Copy of June 21 - 24 | By The People Festival

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 11, 2018) – Halcyon this week announced the final line-up of artists, performers, and speakers who will participate in the inaugural By The People festival, June 21-24. Washington’s largest international arts and dialogue festival will take place in every quadrant of the city, bringing people together around the themes of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The festival is intended to promote empathy and spark civil discourse, connecting people from diverse backgrounds and build bridges across the cultural divide.

The public is encouraged to register in advance for a free four-day festival pass at for fastest entry. Most activities are free; a few ticketed events have modest fees.

Official activities will take place at five locations: the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building (900 Jefferson Drive SW), Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW), Union Market (1309 5th St. NE), THEARC West (1801 Mississippi Ave. SE), and The Parks at Walter Reed (1010 Butternut St. NW). Satellite locations include the Anacostia Arts Center, The Anthem, Blind Whino SW Arts Club, Embassy of France, Gallery 102/GW Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Hamiltonian, IA&A at Hillyer, The Kennedy Center, The Kreeger Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Miracle Theatre, Shakti Arts at Bossa Bistro and Lounge, Transformer at Farragut Square Park, United States Institute of Peace, and U Street Music Hall. 

The Smithsonian’s landmark Arts and Industries Building (A&I) will serve as the festival’s headquarters and central hub. After being shuttered for more than a decade, A&I is being developed as a laboratory for the exploration of big questions about the future and a vehicle for inspiring Americans about the impact of creativity and innovation on society.


A full-on arts takeover of Washington, By the People features more than 100 events throughout the city. Highlights include:

·      A newly commissioned video installation by “Renaissance artist” Nick Cave and a response by jazz musician Jason Moran; interactive installations on life, liberty, and happiness in the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building; a powerful large-scale work by Imran Qureshi on the sidewalk in front of the National Cathedral; a performance art piece by Marine veteran Jefferson Pinder in response to Walter Reed including a marching band procession; an exhibition by two graduates of THEARC I CAN program.

·      Performances ranging from go-go to a showcase of punk banks to ballet premieres.

·      “Common Ground” discussions in which festival guests will be randomly paired with a fellow guest or a surprise VIP for a 10-minute unscripted conversation around a shared question. Participants will add their mutual ideas to a collective mural.

·      An augmented reality art hunt, powered by ARTECHOUSE and similar to Pokemon Go, in which the public uses their mobile devices to search for virtual artworks throughout the city that relate to the festival themes.

·      Pop up activities including Bridgman|Packer Dance, who will perform the ingenious and magical Truck, a nontraditional dance inside a 17-foot U-Haul truck; and Mind the Heart!, a worldwide public street art project by Israeli artists Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan. 

·      “Solstice Saturday” a Smithsonian celebration of the summer’s longest day held in conjunction with the festival. Participating Smithsonian museums will feature free activities during extended evening hours on Saturday, June 23.

The By The People Dialogues will connect the District’s rapidly growing art scene to the city’s long history of civic dialogue and debate. The series of conversations will take place June 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. at the U.S. Institute for Peace (2301 Constitution Ave. NW). Using a moderator-less “debate” format to examine two sides of a topic and demonstrate the necessity of civil discourse, the series features conversations on the festival themes of life, liberty, and happiness. The dialogues are free but registration is required. Speakers include:

·      On the topic of life (at 9:30 a.m.): Lucianne Walkowicz, Baruch S. Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress and an Astronomer at Adler Planetarium, sits down with Armstrong Wiggins, director of the Indian Law Resource Center, to examine: What would be the potential implications of discovering life beyond earth, and do they warrant the billions of dollars spent on the endeavor? Dr. Avi Mandell, exoplanet scientist in the Planetary Systems Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center, will introduce the speakers and provide a framework to the topic of life.  

·      On the topic of liberty (at 10:40 a.m.): Yousef Bashir, Palestine-born activist and speaker, converses with Yossi Klein Halevi, Israel-born author and journalist, on the topic: What is the most pragmatic and ethical way to achieve a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel? Ambassador (ret.) Barbara Bodine, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and concurrent director of the institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, will introduce and frame the dialogue on liberty.

