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LMCC gives $8,000 grant to The Village Trip festival

The Village Trip is getting a boost from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which has awarded it an $8,000 grant. The festival is one of 287 projects — out of more than 600 applicants —  chosen to receive money, a 30 percent increase from last year, when The Village Trip first applied.

LMCC’s mission is to “serve, connect and make space for artists and communities.”

Founded in 2017 and launched the following year with friends’ and neighborhood support, The Village Trip celebrates arts and activism in Greenwich Village and the East Village/Lower East Side — honoring the people and the events that have shaped life far beyond New York City and the United States for more than 150 years.

The Klezmatics closed The Village Trip in September 2022 with a free concert in Washington Square Park. (Photo by Jamie Kalikow)

According to its organizers, “The festival is a celebration of a unique community that’s had a profound impact on all kinds of music, literature, theater and dance, as well as on the fight for social justice for all – labor rights, women’s rights, Black rights, gay and trans rights.”

“It’s a thrill and an honor to be awarded an LMCC grant against such stiff competition,” said Liz Thomson, the British author and journalist who founded the annual event.

Thomson’s lifelong obsession with the social and cultural history of the Village led her to found the festival when she discovered that nothing similar existed to celebrate one of the world’s most unique and storied neighborhoods.

“I guess it was a crazy idea for someone living in London,” she said, “but locals were encouraging of my ambition, if somewhat skeptical that it could be realized! I’m especially grateful to Judy Paul, owner of the fabled Washington Square Hotel — part of the history and heritage the festival seeks to celebrate — for becoming our first sponsor and home base.”

In February, Liz Thompson and Cliff Pearson, above, put on an event at City Winery recalling how Beatlemania swept New York City and the country in 1964.

The Village Trip began as three-day festival, its signature event — then as now — a free concert in Washington Square Park, headlined in 2018 by Suzanne Vega and in 2019 by Steve Earle. By the time the festival returned in 2021, after the pandemic canceled the event for 2020, Thomson had been joined by West Villager Cliff Pearson. As joint artistic directors, they worked across the miles to create a festival that would “rally the Village” after COVID.

The result was nine days of events, including a joyous concert in the park featuring Bobby Sanabria and His Multiverse Big Band, with special guests Janis Siegel and Antoinette Montague.

In 2022, The Village Trip featured the Klezmatics in Washington Square Park and extended its reach to embrace the East Village. It is now firmly established as a two-week, family-friendly, rainbow-colored festival.

“Each year, we craft The Village Trip to tap into the rich legacies of the Black, Latino, Asian and Eastern European communities in Greenwich Village,” Pearson said. “At the same time, we showcase emerging talent to demonstrate that our neighborhoods are still places of creativity.”

The Village Trip 2024 will run from Sept. 14 -28.

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