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New Museum’s IDEAS CITY Festival Kicks Off May 1st

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IDEAS CITY FESTIVAL Courtesy of New Museum, New York. Photo: Clint Spaulding
IDEAS CITY FESTIVAL Courtesy of New Museum, New York. Photo: Clint Spaulding

If you think ideas are a dime a dozen, then you need to check out IDEAS CITY FESTIVAL, the second installment of the New Museum’s biennial festival that “explores the future of cities around the globe with the belief that arts and culture are essential to the vitality of urban centers, making them better places to live, work, and play.”

No small ideas here. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from the creative team at the New Museum whose dedication to new art and new ideas is unprecedented. The New Museum founded IDEAS CITY in 2011 as a way for hundreds of arts, education, and civic organizations to begin ongoing global discussions on the future of cities. This year’s overarching theme, Untapped Capital, focuses on resources that are under-recognized or underutilized in our cities.

IDEAS CITY runs May 1st – May 4th and includes an impressive four-day line-up of conferences, workshops, independent projects, and public events. Joi Ito, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media, and a leading thinker on innovation and global technology policy, kicks off the festival on Wednesday, May 1st with a keynote address at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. Thursday is the IDEAS CITY Conference: Youth, Play, Waste, and Ad Hoc Strategy, followed by Friday’s IDEAS CITY workshops at the Old School, and Saturday’s outdoor ‘rain or shine’ StreetFest.

There are plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas and participate in activities designed to “accelerate creativity”, especially at the festival’s outdoor public StreetFest, which takes over an entire square block around the New Museum. Over 125 artists, architects, technologists, historians, community activists, entrepreneurs, and ecologists will be plying their trade under specially designed sustainable and visually compelling tents, by the architecture and design firm Davidson Rafailidis—winners of the IDEAS CITY StreetFest Tenting Competition. In addition, there are a series of evening programs.

In addition to the New Museum, IDEAS CITY is made up of an executive committee that includes the Architectural League of New York; Bowery Poetry Club; Cooper Union; the Drawing Center; New York University Wagner School; and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Below is a list of LES festival highlights. For a complete schedule, visit IDEAS CITY.


Play Panel Discussion / Thursday, May 2, 2:30pm / The Great Hall, Cooper Union. How can play and gaming assist us in reimagining and cocreating urban environments, foster deeper engagement, propel education, and provide solutions to urban problems?

The City and Untapped Capital: Mayoral Panel / Thursday May 2, 7:30pm / The Great Hall, Cooper Union. The discussion on the future of cities continues with this signature event featuring five mayors from Austin, Lexington, Nashville, Miami, and Paris. Moderated by Kurt Andersen, writer, media icon, host/co-creator of Studio360.


Museum Teen Summit and the New Museum’s G:Class Program Life Coaching from Expert Adolescents. Let MTS provide sage youth wisdom in response to your life’s great quandaries. Help us finish our projects (from paintings to homework), and we’ll use our expertise to help you solve any problem you may have.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition / Oral History Booth. Hester Street Collaborative, Asian Americans for Equality and Partnerships for Parks have collectively organized an oral history booth that functions both as a place to listen to recordings of stories, and as an interview station to capture new recordings.

Kim Holleman / Trailer Park: Mobile Public Park. Trailer Park is a portable, natural public park housed inside a fourteen-foot mobile trailer.


The Drawing Center–Terry Smith: Capital Revisited / Wed. May 1–Sat. May 4 / Multiple locations. Using carving, pencil, and chalk techniques, artist Terry Smith will create an iteration of his architectural drawing Capital Revisited in underused locations around Lower Manhattan. Artist-led tours on May 4.

Time’s Up Energy Bikes! / Friday May 3, 10am – 6pm / Old School, 233 Mott St. A team of Time’s Up bicyclists, mechanics, and electrical engineers have combined their skills to build friction and belt-driven generators that convert pedaling into electrical energy.

The They Co. / School Nite / Saturday May 4, 6pm–2am / Old School, 233 Mott St. Under the exhibition theme of Wish Meme, the They Co., will coordinate curatorial exhibitions exploring ideas of wish fulfillment, fiscal dependency, self-entitlement, and the agents working against these phenomena.








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