·      On the topic of happiness (at 12:30 p.m.): Dr. Robert Waldinger, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Robin Hunicke, co-founder and CEO of the independent game studio Funomena, examine: Research has shown that the strength of human relationships is critical to long-term well-being and happiness. With the rapid advancement of human interaction online, are virtually-developed relationships providing benefits to our long-term happiness or detracting from it? A second conversation on happiness (at 1:40 p.m.) features Todd Hitt, CEO of Kiddar Capital, and Sonal Shah, executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown University, who will discuss the question: Is capitalism producing the impact outcomes needed in the 21st century, and is it a solution for, or cause of, the rising wealth gap in this country? 

Artists and Performers
The line-up of artists and performers includes Kristin Adair, Chloe Bensahel, Michael JN Bowles, Nathaniel Brodie, Antonius Bui,Stacy Cantrell, Nick Cave, Rebecca Clark, Erin Curtis, Hosey Corona, Nekisha Durrett, Maya Freelon, Stephen Hayes, Linda Hesh, Avish Khebrehzadeh, Michael Craig Martin, Estefaní Mercedes, Kerell Partee, Jefferson Pinder, Imran Qureshi, Jenny Sabin, Georgia Saxelby, Rachel Schmidt, Sheldon Scott, Dan Steinhilber, Liliane Tomasko, Heide Trapanier, The Holladay Brothers; Jason Moran; BalletX; Hong Kong Ballet; Wolf Trap Opera; Terra Firma Dance Company; Batalá Washington; Dupont Brass; Washington Performing Arts Men, Women, and Children of the Gospel Choir; Ray LaMontagne with Neko Case; a punk band show curated by Sasha Lord with Sneaks, Taraka Larson (Prince Rama), The Messthetics, and Loud Boyz; punk video pioneer Bradley Friedman; and DJs Baby Alcatraz and Alec Mackaye; and Rare Essence with Small Upsetters. Virginia Shore is the festival’s Artistic Director of Visual Arts and Septime Webre is the festival’s Artistic Director of Performing Arts and Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Ballet.

ASL Interpretation will be available for the following programs at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building:  on June 21 and June 22 (Meditation and Mindfulness at 11 a.m., Picnic Talks at noon; Interactive Workshops at 1 p.m.) and on June 23 and June 24 (Meditation and Mindfulness at 11 a.m., Picnic Talks at noon, Interactive Workshops at 1 p.m.and Common Ground at 2 p.m.) Other access services at the Arts and Industries Building are available by request. Contact Melissa Rasowsky, Smithsonian Institution, at, preferably at least one week in advance of the program.  

A courtesy shuttle will be available to transport festival attendees between festival hubs. The shuttles will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  approximately every 20 minutes. Signage at each hub will indicate the location of the shuttle stop. In addition, Lyft is offering a promotional code, "BYTHEPEOPLE" which attendees can use to receive a credit of up to $5 per ride for a maximum of two rides.

Partners and Sponsors
Partners include: 8 Arts & Culture, 11th Street Bridge Park; The Agora Culture; Anacostia Arts Center; ARTECHOUSE; Blind Whino; Bolamarge; BrandLinkDC; Brightest Young Things; Corillian; Corcoran School of Art, George Washington University; CulturalDC; DC Department of Economic Planning and Development; DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment; DC Office of the Deputy Mayor Planning and Economic Development; Destination DC; Earl W. and Amanda Stafford; EDENS; Events DC; FederalCity Council; Government of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser Mayor; Hong Kong Ballet; Kaze Design; Kiddar Capital; Linder Global Events; Lyft; numberF; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation; The Parks at Walter Reed; Pink Line Project; The Phillips Collection; Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington; Dr. Sachiko Kuno; Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building; Smithsonian Institution; Smithsonian Latino Center; STABLE; Swatchroom; THEARC; theatreWashington; Total Wine & More; U.S. Trust-Bank of America; Union Market; Washington National Cathedral; Washington Performing Arts; Wolf Trap Opera; Whole Foods; William Grant & Sons; Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts; and YOA Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

 About Halcyon
A nonprofit organization that believes in the power of creativity and compassion to empower humanity, Halcyon provides space, community and access to socially engaged artists and social entrepreneurs working to use their vision and talent to address the world’s greatest challenges. Signature programs include Halcyon Incubator, Halcyon Arts Lab, Halcyon Dialogue and the By The People festival. In only three years, Halcyon’s 63 social entrepreneurs have created 460 jobs, raised more than $37 million and impacted nearly half a million lives around the world. Founded by Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Kate Goodall, Halcyon is based out of the historic Halcyon estate and nearby Halcyon Arts Lab in Georgetown.