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Night of Ideas 2022: Patti Smith, Andre Dickens, Leïla Slimani, Joe Baker Join 250+ Artists and Cultural Visionaries in Marathon of Public Programs and Performances Across 19 US Cities

Villa Albertine

By Villa Albertine

Registrations for Villa Albertine’s free in-person mega-event are now open.

Villa Albertine today announced the lineup for the US edition of Night of Ideas, a free annual nocturnal marathon of philosophical debates, performances, readings and more, hosted in 19 cities across the country this May. The US joins the international community in celebrating this global event, which is being hosted in over 100 countries and is coordinated by the Institut français.

In this period of intense geopolitical upheaval in Europe and around the world, compounded social and political challenges are producing deep crises, particularly in Ukraine. The Night of Ideas creates a rare and powerful forum, enabling 250+ artists, researchers, and community leaders to engage with each other and the public on these core issues of our time. The theme, “Where Are We Going?” sparks conversation about war and the future of global democracy, on the stage of pandemic recovery and economic turmoil. It also leads to important discussions about community-based climate action, about concrete steps toward equity and racial justice, and more.

Night of Ideas is the continuation of a long-running successful collaboration with Brooklyn Public Library, alongside both new and returning partners in 18 other cities. The bespoke programming will welcome a wide diversity of speakers and performers, including participants in Villa Albertine’s inaugural residency program. Highlights include: musician, author, and poet Patti Smith, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Goncourt Prize-winning Franco-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani, Lenape Center Director Joe Baker, philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour, resident musician and composer Sélène Saint-Aimé, author and urban thinker Ryan Gravel, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center Rama Yade, Poetry Foundation President Michelle Boone, Director of the Umass Energy Transition Initiative Erin Baker, resident numerical analyst Aurélie Jean, Los Angles Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Faber, political scientist Claire Sagan, food author and chef Adán Medrano, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Erin Harkey, ethologist, neurologist, and psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik, resident multidisciplinary artists Loo Hui Phang and Joseph d’Anvers, and Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Meta.

The US edition of Night of Ideas is organized by Villa Albertine, in partnership with 50+ institutions, including the Ukrainian Institute of America. Alongside its public programs, Villa Albertine, a new cultural institution launched by the French Government in fall 2021, is pioneering a new model for customized artist residencies – hosting more than 60 artists, thinkers, and cultural professionals across 10 major US cities annually.

“Night of Ideas is an act of global solidarity, with the conviction that problems are best solved when we collaborate across institutions, disciplines, and countries. I am very proud that this is the first major event of Villa Albertine,” said Gaëtan Bruel, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the US and Director of Villa Albertine. “We are honored to welcome such an impactful lineup of speakers and performers across the country, including some of Villa Albertine’s first artists and thinkers-in-residence. It’s a rare opportunity to gather so many creative, socially-conscious projects under one roof, in the service of philosophical exploration and cross-cultural connection.”


Select program highlights at the iconic location in Brooklyn, as well as featured events from across the country, are below. Explore the full city-by-city program–the largest to date–and register at


New York City – Saturday, May 21 

5pm-12:00am @ Villa Albertine New York and the Brooklyn Public Library 

Embark on an original on the road happening from Villa Albertine headquarters in Manhattan to Brooklyn Public Library, where 60 members of the public will enjoy a private 1:1 discussion with the artist or speaker sitting next to them on the bus. All will then gather for a marathon of talks, musical performances, screenings, and lively forums, headlined by a performance from Patti Smith. Programming includes Goncourt Prize-winning novelist Leïla Slimani, Director of the Lenape Center Joe Baker, Chief AI Scientist at Meta Yann LeCun, political scientist Claire Sagan, and more.  

Presented by: Brooklyn Public Library. 


Atlanta – Saturday, May 14  

6pm-12am @ The Woodruff Arts Center 

The first ever Night of Ideas in Atlanta will invite intellectuals, artists, and entrepreneurs to embrace themes of city and culture in this moment of crisis, and ponder Where Do We Go from Here?. The night will offer a rich multidisciplinary program, combining debates, art installations, screenings, and a DJ set with the participation of Atlanta Mayor André Dickens, Diane Landais and Miryam Houali of the French video game collective Accidental Queens, and Ryan Gravel, urban thinker, designer, author, builder, speaker, and original visionary of the Atlanta Beltline. 

Presented by: City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and The Woodruff Arts Center. 


