SummerStage 2018 brings a new partnership with a 3-year-old celebration of borough diversity -- and unity: La Isla Bonita Staten Island Summer Festival.
SummerStage Executive Artistic Director Erika Elliott says, "This year, we have taken it a step further to work with the local organizer, La Isla Bonita Festival, to co-curate the Saturday, July 21, show featuring Las Cafeteras, M.A.K.U. Soundsytem, Ibomba (DJs Ushka and Beto). We are thrilled to present SummerStage in Staten Island and look forward to all of the shows this weekend."
La Isla Bonita was germinated as a series of public artworks created by Colombia-born, S.I.-based artist Lina Montoya, as part of her LMProject.org. In June 2014, the first piece of this series was installed at Richmond Terrace and Jewett Avenue: "Mariposas Amarillas" -- 18,000 yellow butterflies along the Terrace to represent migration as a symbol of a community's evolution.
In 2015, LMProject and local arts initiative ISLA partnered to create a summer festival on the North Shore with the help of the City Parks, Partnerships for Parks and a California organization Sol Collective.
"This event was inspired on an ideal version of Staten Island; it represents a new vision for this place," co-founder Montoya says.
The inaugural La Isla Bonita included live music performances, spoken word, dance, active sports, education, arts, and crafts, marking an exciting development for cultural programming in the heart of S.I.s rich immigrant community of Port Richmond and particularly at Faber Park.
This year, however, La Isla Bonita joins the official 2018 SummerStage lineup in West Brighton's Corporal Thompson Park.
La Isla Bonita programming is intentionally chosen to reflect "global and local" music, with bands and DJs honoring traditional music while modernizing their sounds for new audiences.
"It is important to make people feel connected and happy, to develop a stronger sense of belonging to their community," Montoya says. "Music and public art are certainly two of the most effective catalysts for community change, so every year we come back with surprises to continue with this effort."
BROADER RECOGNITION = GROWTH: La Isla Bonita co-founder Nati Linares says it's encouraging that Elliott and SummerStage "recognizes our effort to bring a refreshed proposal to the Island that represents different communities."
A keyword here: Grassroots. Such homegrown efforts are crucial "because they encourage community relationships and help them come to life," says Linares.
"With the support and assistance of many community members and organizations, Lina and I have been helping Staten Islanders connect to each other and local activism through La Isla Bonita Festival," she says. "We meet new change-makers on Staten Island every year, and hope the festival can continue being a vehicle for our community to grow and build bridges between the worlds of arts, culture and activism--and just as important, to have fun!
In the coming years, Linares says she and Montoya plan to expand their work around "popular education, youth programming and grassroots-led community organizing to move closer to the Staten Island we know is possible!"
Saturday, July 21: LAS CAFETERAS | M.A.K.U. SOUNDSYSTEM | IBOMBA (DJS USHKA AND BETO)
La Island Bonita Festival join forces with City Parks SummerStage Concert Series for free music and family fun from 4 to 7 p.m. in Corporal Thompson Park.