A city is defined by its street culture. One can hardly imagine buzz centers such as Paris, Rio, New York or Tokyo without a clear vision of the vibrant activity alive at ground level. When streets are closed to traffic — as often happens in Europe — cultured, curious and cosmopolitan citizens are drawn to discover the unique joys of busking, vendors, open-air markets and outdoor stages offering democratic entertainment for all.
In 2005, Cleveland Public Theatre founder James Levin and I launched the Ingenuity Festival of Art and Technology to showcase the best art and technology in the region, stimulate economic activity and have some fun — all while shutting down traffic and throwing a street party that attracted more than 75,000 people.
I’ve stepped aside from day-to-day involvement, but the show goes on again July 13 through 16 in the Village District, a zone along Prospect Avenue from Ontario to East Sixth streets and East Fourth Street from Euclid Avenue to The Q. Confirm show times at www.ingenuitycleveland.com, but here’s a sampling of each day’s events.
Kent State University professor/composer Halim El-Dabh’s “Symphony for 1,000 Drums” will shake downtown at 5 p.m. Then sax genius Ernie Krivda directs “The Orchestral Omnibus” on the Main Stage from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Gabriel’s Horns light up the United Church of Christ’s Amistad Chapel, the festival’s classical music venue, starting at 8 p.m. Cleveland performance art troupe SAFMOD will turn heads at 10 p.m. in the Cool Cleveland McCrory Artspace, followed by tranny cabaret from Baby Dee at midnight. And Cleveland video maven Kasumi performs at the May Co. Stage & Exhibit Corridor at 11 p.m.
The East Fourth Street Stage features music all day, from Jay Scott Franklin at 1:30 p.m. to Audible Threat at midnight. This year’s alley stage is the East Fifth Street “WAVE” stage that offers Americana roots music from Me and Willy at 2 p.m. and alternative folk from Green Label at 7:30 p.m. Opera Cleveland presents “American Favorites” at Amistad Chapel at 8 p.m. Art and tech exhibits take place all day at the May Co., the Sincere Building, 631 Prospect and the KSU Urban Design Center.
Ingenuity collaborates with Cuyahoga Community College and turns the Main Stage into the Tri-C Stage for the Recording Arts & Technology’s “Crooked River Groove” program. The Young Audience Stage comes alive with the Cavani String Quartet at 1 p.m., Karamu House’s “Hip-Hop Aesop” at 4:30 p.m., Verb Ballets at 5:30 p.m., and Destination Funk Dance Company at 9:30 p.m.
The Main Stage is rocking when roots meets gospel with a collaboration between The Prayer Warriors and Cats On Holiday at 4 p.m. Cleveland Shakespeare Festival shows “King Lear” at 3 p.m. and Karamu presents“Julius X” at 7 p.m., both at the May Co. “GruveLab,” a collaboration with NASA and video artists takes place every day at 1:30 p.m. at the May Co. Ongoing at the Goldfish Army-Navy store is “Catch 22,” an interactive sound sculpture linking Cleveland with Buenos Aires and Seattle.