For years, the DUMBO Arts Festival was the place to go see cool public art take over a neighborhood for a weekend, as well as chat with Walt Whitman impersonators or get your old clothes fixed in the name of art. We have to put the emphasis on the “was” now, because after 18 years, the organizers of the festival are calling it quits, telling festival fans that the huge crowds it drew raised costs to the point where they’d have to recruit larger corporate sponsors that they didn’t want involved. Sorry, everyone practicing their best Whitman.
Brownstoner had the details of the email that festival organizers Two Trees sent, in which they lamented that the festival had “gotten too far from the original mission,” and would be folding up. Two Trees also said in the email that they were going to take the money they usually use for the festival and put it towards galleries and DUMBO’s First Thursday nights, as well as their subsidized artist studio program and public art at the Domino Sugar Factory construction site.
Still, after 18 years, people aren’t so quick to let go. Borough President Eric Adams told the Daily News that he plans on speaking with artists, organizers and the DUMBO community to see if he can’t help save the festival. Still, with festival director Lisa Kim telling the paper that she doesn’t want to see a brand represented on every corner and even Two Trees’ heft leaving it behind, it seems as if the 200,000+ rampaging art lovers who’d wander the neighborhood in search of sculptures and paintings will have to give this one up.