Joeline Connellan photo

We updated our mission and vision statements in early 2022 to reflect a rededication to and a refinement of our founding intentions, as well as a desire to be more explicit about what we do.

Vision: The Guilford Performing Arts Festival is a vital and sustainable leader in the southern New England arts community. Its innovative programming contributes significantly to the cultural richness and economic vitality of the Connecticut Shoreline while fostering a greater sense of community and appreciation for the diversity of human expression and life.

Mission: Commission new work in the performing arts and produce a biennial festival that combines high-quality live performance, experiential education and social outreach to entertain, inform, enrich and unite the community—presenting depth and breadth in American arts and culture; giving a platform to diverse voices; introducing audiences to new ways of seeing, thinking and being; and using the performing arts explicitly to change lives for the better.


We started the Guilford Performing Arts Festival in 2017 to energize the Connecticut Shoreline every two years with a free, multi-day, multi-venue festival that provides great entertainment, innovative education and positive economic, social and cultural impact.

In each of our first two seasons, we presented as many as 70 free events in some 15 Guilford venues. We’ve staged concerts, plays, readings, workshops, discussions and spontaneous happenings on and around the picturesque and historic town Green.

Covid-19 upended our plans in 2021 but offered a unique opportunity to commission new work by Connecticut performing artists and premiere it at the festival. We’ll present six world premieres in dance, drama and music, created for the most part during a tumultous year of pandemic shutdown, cultural flashpoints and political turmoil. The artists will also teach workshops and master classes, as well as take part in community conversations about their work and its inspiration. We expect the festival to return to its usual scale in 2023.

The Guilford Performing Arts Festival is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization managed by an all-volunteer board of directors. With the exception of some contracted expertise in marketing and production, the organization is staffed and the festival staged entirely by volunteers. We couldn’t do this without the tremendous support of a wonderful, creative, arts-loving, tight-knit and generous community.