Deep Ellum Arts Festival

Deep Ellum Arts Festival responds to big changes in the neighborhood

Deep Ellum Arts Festival responds to big changes in the neighborhood

Deep Ellum Arts Festival 2014
Deep Ellum Arts Festival is back, with a new location. Photo by Mark Thompson

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival is back, but with a shift to the right. For 2016, the multiday art and music extravaganza is moving three blocks east.

The location change is a reflection of the vitality of Deep Ellum, says festival founder Stephen Millard.

"When we first started this event, there wasn't one business open on Main Street," he says. "In the last several years, the area between Good Latimer and Malcolm X has exploded. We never want to block the entrance of a business, and as a result, we've lost a lot of real estate for our vendors.

"So we've been working with all of the businesses trying to find a solution. Moving it seemed like a natural resolution, to put it in area that's not competing."

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival first debuted in 1995 as a one-block street party and has since become a mega-event with visual and performing artists. Where it used to reside on Main between Good Latimer and Hall, now it will occupy six blocks between Malcolm X and Sons of Hermann Hall.

Millard is especially excited about a "village" area set up on the lot on the corner of Main and Malcolm X, with food vendors and artists making art onsite.

"It starts at Malcolm X, which becomes the gateway and allows us to use this giant parking lot that connects Elm and Main streets together as the Deep Ellum Village," he says. "In the evening, it'll be the main performing stage area. So instead of closing Malcolm X, we'll close Hall Street."

There'll be more than 100 performances, including bands and solo musicians representing a variety of genres, on four outdoor stages and two new indoor stages at the Sons of Hermann Hall.

Among the more than 130 bands already announced include Brave Combo, Rivethead, and Rebel Jazz Alliance.

Fitting into the April Fools' Day theme, entertainment will include street performers, jugglers, and other whimsical characters, plus a Poetry Slam open mic and a speakers corner, where registered speakers can wax a topic of their choice.

The festival opens on Friday, April 1, at 11 am, with a special lunchtime preview for downtown office workers. Sunday at noon sees the return of the annual Deep Ellum Pet Parade, which joined the festival in 2015. Registration begins at 11 am at the dog park on Trunk and Commerce.

"We hope to keeps the synergy going in Deep Ellum," Millard says. "Still bring in thousands of people. We're hoping that businesses will continue running special activities.

"The festival brings in thousands of people, who stay about three hours, then walk down to see the rest of Deep Ellum."