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Believer Fest announces its initial 2019 lineup

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The stage at the opening night of Believer Festival 2018, at Red Rock Canyon.
Photo: Geoff Carter

The Believer Festival, named Las Vegas’ best festival in the Las Vegas Weekly’s 2018 Best of Vegas issue, returns for a third year April 25-27. As in years past, Believer Fest is bringing together not merely a who’s-who, but a who’s-what of cultural figures across a variety of artistic disciplines.

This year’s lineup includes comic and musician Reggie Watts; filmmaker and television producer Jill Soloway (Transparent, I Love Dick); Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian; singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen, of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down; Crossfade Lab curator Josh Kun; Black Lives Matter Canada co-founder Janaya Khan; Ahmed Naji (Using Life), who was unjustly imprisoned over a work of fiction; Andrew Leland, producer of The Organist podcast; projection-mapping artist Craig Winslow; Mira Jacob, creator of the illustrated memoir Good Talk; ascending authors Lesley Nneka Arimah (What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky), Lolita Hernandez (Making Callaloo in Detroit), Kiese Laymon (Heavy: An American Memoir), Valeria Luiselli (Faces in the Crowd) and Tommy Orange (There There); poets Hanif Abdurraqib; Natalie Diaz and Eryn Green; and local visual artist and podcaster Justin Favela, with even more participants expected to be announced as the festival grows closer.

That said, if past years are any indication, no one writer, singer or artist is the star of Believer Fest. The point of the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute-sponsored festival isn’t authors vs. artists vs. musicians, but how much these disciplines have in common in terms of making you feel and think. Fittingly, the theme of this latest iteration of the festival is “La Frontera”—that’s Spanish for “the border.” Believer Fest aims to delve into this theme beyond the current, surface political level, however, urging attendees to “reconsider borders of our fixed conceptions and rigid ideas.” And as ever, you’ll be doing this reconsidering in some of the most picturesque and unusual venues this town has to offer.

“The Believer Festival is an offering of wonder and transformation to the audience, to the community, and to the friends we welcome from out of town,”Joshua Wolf Shenk, BMI’s artistic and executive director, said in an emailed statement. He adds that the festival’s mission is to “divine a creative oasis” … as in “discover[ing] something by intuition.” If past festivals are any indication, that oasis will draw scores of thirsty readers—so the minute tickets go on sale February 15, you had best go to believerfest.org and grab yours.

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