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SATURDAY PARTY: PIFA Street Fair on Broad Street.

April 26, 2013

PIFA2013aText by Morgan James. Images by Timothy Becker.

If you have been busy spring-cleaning or jogging or jamming or standing in line at a Rita’s or Shake Shack, let us remind you that the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) has been revving its engines the past month with a spectacular series of events.

PIFA, a production of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, is a month long celebration of Philadelphia’s rich arts culture. It is the Kimmel’s segue from the classics to the current.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the whole city to go on an adventure with all of the artists who live here,” said Jay Wahl, Director of Public Events.

PIFA2013bLike the inaugural 2011 PIFA, which celebrated turn-of-the-20th-century Paris [Recall the towering replica of the Eiffel Tower in Kimmel Center lobby?], this year’s festival has an equally enthralling theme. In 2013, the festival goers were asked If you had a time machine…

“We asked all the artists in the city to take us somewhere in time,” explained Wahl. “To find a moment that was important to them.  And to find a way to interpret it through their medium, be it dance or theater or photography. And to use that moment in time to explain where we’ve been together as a city and where we’re going on that journey.”

Earlier this month, the Robert Glasper Experiment chose the date September 28, 1976, which marked the release of Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. Glasper, along with special guests Lalah Hathaway, Eric Roberson, and Stokely Williams (of Mint Condition), performed an out of this world tribute before a packed Verizon Hall.

After the evening show, well, after every evening show, the Kimmel’s “Time Travel Plaza” comes alive twice a night with a high-energy musical performance, directed by Wahl. Every Tuesday through Sunday, throughout the duration of PIFA, the musical “Flash of Time” has erupted onto the lobby to the amazement of patrons, already fascinated by the 100-foot interactive time machine enveloping the space.

Wahl added, “I think that’s what PIFA really does. We turned the Kimmel into a real public space with lots of art happening where people can drop in and get to see something they wouldn’t have seen and get to know an artist, a band, a theater performer. I think it’s a great opportunity for us all to come together and celebrate the cultural riches of our city.”

You hear? The Kimmel is for us. For the city. Passersby who gaze longingly unto the lobby behind glass doors. Go in! There’s free wi-fi. Plenty of $1 Garces donuts to go around and a ground floor restaurant in the works. Indulge.

If the month has slipped by, PIFA is still underway. The culminating event of the 31-day festival is the Street Fair, which takes place Saturday from 11 AM – 7 PM. Back in 2011 it shut down South Broad Street with over 200,000 attendees. Had to be there. It was awesome. Believe it.

Don’t miss out. Sun, fun, Philly Bloco, a Garces Beer Garden, and a Ferris Wheel? Why not?

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