Danielle Davis ’21 has helped produce the annual Arts First festival for three years, and loved seeing campus explode with art and performance during the three-day spring extravaganza.
So when the Office for the Arts announced that the festival would be entirely virtual in 2021, she saw only the possibility for an even greater — and more inclusive — celebration.
“This is the first time that the experience has been truly global,” said the engineering sciences concentrator and cellist from Long Island.
Coordinated by Marin Orlosky ’07-’08, the 11-day gala kicks off Monday, with programming featuring some of Harvard’s best visual arts, music, dance, and performance. Viewers can tune in for nightly performance fairs hosted live by undergraduate students, and featuring prerecorded videos representing a range of art disciplines.
More than 100 students, faculty, alumni, and affiliates submitted videos and visual art pieces from around the world, including a movement piece staged on formerly Indigenous-held land in Mexico and a violin piece performed in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Fourteen students also submitted work staged in different spaces around Harvard, including the Smith Campus Center, Widener Library, and the Science Center. The Ed Portal created a digital exhibition with interactive elements projected on its building façade in Allston, and the Harvard Art Museums prepared an online exhibition connected to the flora and fauna of the Arnold Arboretum.
“Arts First always feels like a celebration to me — a celebration of creativity for sure, but also of who we are as a community. We have such a rich and truly diverse student body and the range of artistic presentations reflects that diversity,” said Jack Megan, director of the OFA. “Arts First sends the message that everyone belongs.”