Text: Karla Jeltema
Beginning five decades ago with “La Grande Vitesse,” often fondly known as “The Calder,” this brilliant work of art became the heart of Grand Rapids, expanding to be the main character and center stage for The Festival of the Arts.
Each June, The Festival of the Arts sashays into downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, showcasing dance, music, artwork, food, and a love of all-things-artisan. However, due to COVID-19, the stage will be set slightly different this year.
David Abbot, executive director of Festival of the Arts, said local arts leaders gathered in early spring to discuss the ins-and-outs of “amplifying every voice through the arts.” With four weeks to plan, a virtual Festival of the Arts, known as Virtual Arts Festival, was put into motion.
This year’s event features contribution from arts and cultural organizations, such as the Grand Rapids Symphony, ArtPrize, Grand Rapids Ballet, Opera Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, DisArt, Artists Creating Together, and more to showcase music, poetry, acting, culinary arts, and dance. The festival will also have a virtual art gallery, which will allow engagement directly with artists to purchase artwork.
“We hope everyone will engage with the arts for the betterment of their mental health and well-being,” Abbott said. “We want to be known for our response, not the issue.”
This year’s event will stream on WoodTV8.com on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. The entire festival is available with American Sign Language and open captioning in English and Spanish. Visit festivalgr.org after Memorial Day for a listing of times & events, as well as a list of Co-Chairs, arts leaders and directors.
Photos courtesy The Festival of the Arts by Eric Zuniga