By Mathew Pratt
After the COVID-19 pandemic took over the mitten, an idea sparked for a new multi-day festival to take place in downtown Grand Rapids that will combine the love for music, art, science, and technology all into one event.
The Confluence Festival will take place at the Calder Plaza from Sept. 23-25. The event is free and open to the public. The festival will feature live performances from Robert DeLong, Pat Lok, and Old Man Saxon, along with other local musicians. They will also feature a multi-sensory experience throughout Calder Plaza with the use of digital projection, motion graphics, and audio technologies.
On top of that, there will be a Maker Expo, presented by Kendall College of Art and Design, to showcase a diverse group of hobbyists, engineers, crafters, and artists to celebrate their work and love for art, science, and engineering. The event will also feature an Innovation Showcase where it will spotlight high-tech startups from different communities across the region.
Brian Cohen, managing partner of Confluence CCG, developed the vision for the festival and brought it to life. During the pandemic, Cohen saw it as an opportunity to create an idea that would be new for the region and would bring people together again.
“The main idea of the festival is to explore what’s possible when innovation within the worlds of art, music, science, and technology converge,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he wants to provide an experience to the general public that will hopefully produce a positive outcome when all of these things are combined into one event. When finding artists that fit the idea in expressing issues like transportation, energy, employment, healthcare, and equity, through their work, Cohen wanted to find people that “straddle the worlds of art, music, and technology.” On the other hand, his colleague, Becca Guyette, reached out into the community to find people that will be fit for their Future Innovator zone, Innovation showcase, and Maker expo events.
With national talent being featured on the lineup, Cohen is proud to create an event that is still free and open to the public.
“To be able to see a lineup like this for free, along with the level of production we’re planning for the stage, is very unusual.” Cohen said.
Though the events take place outdoors, festival organizers encourage social distancing and mask-wearing.