The first Providence International Arts Festival, held last weekend, was such a success that Mayor Jorge Elorza is moving ahead with plans for another such celebration next year, said mayoral spokesman David Ortiz.
Thousands thronged a downtown transformed into a giant music stage and pedestrian arts mall last Saturday and Sunday. ``It met our expectations and we’re looking to grow it in the future,’’ said Ortiz.
The weather cooperated both days as the sun washed over downtown. ``We did get lucky,’’ acknowledged Ortiz.
Elorza ```has high ambitions for’’ next year’s event. A campaign theme of Elorza’s, the arts event cost about $700,000, with all but about $150,000 coming from private sources. Amica Insurance, Citizens Bank and Fidelity Investments were significant contributors.
Elorza said in an interview that he plans to bring the arts community together with Providence residents to determine when next year’s event should be held. The mayor mentioned that it could be held next summer or sometime in the fall. He estimated that about 100,000 people visited the capital city during the events and the Saturday evening WaterFire.
Kennedy Plaza, Washington and Westminster Streets were turned into stages for music, dancing and various events, including skateboard park. The crowd was diverse and trended young. Local restaurants and food trucks provided ample dining options.
``It is an interesting event that’s good for the city,’’ said Ruth Ferrazzano, owner of Murphy’s Deli, which set up a stand to sell hamburgers, hot dogs and beer. ``It’s definitely a younger crowd.’’
Josh and Nancy Miller, owners of Local 121, also had an outdoor food and beer stand.``It was a great weekend,’’ said Josh Miller, a Democratic state senator from Cranston. ``It created a nice vibe in the city and brought a lot of people downtown.’’
Washington Street assumed the cast of Yawkey Way near Fenway Park with a queue of food and beverage vendors and people flocking to dance venues and music stages.
``The music is just amazing,’’ said Elizabeth Willey of Attleboro, Mass, who attended along with her 21-month old daughter. ``I’ll definitely come again if they do it next year.’’
(Rhode Island Public Radio was one of the non-monetary sponsors).