Jorge Elorza

RIPR FILE

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to convince more college graduates to stay in the capital city. He’s launched a new initiative to reach out to young people.

He said the goal is to make living in Providence desirable to millennials.

“Per capita, we have the largest number of college graduates of any state in the country,” said Elorza. “These are the entrepreneurs, the civic leaders and they’re the employees of the future. So it’s a priority of mine to make sure that we retain them here.”

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.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is embarking on his first major arts and tourism initiative since taking office in January. The first annual Providence International Arts Festival goes on all this weekend. City officials have grand plans for the event.

Days before -- and a mile from the festival site -- a group of local artists and musicians are busy sawing away at two-by-fours, and nailing them together at the Columbus Theater. They’re building a stage. Alternating wood stains create a red and brown striped pattern.

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John Altdorfer / Squonk Opera

Providence kicks off the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival Thursday. Mayor Jorge Elorza has touted the event as one of his first major initiatives to boost tourism and the arts in the capital city. The four-day festival includes public art installations, theater, and lectures all around downtown Providence. It will also include dozens of musical performances from across the globe.

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