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    ARTS FIRST Festival May 2-5, 2019

    Join us for our annual celebration of arts and community!

Welcome to the ARTS FIRST festival page!

Each ARTS FIRST festival is unique but every year combines the exuberance of Harvard students, faculty and affiliates who are passionate about the many art forms presented in four rousing days of performances, exhibitions and art-making opportunities. See visual art and opera, dance styles from around the world, many music genres, stand-up and improv comedy, theater, public art, poetry, experimental performances and so much more. We look forward to sharing our Harvard community with you during ARTS FIRST on May 2-5, 2019.

All ages! All arts! All are welcome!

Get involved. Learn more about volunteering at the festival. Contact Marin Orlosky Randow, ARTS FIRST Coordinator.

Highlights for ARTS FIRST 2019

Tracy K. SmithThe festival kicks off Thursday, May 2, 4-5:30 p.m. at Agassiz Theatre with the Harvard Arts Medal ceremony. The 2019 Arts Medal recipient is poet and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith '94. 

On Friday, May 3, 5:30-7 p.m. in the Science Center Plaza Tent, Harvard Jazz Bands will present Jazz on the Plaza, with band leaders Yosvany Terry and Mark Olson. 

Ali SethiThe festival ramps up Saturday, May 4, 12:30-1 p.m. on the Plaza with the always cheerful Harvard University Band for the official opening of the Performance Fair. The ARTS FIRST Performance Fair features comedy, a cappella, dance, music of all kinds, drama and more. Performances run nonstop 1-5 p.m. and showcase the talent and creativity of Harvard students, faculty and staff. Park yourself at one of the 11 stages, or wander around to see as much diverse art as you can cram into four hours. DanceFest, a celebration of dance traditions from around the world, takes over the Plaza tent 3-5 p.m. This is a perennial favorite for the youngest arts lovers at the festival.

Make Art stations on Saturday offer the opportunity for you to be an artist and take your creation home with you. Run by students and staff on the Plaza, you can try your hand at ceramics, figure drawing, crafts and more. 

Ali SethiOn Sunday, May 5, 11 a.m. at the Smith Campus Center, members of Silkroad Ensemble, Parker Quartet and the Brattle Street Chamber Players of Harvard College will share the stage for a combination of chamber music styles and sounds. Singer Ali Sethi '06, who specializes in Indo-Muslim classical and folk genres, will take the stage for a concert later on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Sanders Theatre. He will be joined in conversation with his mentor Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim Religion and Cultures at Harvard and onstage with Grammy Award-winning musician Noah Georgeson.

A special pre-festival concert featuring world-class pianist Angela Hewitt, presented by the Harvard Department of Music, will take place Tuesday, April 30 at Paine Hall. The OFA Learning from Performers program will also present an open-to-the public workshop with Harvard students on Wednesday, May 1. 

Check back soon for updates on programming and news about the 2019 ARTS FIRST Festival!

Want to learn more about the festival? Read the 2018 ARTS FIRST Festival Guide online.

ARTS FIRST is Harvard's annual showcase of student and faculty creativity. Produced by the Office for the Arts, with support from the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the festival is a public event with many free performances and activities for Harvard and community members of all ages.