by Charles Kruger

With literally 100s of professional performance companies, the San Francisco Bay area is undoubtedly a major center for locally produced performance art. But did you know that San Francisco also hosts a signifcant international ats festival? You should.

The 15th Edition of the San Francisco International Arts Festival will soon be coming to the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture where dozens of artists and companies from all over the world will take up residence from May 24th through June 23, offering dance and circus performances, concerts, performance-based art installations and theatrical presentations.

“Down By The Riverside: 50 Years Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King” is the theme of this year’s festival. Along with numerous USA artists, many other countries are represented, assuring that this International Fesitval lives up to its name. There are companies and/or performers from Lithuania (Teatr Arturo Artemias), Japan (Yohei Miyake and Baobab), Mali (Orchestra Gold with Mariam Diakité), Argentina (Pablo Estigarriba), Macedonia (Igor Josifov), South Korea (Ambiguous Dance), Canada (Cirquantique), and Taiwan (Pao Chang Tai).

In the years since its founding in 2003, the Festival has hosted well over 300 arts ensembles including visitors from more than 50 countries many of whom are rareliy seen performing in the United States.

This year, the the festival is unabashed about its political message and its call to activism. The organizers write that the Fesitval looks to “inspire a new generation of American to become engaged and activie citizens.” Along with the various performance events, the Fesitval will host numerous seminars and workshops culminating in a full day’s conference tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 26, featuring a wide range of topics and speakers on the theme of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy.

If previous years are any indication, may of the performances scheduled will be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see some of the most interesting performance artists in the world right here in our own city. (See some reviews of previous Festival performances here, and here.)For further information and to purchase discounted early-bird tickets for the 17th Edition of the San Francisco International Arts Festival, click here.


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