The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, which has come to symbolize the international cultural ascendancy of its home borough in New York City, has announced its 40th anniversary summer lineup with artists from the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
Common, The Breeders, Aimee Mann, Superchunk, Fischerspooner, Mala Rodríguez, Rhye, Kronos Quartet, Anoushka Shankar, Tinariwen, BADBADNOTGOOD, Noname, Tarrus Riley, Gary Clark Jr., and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are among the artists who will perform in free concerts at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn June 5 to Aug. 11.
Ticketed benefit shows will feature The Decemberists (June 13), Vance Joy and Alice Merton (June 14), Grizzly Bear and Spoon (June 20), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (July 19), Courtney Barnett with Julien Baker and Vagabon (July 25), and Good Vibes with Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen (August 7).
“This special season features over fifty celebrated artists from around the world and around the block who reflect the times and advance the festival’s founding principles of inclusion and democracy,” says Jack Walsh, vp of performing arts for BRIC, a non-profit and leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, who programs the festival with artistic director Rachel Chanoff. “We invite everyone to come together as these artists take our stage to compel, intrigue, entertain and uplift us,” says Walsh.
Staged in a New York City borough of 2.6 million where nearly 40 percent of the population are immigrants, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival stands out in the busy summer season by reflecting the diversity of its surrounding community. As Brooklyn’s cachet as a center of musical culture has grown in recent years, the reputation of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has risen in turn. After debuting in 1979 during a darker economic era for New York City, in an effort to draw visitors back into Prospect Park, the festival both boosted and benefited from the renaissance of Brooklyn.
Chicago-raised hip-hop star and social activist Common will perform a free concert in on June 5, to open the festival’s 40th anniversary season. His performance will be preceded by a benefit gala honoring retiring BRIC president Leslie Griesbach Schultz. Under Schultz’s leadership, since 2005, BRIC has grown from $3.7 million to $15.8 million in annual operating revenues and significantly expanded its programming, education initiatives and community-engagement work.
Other highlights of this year’s free performances include an afternoon family concert by Los Lobos (June 10), the Jayhawks (June 16), Branford Marsalis (June 29), Ricky Skaggs (June 30) and Brandi Carlile (July 26).
The musical collective R+R=Now (Reflect+Respond=Now) led by Robert Glasper has been commissioned by the festival to create The Liberation Suite to respond to the nation’s current socio-political climate. The work will have its debut June 22.
In addition to concerts, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is known for its film and dance presentations. The Wordless Music Orchestra will perform a live score July 21 to accompany a screening of Brimstone and Glory a 2017 documentary about the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico. Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal on July 6 will present the American debut of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me, a work commissioned and endorsed by Cohen before his death as an tribute to his music.
The festival presented in partnership with New York’s department of parks and recreation and the Prospect Park Alliance has sponsorship support from companies including American Express, Bud Light, Eventbrite, the Swiss watch brand Oris, IKEA Brooklyn and the sorbet company Sorbabes, with Hilton Brooklyn serving as its official hotel partner.
Media partners of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival include BET, which is sponsoring Common’s opening night concert as part its celebrate of Black History Month, The Village Voice, public television station WNET, ABC-TV, and public radio stations WNYC, WBGO and WFUV. Several live broadcasts from the festival are planned by WFUV, the adult-alternative radio station of Fordham University.