River To River Festival Offers Free Music and Dance, Theater and Walking Tours
Starting today (Friday, June 9), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special 22nd edition of the River to River Festival that explores themes of reclamation, resistance, and interconnectivity.
The festival was created in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as a way to celebrate the resiliency of New Yorkers, especially in Lower Manhattan, and has been held every year since. In post-Covid New York, River to River aims to reprise the role it played for Lower Manhattan after 2001—bringing art Downtown to inspire. The festival is completely free and open to all, running through Sunday, June 18.
River to River is a multidisciplinary showcase, offering performances and exhibitions in notable public spaces around Lower Manhattan and on Governors Island. Unlike typical art exhibitions, there is no one central venue or event—it is meant for people to happen upon it in their daily activities. This year, for LMCC’s semi-centennial, there will be special performances from alumni of the organization. Craig T. Peterson, LMCC’s president, said, “I’m super-excited to be back out in the street… River to River is very experimental [during a time of] slow investment in experimentalism.”
When asked for a highlight of this year’s festival, Mr. Peterson said, “One of the most popular things this year is Lotto Royale,” a two-day program this weekend of one-on-one performances in which each audience member is paired up with a performer. The event is an initiative from the T.E.N.T. collective, which launched in Berlin in 2022, and is being recreated specifically for the River to River festival.
The opening reception will take place this evening, 6pm to 8pm at Fulton Market (Front and Beekman Streets), at the exhibition El Camino: Stories of Migration, curated by Nuevayorkinos (“New Yorkers” translated from Spanish), a digital archive and multimedia project documenting and preserving the City’s vibrant Latino and Caribbean culture. The reception is free and open to all.
The week will wrap up with a performance from Natu Camara, a Guinean multi-instrumentalist in Battery Park City. From first to last, the River to River festival aims to be a celebration of New Yorkers and a testament to LMCC’s commitment to the arts in Lower Manhattan. But the centrality of art and the River to River festival to Downtown cannot be taken for granted. Mr. Peterson said, “The funding for [River to River] is shifting and so we have to reimagine what our outward presentation capacity is.”
Other artists featured this year include AUNTS, Marta Blair, Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, New York Arabic Orchestra, Nuevayorkinos, Antonio Ramos, Washington Street Historical Society, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, and Andros Zins-Browne. Click here for a complete listing of River to River events.