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‘People’s Festival’ of art, performances and more kicks off in Brooklyn this weekend

"The People's Bus," a vehicle with a mission of helping engage New Yorkers, will be featured at The People's Festival six stops across the Five Boroughs over the next three weekends.
NYC Civic Engagement Commission

Coinciding with the end of NYC Homecoming Week, “The People’s Festival” kicks off today in Brooklyn — bringing an array of art, cultural performances, resources and more to some of the New York City neighborhoods hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festivities kick off on Aug. 20 at Albee Square, located at Fulton Mall and Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn, followed two days later, on Sunday, Aug. 22, at Marcy Avenue Plaza, near MacDonough and Fulton Streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Similar activities will be held across the city on four other days through early September.

The People’s Festival brings a day of outdoor events to “celebrate New Yorkers’ resilience with live performances, interactive workshops and community information and resources,” according to the city’s Civic Engagement Commission — which is organizing the festival in conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and Public Artist in Residence Yazmany Arboleda.

“It is crucial that we educate, empower and inspire New Yorkers to be active participants in their communities, economies and elections,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “The People’s Festival is bringing New Yorkers together and tapping into the transformative power of art to make democracy inclusive and government accessible.”

At the heart of each People’s Festival celebration will be The People’s Bus, a former Corrections Department vehicle transformed into a colorful, brightly-decorated community center dedicated to engaging New Yorkers. The bus’ interior ceiling features the “People’s Sistine Chapel,” made of more than a million recycled and donated beads from the Materials for the Arts. 

The bus will include staff members who will be available to provide visitors with information about government agencies and community groups. Artists and performers will also be stationed there to delight visitors.

You can also pick up a sweet treat — and learn more about your housing, immigration, labor and voting rights — at the Ice Cream Truck of Rights, a repurposed take on the traditional treat truck. 

The other art and entertainment programs available at each People’s Festival are powered through the City Artist Corps, a $25 million program that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Cultural Affairs announced earlier this year to support struggling entertainers during the pandemic. 

“We’re thrilled that City Artist Corps, which is dedicated to supporting artists while enriching our city with creative programming, will help make The People’s Festival a dynamic, engaging public art experience as it rolls across the five boroughs,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals.

After its stops in Brooklyn, The People’s Festival will head to the city’s other four boroughs on the following dates:

• Friday, Aug. 27, on Staten Island along Minthorne Street between Bay Street and Victory Boulevard in Tompkinsville.

• Sunday, Aug. 29, in Queens along 34th Avenue between 93rd and 94th Streets in Jackson Heights.

• Friday, Sept. 3, in Manhattan at the Plaza de las Américas, West 175th Street between Wadsworth and St. Nicholas Avenues in Washington Heights.

• Sunday, Sept. 5, in the Bronx at Fordham Plaza, Webster Avenue and East Fordham Road in Fordham Manor.

This story first appeared on amNewYork.

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