The first annual ‘By the People’ festival brings huge installations and free performances to every quadrant of D.C.

The first annual ‘By the People’ festival brings huge installations and free performances to every quadrant of D.C.

June 21, 2018 | Sadie Dingfelder, Washington Post Express

Austin has South by Southwest. Aspen has the Aspen Ideas Festival. Now, D.C. has its own artsy, zeitgeist-capturing event. The inaugural By the People festival, running Thursday through Sunday, sprinkles interactive installations and innovative performances across five hub locations in the city.

The festival, organized by local nonprofit arts and business incubator Halcyon, is expected to attract about 10,000 participants, according to Halcyon CEO Kate Goodall. Part of the draw will be the massive, colorful art installations, but the organizers also hope to get people talking about fraught topics, like climate change and immigration.

“The goal is for people to come together around the art but also … have informed discourse and feel that sense of similarity to each other,” Goodall says. “I’ve begun thinking of it as an arts and empathy festival, an arts and democracy festival.”