Last year’s Communiversity brought record crowds to Nassau and Witherspoon Streets and all points in between. This year, the annual free Town and Gown arts festival, which will take place Sunday, April 27, from 1 to 6 p.m., is showcasing a record number of performers and artists.
Organized by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) with the participation of Princeton University students and the support of the municipality, the festival brings together local and student performers, artists, crafters, chefs, merchants, community groups, and volunteers.
In 1991, Communiversity drew a crowd of 10,000. Last year the number of visitors was four times as many for the Town and Gown celebration that began in 1971 as “The Art People’s Party.” In 1974, the annual celebration was held on the grounds surrounding McCarter Theater and was dedicated in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday. In 1976, when it was held on the Washington Road Bridge, festival attendees arrived by boat and enjoyed picnics by Lake Carnegie. When Princeton students joined in the event in 1985, it became “Communiversity.” In 2006, it changed the name to become “Communiversity Festival of the Arts.”
This year, there will be non-stop live performances on six stages by 40 participating groups of entertainers. There will be over 200 booths on Nassau and Witherspoon Streets, as well as on the green at Palmer Square and on the University campus in front of Nassau Hall.
Paul Muldoon’s Wayside Shrines will perform as will Avi Wisnia, Luke Elliot, and Swift Technique, to name a few. Besides demonstrations by members of the American Repertory Ballet/Princeton Ballet School, visitors will be treated to Bollywood-style dancing from Aaja Nachale and Flamenco dancing from Lisa Botalico and Fiesta Flamenco.
Other musicians from the Central Jersey area include Danielia Cotton, Some Like it Hot Club, Blue Jersey Band, Dave Grossman, Rainbow Fresh, The Blue Meanies, and Stephanie White and the Philth Harmonics.
Street performances from a cappella groups, jugglers, and a drum and bugle corps, will take place throughout downtown and visitors will be able to encounter art at almost every turn with visual artists in action throughout the day at several “street side studios,” in which ACP faculty members demonstrate nine different techniques and media from felting to collage-making and from jewelry crafting to silk painting.
Last year, the Arts Council introduced Paint Out Princeton to great success and this time around, some 40 local painters will be at their easels painting scenes of the day at points around town, including Hinds Plaza, Palmer Square Green, and Tiger Park. Their work, along with work from the Paint Out at Morven Museum and Garden on Sunday, May 4, will be displayed in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts through May 10, with a closing reception from 3 to 5 p.m.
Also new this year, is a community-wide monotype art project in the Hulfish parking lot. Participants will create monotype prints that will be assembled into an enormous piece of artwork.
Besides new events, returning favorites include the popular children’s Stone Soup Circus parading from Nassau Hall to the Palmer Square Stage. The parade begins at 1:15 p.m.
The Palmer Square stage will feature family-friendly entertainment throughout the afternoon. Also on the Square will be sidewalk chalk painting and on the green, “Nana’s-Make-A-Mess” with lots of messy materials for kids to make their own original artwork. A caricature artist will be on hand to observe the young artists in action and create his version of the aspiring artists at work. At the University, kid’s events include sports clinics, a pie-throwing contest, and a bounce house.
In addition to free Sunday parking on Princeton’s side streets, parking will be available in garages on Spring, Chambers and Hulfish Streets and a Communiversity shuttle will run from the Princeton Shopping Center to the corner of Wiggins and Witherspoon from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m.
For more information, call (609) 924-8777, or visit: www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.