NYC Festival of Ideas for the New City: Fun, Interesting, Unique Event May 4 – 8

Exterior view of the new museums towers silver building on the Bowery in NYC

This sounds like it's going to be great. The NYC Festival of Ideas for the New City, anchored by the New Museum on Bowery but involving dozens of organizations large and small and sprawling throughout the Village, Soho, the Lower East Side, and Chinatown, is just the sort of ambitious, innovative, creative, and, most of all, FUN event which makes us happy all over again that we live in New York City. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4–with, among other things, the keynote address at the Cooper Union by the great and energetic architect, planner, thinker, and dreamer Rem Koolhaus–and running through the weekend with all sorts of crazy, innovative, provocative, delightful projects, art shows, panels, performances, workshops, temporary structures, interactive exhibitions and, on Saturday, the coolest-sounding StreetFest (on the Bowery below Houston), this town has seen in years, The Festival of Ideas for the New City is going to dominate our agenda for the rest of the week. 


A woman rides a motorized wheelchair with a metal animal frame in front of a graffitti metal door

What exactly is the Festival of Ideas for the New City? The best answer, really, is that it's a lot of things. It's a collaborative effort by downtown Manhattan universities, museums, galleries, independent collectives, and community groups with the common goal of effecting change in the way we live now, and how we will, in the future, interact with and move through and live in this amazing, vibrant, challenging, beautiful home of ours, New York City. The events and activities of the Festival of Ideas for the New City revolve around three central forum: an incredibly varied slate of workshops and lectures and panels spread out over three days, on core topics such the Heterogeneous City, the Sustainable City, and the Networked City; more than 80 independently created/installed/performed art projects and events spread throughout the neighborhood (almost everything is free, by the way); and, most exciting to us, Saturday's StreetFest, radiating out from the New Museum and featuring, the long, colorful, slithering, common tent by Family and PlayLab, "The Worms". 

A young woman spreads her arms to show off a table full of midevil type foods including root veggies, a pig, nuts and other meats

A complete list of everything going on at the Festival of Ideas for the New City is available on their website, and the program of events and locations is far too long to get into here, but our plan, at a minimum, is to show up on Saturday for the StreetFest, which will be all over the Bowery, and nearby Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and will feature booths and kiosks and demonstrations and free-form performances from artists, writers, bakers, architects, engineers, designers, urban farmers, planners, and thought leaders, each one in some way exploring the concept and reality of a future city: what it might look like, what it SHOULD look like, and how we can get there. BONUS: Artists have been working all week on transforming the steel storefront gates of the Bowery into art pieces so when the stores close, at night and on Sunday, the whole area becomes an outdoor gallery. 

A man with a one less car shirts sits on a table in front of huge rows full of bicycles

The NYC Festival of Ideas for the New City 2011 Details 

The 2011 Festival of Ideas for the New City starts on Wednesday, May 4 and runs through Sunday, May 8, and takes place in locations throughout downtown, but is centered on the New Museum, on the Bowery at the end of Prince Street.

Been down so long looks like its up to me written on a garage door - a young woman reads as she passes by

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