The Dumbo Arts Festival Will No Longer Return

Dumbo Arts Festival 2012

Dumbo Arts Festival 2012

The organizers for the DUMBO Arts Festival announced yesterday that they have decided to not return (see below for the full announcement or go to After 18 years, the festival showcased the creative people in the area and grew to attract more than 200,000 visitors to Dumbo, but they felt that the DUMBO Arts Festival outgrew the original mission.

We asked Lisa Kim, the Festival Director what the DUMBO Arts Festival meant for Two Trees, the founding sponsor of the festival which took over the lead sponsorship and organization of the festival in 2009. She told us, “The DUMBO Arts Festival was a celebration of the neighborhood and was an incredible showcase of the creative spirit and innovation that has characterized this area from its industrial past to today. We are grateful to everyone who has been a part of the event over the years. Our focus and dedication to support the art community has only strengthened over the years and I want to assure everyone that with this decision Two Trees support for the arts in DUMBO and beyond will only increase.

We are finding ways to respond to the needs of the art community through our rent subsidy and studio programs and we are committed to presenting quality long term projects and programming for DUMBO throughout the year.”

We liked visiting artist and exhibits at the DUMBO Arts Festival each year, and it’s sad to see it go, but can understand the tough balance of showcasing artists as a grass roots initiative and commercializing the event.

We asked Ms. Kim about the now vacant Galapagos Art Space building at 16 Main Street, who told us that “The Galapagos Art Space building will remain an arts building – it is being converted into street level gallery spaces for the DUMBO galleries. The First Thursday Gallery walk will have a new and expanded route later this spring.”

Here’s the full statement from Lisa Kim, Festival Director and Frank Riley, Executive Producer:


After an amazing 18-year run, the annual DUMBO Arts Festival will not be returning this year. It is with heavy hearts that we bring you this news, which was not an easy decision to make.

Founded in 1997 as the Art Under the Bridge Festival by DUMBO residents Joy Glidden and Tyson Daugherty, the festival was initially established as a grass roots artists’ initiative designed to attract people to experience art in DUMBO in order to preserve the neighborhood as a springboard for new art and ideas. Glidden went on to found the DUMBO Arts Center, which was steward to the festival from 1998-2009. With DAC’s announcement to end the festival in 2009, founding sponsor Two Trees Management Company stepped in and took over lead sponsorship and organization of the festival.

Over the past five years, with an incredible team of supporters, artists, dedicated staff, and volunteers from around the world, we worked to showcase extraordinary art from a growing list of local and international artists. We’ve had an incredible run and brought beautiful moments of art to a huge audience. At the very least, we hope we have pushed artists and the public to think more broadly about art and to find it in the most unexpected of places. It has been an honor and a thrill to oversee such a massive celebration of art.

But as the festival grew and grew–more than 220,000 visitors flooded the neighborhood for the festival weekend last year–it became clear that we could no longer mount the festival ourselves without commercializing it in a way that didn’t feel right. We were getting too far from the original mission of the festival. As a result, in consultation with the organizing team, we have elected to end the festival and refocus on how best to allocate resources to support an active, year-round DUMBO arts community.

Thank you all for your support and participation over the years, and we hope to see you soon–not just for one weekend of the year. Stay tuned for news of future events and projects and be sure to visit the artists, galleries and cultural groups that keep DUMBO an arts destination year round.


Lisa Kim, Festival Director
Frank Riley, Executive Producer

Photo courtesy of, and by Jane Kratochvil

Photo courtesy of, and by Jane Kratochvil

{Prior ‘Dumbo Arts Festival’ posts}