Robin Schatell, Executive Director of the River-to-River Festival

See Duncan Sheik Live July 15 at the River to River Festival 2010. Photo Credit Crackerfarm

I had the pleasure to talk with Robin Schatell, Executive Director of the River-to-River Festival, a series of music/dance/film-you name it-that takes place from June to August at various public venues, from Chambers Street to the southern tip of the city and across the island. Now in it’s 8th season the R2R shows are free and just the thing to do to keep cool this summer in NYC.

What strikes me most about the festival is how many different types of artists you have. What does the festival look for when booking acts?

As a free festival, we are committed to presenting a broad sweep of programming (music, dance, film, site-specific art, theater, family etc.) and to showcasing celebrated artists/acts, whether they are up and coming or established.

Can you describe the venues and what makes them special?

Downtown New York is our venue so to speak, from Chambers Street down to the Battery and across the island from the Hudson River to the East River and everything in between; the winding streets and historic parks and plazas of the Financial District. Our waterfront parks are some of the most beautiful spots in the city, with lawns and piers overlooking New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.  Our indoor Winter Garden at World Financial Center is a unique open space with huge windows that give you a panoramic view of the Hudson River.

All the shows are free to attend. Where does the money come from that supports the festival?

The festival is supported through a combination of public funds, corporate and media sponsorships, with American Express being the founding sponsor, as well as in part through our presenting partners.

Do you see River To River Festival as a replacement or as an addition to the summertime pier and park concerts that seem to have lessened over the years?

River To River Festival has proven itself to be a much welcome addition to New York’s free summertime festival circuit, and over the past eight years, has established itself as a world-class performing arts festival must-go. The festival format brought together under one banner, many of the parks and pier concerts that were happening downtown prior to 9/11, added many new programs and events to the scene, and in turn, has helped to define the area as a summertime cultural oasis.

Looking forward to these shows? I sure am. In the upcoming months we will keep you updated on the goings on, but go to River To River for more info. See you at the shows.

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