City Sets Stage For A&I

This year’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas is getting an upgrade — a brand new stage, owned permanently by the city.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp made that announcement Wednesday morning on the New Haven Green, where the stage will stand until the end of the two-week festival. After the festival has ended, city employees will fold the stage into a trailer and transport it to the city’s maintenance facility on Park Road, where it will remain until a public speech, concert or event requires its use. It takes a day to assemble.

The $473,000, 40-by-40 foot apparatus comes from last year’s $1 million dollar grant from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), a chunk of which has already gone toward electrical work, plumbing and water, and public wifi on the Green.

The addition of a stage — supervised and maintained by employees from the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Trees —  is intended as a long-term cost-saving measure, said Harp at the event. In the past, both the city and the festival have had to rent stages for their events. The stage is expected to last for 30 years.

Annually, Market New Haven was “budgeting over $15,000 for stage costs,” said Parks, Recreation and Trees director Becky Bombero in an exchange after the event. Arts & Ideas was spending between $150,000 and $180,000 annually, estimated Festival Co-Director Chad Herzog. Herzog added that a rented stage usually took five days to set up; this one is easily collapsable, and goes up in a 24-hour period.

Erection, management and maintenance of the stage will be overseen by four long-time employees of the parks department — electrician Jim Wankowicz, carpenter Jim Hatrick, heavy equipment operator Don Iannuzzi and mechanic Sean O’Grady. 

With the stage, “we’ve doubled down to amplify the city’s role as a heart of the region,” said Harp at the event. “Now the stage is ours, and we can leave it [here] for as long as we like.”

“But we won’t do that,” she added to a smattering of laughter from the crowd.

“This is where arts converge with engineering and ideas,” said city arts czar Andy Wolf. “I don’t have words for how transformative this is.”

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posted by: Bill Saunders on June 15, 2017  9:24pm

This isn’t any sparkling news—this is a scale down because of budget constraints.

Is A&I paying the city for use of this stage?
How much does it cost Joe Citizen to rent it?

Are there two sets of rules—one for Ann Wooster, Market New Haven, and A&I,
and another set for everybody else?

The International Festival has been off to a striking start this year— They Added a Week to the Schedule, after two full weekends, nothing has appeared in the public space known as The New Haven Green

I think A&I should have just started being honest with themselves a long time ago, and morphed this ‘three week extravaganza’ into a functional and well-programmed one week community festival….these pop-up festivals in the hood, while a good start, are really just a ploy to maintain state funding—They didn’t happen out of good will.

But who am I to give advice…..

posted by: Rich Pizzo on June 15, 2017  10:23pm

Stage looks pretty impressive Mayor Harp. And now for a big canopy covered dance floor right in front of the stage… where the real and most interesting to watch performance goes on…......


posted by: Bill Saunders on June 16, 2017  4:25am

The Girl is Still on Fire!!!!!!!  She need’s to be Put Out!

posted by: Rich Pizzo on June 16, 2017  7:17am

Add a canopied 40ft x 40ft dance floor right in front of the stage, hire a line up of Dance Bands, a few different 15min dance instructors between bands and get this show going…...

The green is level enough in front of the stage to lay down a 40 x 40 ground hugging interlocking dance floor…. -this is done all the time in California…...  a 40 x 40 tent, open on all sides, over the floor. to protect the dancers and the floor from the sun…..... spectators can sit on lawn chairs and hey bails all around the the tent -on 3 sides…...

Buy the dance floor, is better than renting one…..... I would buy the 3ft by 3ft black and white interlocking squares…..  which can be left lying on the grass for up to a week….. without ruining the grass….... the grass under the floor will yellow, but will come back to full green in 4-6 days…..

Lets get New Haven Dancing together, there is nothing more beautiful than a big dance floor with people of all ages and ethnicities dancing together…...  Build it and they will come…..

Dancers are great entertainment, fun to watch and fun to join in on the dancing…. People have a need to dance…... and everyone can dance, if you can walk, you can dance…....  eventually you will learn… you will need a bigger dance floor…....

posted by: Rich Pizzo on June 16, 2017  12:15pm

Here is how it is done in California -comparatively speaking, at much lower cost- far less grandiosity/glitter…. one big tent, wall to wall dance floor, stage at one end…...3 sides open

tent 40 x 100

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 17, 2017  3:01am

Yo, Pizzo,

I love your vision!!!!!

It understands the importance of community engagement over ‘privileged seating’.

While A&I is still looking to hire a New Executive Director, my next suggested budget cut is to eliminate that titular position entirely.  At $175k/yr, that salary is a major insult to the public at large.

posted by: 1644 on June 17, 2017  11:55am

Pretty obvious cost saving move: instead of renting a stage with your own money (New Haven’s), buy one with some one else’s money (the state’s).  A & I is, of course subsidized by the city, the state, and Yale.  It brings people to New Haven and to Connecticut, and makes New Haven an attractive destination for the cultured bourgeoise which constitutes Yale’s and Connecticut’s ruling class. It’s events like A & I that make a Yale prof pay $6K/mo to live on the Green, vice Woodbridge, meaning that New Haven has high-value rental property in the place of an iconic but vacant and obsolete office building.  It’s a much better investment than the tennis tournament.

posted by: Rich Pizzo on June 22, 2017  8:03am

Arts and Ideas.. absolutely closed to one idea..

Our Community needs to have an open discussion about Dancing in New Haven….

Did you ever notice how some people will get up and dance, some will dance with a partner, others do not dance…....

Those that do not dance should not be making decisions about dancing, dance floors and dance bands…... they do not appreciate dancing… and know nothing about it and what it takes to get the community into social dancing….... it’s the old New England church ethic…. dancing is from the devil…...

Very disappointed in Arts and Ideas….... social dancing together on a dance floor, which is easy and not very expensive to make available is one Idea that seems to DOA to New Haven’s Arts and Ideas planners…. shame on them.

Build it and they will come…...