Mayor Smiley, FirstWorks Unveil PVDFest 2023 Headliners
June 14, 2023

Civil rights icon and Grammy Lifetime Achievement award-winner Mavis Staples performing at Innovation Park Saturday, September 9 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Brett P. Smiley today joined FirstWorks Executive Director Kathleen Pletcher, Director of Art, Culture, Tourism Joe Wilson Jr., Pneuhaus co-founder Matthew Muller, local artists and Providence community members to announce civil rights icon and Grammy Lifetime Achievement award-winner Mavis Staples, in addition to the other exciting musical performances, public art, good eats and curated spectacles festival goers can expect to see September 8-10 at Providence’s signature outdoor arts festival. 

“PVDFest has always been an immersive celebration of the arts, reflective of the talented local artists that are the backbone of our Creative Capital,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “This year we are bringing together neighborhoods, focusing in on the talented artists that are the core of our culture as a city, and using the Providence River to create a unique waterside festival that highlights everything that makes Providence special. We are excited to work with FirstWorks again to produce an unforgettable festival experience.” 

Due to the overwhelming amount of programming that occurs every year in June, the City announced the dates of this year’s festival will be September 8-10. In addition to the date change, this year the festival will be hosted in Innovation District Park along the Providence River. On Friday, September 8 and Saturday, September 9 stay silent PVD will present an ode to Providence’s summer cultural festivals with three hours of DJ sets and live performances to highlight some of the season’s staple community events. On Saturday, September 9, there will be all-day craft vendors markets along with curated performances in various locations across the festival footprint, leading up to a concert by Providence’s very own Flawless, and then a once-in-a-lifetime performance by gospel legend Mavis Staples at 6PM. Immediately following Staples’ riverside performance, the celebration will continue into the night with a full basin lighting by WaterFire, offering an experience you can only find in Providence. On Sunday, Sidy Maiga is producing his eleventh annual Afrika Nyaga drum and dance festival celebrating African culture and the diaspora in collaboration with Providence Foundation at PVDFest. Throughout festival weekend there will be food trucks celebrating gastronomic traditions from around the globe.  

“Festivals are in FirstWorks DNA. We are excited to partner once again with the City of Providence to create extraordinary experiences and memories in this newest evolution of the renowned festival we all love,” said FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher. “We are honored to have such a sustained partnership with the ACT Team. This year the Providence waterfront will be aglow like never before with world-class music and astonishing spectacles, culminating in a full WaterFire lighting on Saturday night. The weekend will prove once again why people come from across the world to celebrate local artists at PVDFest each year.” 

Since debuting in 2015, PVDFest has featured over 4,600 artists, performers, and curators, and has brought in hundreds of thousands of attendees during the festival weekend, providing artists opportunities to showcase their art. Returning to PVDFest this year for their eighth year is Pnuehaus, a Rhode Island-based interdisciplinary art and design studio that specializes in ephemeral art installations. At this year’s festival they will offer installations that deeply engages intrinsic qualities of materials to express their physical and dynamic nature.  

“We’re honored to have been a part of PVDFest since 2016,” said Pnuehaus co-founder Matt Muller. “It’s so great to see Providence come together and all the artists who can show their amazing work. From the music to vendors to visual arts, it’s a highlight of the arts in Providence.” 

The PVDFest footprint will be alive with performances, activities and experiences on Friday, September 8 from 5PM until 8PM, Saturday, September 9 from 12PM to 7PM, and Sunday 12PM to 6PM.  Applications for craft vendors, performers and visual artists will remain open through June 20 and sponsorship applications will remain open.  

“The innovative twists we are adding to this year’s festival exemplify why Providence has become a global destination for the arts,” said Director of Art, Culture, and Tourism Joe Wilson Jr. “We are working hand in hand with the city’s talented artists to showcase our arts culture in a way that has never been done before.” 

This year’s PVDFest is made possible with support from the following sponsors to date: Providence Tourism Council, The Boston Globe Rhode Island, ProvPort, Waterson Terminal Services LLC, iHeart Media, WPRI Media Group, Delta Dental, Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, Cornish Associates, First Bristol Corporation/Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, The Foundry, Withum, Half Street Group, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Providence Monthly, Public’s Radio, Regency Plaza/Chestnut Hill Realty, Rhode Island Monthly. 

More information about the announced headliner performances can be found in the press kit and a full schedule of events will be released in the weeks leading up to the festival. For additional information on ways to participate in PVDFest 2023, visit pvdfest.com 

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