First Thursday Festival


What: First Thursday festival

When: Thursday, March 2nd, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM

Where: Arts Plaza in front of the IU Auditorium.

It should be a nice spring evening to take a break from work or studies and enjoy the campus and its creative community.

We started this tradition last fall with dozens of student and faculty performers and thousands of guests from campus and the wider Bloomington community. We are excited to kick off the spring season this week with a celebration of Women’s History Month, featuring dozens of IU’s fabulous women artists and scholars and many local and international performances and exhibits. The festival is free and open to the whole Bloomington community.

Some highlights include:

Main Stage: We’ll kick off the evening with The Vallures, a crowd-pleasing singing and dancing group from Bloomington that performs a mix of classic 60s hits and original tracks. Up next is Ladies First, IU’s very own award-winning a cappella group. Lily & Madeleine, the nationally acclaimed indie folk duo from Indianapolis, will round out the set with their warm and uplifting harmonies.

Acclaimed Novelist Ha Jin: Ha Jin’s work explores the tensions between the individual and the family, the modern and the traditional, and personal feelings and duty. His novel, Waiting, won the National Book Award for fiction in 1999, as well as the PEN/Faulkner award. He also wrote the story collection The Bridegroom, which won the Asian American Literary Award, and two collections of poetry. He will be speaking at the Grunwald Gallery at 8:00.

Eskenazi Museum of Art and the Lilly Library: Step inside the Eskenazi for new tours, games, and scavenger hunts. Stop by the African Student Association’s booth for Nigerian Face Painting, experience the art of henna with the Indian Student Association, or examine the critical relationship between women and the arts during a special lecture by Tavy D. Aherne. The Lilly Library is celebrating women collectors and their treasures with an impressive and rarely exhibited display of children’s literature and a collection of over 16,000 miniature books.

World music and Bloomington bands: Tour the world of music with Kaia, an award-winning, Bloomington-based band of seven women performing in over 25 languages. Enjoy Finnish folksongs, African-American gospel, and a thrilling array of other musical styles. Next, ExWo (Explosive Women) takes over. Another local group, ExWo combines jazz, pop, funk, and neo-soul to create an exciting blend of original songs and reimagined classic hits.

Plenty of good food! Grab a blanket and eat dinner around Showalter Fountain. Chef David Tallent has prepared a tribute to famous female cooks and chefs such as Edna Lewis, Elizabeth Davis, and Alice Waters. The delicious menu options include southern fried chicken, chocolate mousse, and goat cheese crouton. As always, we’ll also be giving out free popcorn!

Crafts, trivia, history, and games: Visit the Toast Tent for an edible craft, or work with Collins students to turn your own body into geometric shapes. Recreate famous paintings with props and photographs from the faculty and students of the Art History department. Or stop by the Mathers Museum tent to welcome spring with flower making and other hands-on activities. Delve into Hoosier HERStory!, an exhibition honoring two hundred years of women’s contributions to IU history and culture. Visit the Feminist Student Association for engaging conversations on the contributions that black women have made to social justice

The First Thursdays festival offers great opportunities for you to explore the breadth of the arts and humanities on campus and in the community. It’s an easy-going community event where you can enjoy dinner on the lawn by our Acoustic Tent, explore stunning exhibits at the Grunwald and Lilly, or dash from tent to tent to discover everything there is to offer. Whatever you choose, we invite you to celebrate Women’s History Month and the amazing creativity of the IU community with us this Thursday.

To learn more about our performers and events, check out our website at If you’re interested in performing at a future event, write to us at We’re always happy to support both professional and amateur artists, whether your talent is music or magic tricks. And be sure to follow us on Twitter for updates on First Thursdays and all Arts & Humanities Council news.

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