip. All event tickets may be purchased at the door or on http://www.harlemartsfestival.com.

HAF will offer a $50 VIP ticket for the first time at the festival, which will provide festival goers special packages upon arrival, preferred seating at the amphitheater, and free bites from local restaurants. This year’s festival will be the largest yet. HAF’s activities will extend to the NE corner of Marcus Garvey Park for the first time with more than 80 vendors.

Co-Founder, J.J. El-Far explains, “HAF seeks to create an opportunity for both long-time and new residents to come together to celebrate Harlem’s cultural richness. It is an example of what individuals can accomplish when they decide to create something authentic and meaningful in their community.” Local business owner Leticia “Skai” Young added, "Lolo’s Seafood Shack has been a part of Harlem Arts Festival since it opened its doors in 2015...As a personal fan of the arts, their work is critical in this neighborhood. For business, for artists, and to make sure Harlem stays Harlem."

Its 6th season has already garnered coverage from NY1, CBS News, the Amsterdam News, and more, has had a more competitive selection process than ever before.

What’s New at the Harlem Arts Festival (HAF):

  • Harlem Arts and Ideas: A new community discussion forum featuring local speakers with a variety of topics ranging from historic preservation to parenting. Armchair philosophers, students of live, and community activists are welcome to pull up a blanket on the lawn and join the conversation.
  • Special Collaborations and Commissions:
  • Theater Commission: SPACES: Harlem by Kaimera Productions with the Humans Collective is an immersive storytelling performance that invites audiences to experience intimate moments from Harlem’s past. At the heart of the piece, local Harlem residents recount personal stories about the place they call home. SPACES: Harlem combines dance, theater, music, and video, and will take place at the historic Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church across from the park.
  • In anticipation of festival weekend, Harlem Arts Festival is collaborating with Uptown Grand Central, and is bringing a different performance to 125th and Park each week to promote the festival, and provide free public performances for the community. More details at uptowngrandcentral.org/goodvibes/
  • Collaboration with Neruda Williams and the Harlem Comedy Festival featuring Harlem’s best comics as emcees for the festival.

Major 2017 Festival supporters include Harlem Community Development Corporation, NYC Parks Department, Con Edison, Circa, Green Mountain Energy, LMCC, Department of Cultural Affairs, Columbia Community Service Foundation, Solomon & Kuff, Whole Foods, WNYC and Smirnoff.

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Neal Ludevig

Neal Ludevig
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