NYC’s free ‘Lower East Side Festival of the Arts’ this weekend at Theater for the New City

The 27th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts is on for three full days this Memorial Day weekend, from Friday, May 27-Sunday, May 29, at Theater for the New City (TNC), with a wide array of free indoor and outdoor offerings that include theater, music, dance, video, film, poetry, cabaret, an art exhibition, and a youth program, along with food and vendors.

Founded by Crystal Field in 1970, TNC, now in its 52nd year, is dedicated to nurturing experimental artists and art forms, and to expanding accessibility in the LES community. The mission of the Festival – a yearly celebration of the rich artistic culture and ethnic diversity of the area, in which all cultures and disciplines are represented – is to unify the community, to create a positive image for the Lower East Side, and to discover new writing talent. Since its inception in 1996, the popular event has grown tenfold and is attended by over 3000 people annually.

An assortment of more than 200 live short performances will be presented this year, both inside the TNC’s Johnson Theater and Cabaret beginning on Friday evening at 6:00 and continuing past midnight on Sunday, and at the outdoor stage on East 10th Street on Saturday afternoon, from 1-5 pm, with short works of music, comedy, dance, and poetry, along with a Street Fair that includes food and goods sold by local merchants. The children’s program, performed for and by students from local schools, will take place in the Johnson from 2-4:30 pm on Saturday, and the poetry jam, held in the Community Center on Saturday from 4-7 pm, will be followed by an open mic (time permitting).

In addition to the live offerings in the performing arts, the 2022 film program will be screened in the Cabaret on Saturday, from 1-11 pm, with more than two dozen selections ranging in length from one minute to 109 minutes. And TNC Gallery’s Artists Embrace Liberty & Justice, curated by Carolyn Ratcliffe, showcases the free-spirited art works of 31 artists who live and/or work on the Lower East Side, expressing the independent mindset of the LES arts community. The exhibition runs through Thursday, June 30, and is also available to view free-of-charge online.

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts plays May 27-29, 2022, at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, NYC. Events are free. All patrons must be vaccinated to attend shows and must provide proof when entering the building.


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