Boston – Friday, May 6 

6pm-11pm @ Harvard University’s William James Hall 

Leaning on issues inspired by the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, participants will focus on the concepts of anticipation, decision-making, and resilience in the context of ever-growing uncertainty. Highlighted speakers include ethologist, neurologist and psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik, Boston University Professor of Emerging Media James Katz, Director of the Umass Energy Transition Initiative Erin Baker, and theoretical astrophysicist Fabio Pacucci. 

Presented by: Harvard University, Bunker Hill Community College, and International School of Boston. 


Chicago – Thursday, May 12 

6pm-11pm @ The Chicago History Museum 

Engage with the past, present, and future of the city through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion and hear from a variety of experts, including Erin Harkey, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Poetry Foundation President Michelle Boone, Villa Albertine resident Chayma Drira, and social justice artist Tonika Johnson.

Presented by: Chicago History Museum, France Chicago Center at the University of Chicago, and Alliance Française Chicago. 


Houston – Thursday, May 5 

5pm-10pm @ Literal Publishing 

Speakers from Texas and Mexico–including gallerist Yvonamor Palix, food author and chef Adán Medrano, and Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center–will gather for central debates on Texan Mexican culture, Latino creators’ expression of identity, objectivity and polarization in different communities and sustainability and pollution in the Rio Grande.  

Presented by: Consulate of France in Monterrey (Mexico), IFAL – Instituto Francés de América Latina. 


Los Angeles – Monday, May 9 

6pm-9pm @ The French Residence 

Visual and sound art performances will unfurl alongside debates centered on environmental action, democracy and citizenship. Speakers include journalist Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Faber O’Connor, scientist and Villa Albertine resident Aurélie Jean, sound artist Bill Fontana, and many more. 

Presented by: Consulate General of France in Los Angeles.


Miami – Thursday, May 19 

6pm-10pm @ FilmGate Miami 

Paired with a diverse lineup of film screenings, the night will address botanics as a means of resistance to the exploitation of nature and cultural uprooting. Among the speakers: traditional Caribbean medicine practitioner and member of the Tramil project Laurent Jean-Pierre, Christopher Baraloto, associate director of Florida International University’s Institute of Environment and Casey Zap, Co-founder of the Center for Subtropical Affairs.

Presented by: FilmGate Miami, Letra Urbana, Books and Books, Center for Subtropical Affairs, Tramil, Alliance Française Puerto Rico, Alliance Française Miami Metro.


New Orleans – May 18  

7:30pm-9pm @ New Orleans Jazz Museum

For its first in-person edition the New Orleans Night of Ideas will engage with creatives across disciplines to explore how they have adapted their creatives processes in recent years. What impact have the pandemic, social justice movements, and international crises had on their artistic practice and the dissemination of their work? The evening will feature performances and talks from a diverse lineup of artists, including Villa Albertine residents Sélène Saint-Aimé, Joseph d’Anvers and Loo Hui Phang, as well as painter James Michalopoulas and photographer L. Kasimu Harris.  

Presented by: New Orleans Jazz Museum, Hilliard Museum, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Alliance Française of New Orleans. 


San Francisco – Tuesday, May 17 

7pm-9pm @ KQED headquarters 

Join interactive community challenge sessions and small circle conversations with local community leaders, experts, and organizers. Together, they will ask how we can reimagine the social contract that binds our shared political, environmental, and cultural future. Featured speakers include Anuradha Mittal, Founder and Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, Sharaya Souza, Executive Director & Co-Founder of the American Indian Cultural District, Jacqueline Fabius, Chief Operating Officer at QBI – UCSF, and more.  

Presented by: KQED, San Francisco Public Library, SFMOMA, and California Humanities.


Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, May 11 

6:30pm to 9pm @ Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 

Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center Rama Yade, Co-Director of the University of Virginia’s Democracy Initiative Laurent Dubois, European Union Ambassador to the US Stavros Lambrinidis, and others will discuss common goods, the question of governance and how we can make our democracies stronger. 

Presented by: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. 



Night of Ideas was first introduced to the US in New York City in 2015 by the French Embassy, and further developed through an ongoing partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library. Today, Night of Ideas is a nationwide event, drawing tens of thousands of attendees across the country.

This year’s U.S. program, the largest yet, is made possible with major philanthropic support from the Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

In partnership with

Institut français

The Institut français is responsible for France’s international cultural program. Supervised by both the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and by the Ministry of Culture, it promotes French culture abroad through cultural exchange initiatives. Operating in a space where the arts, intellectual exchange, cultural and social innovation, and linguistic partnerships interact and intersect, it is also responsible for promoting the French language and the sharing of works, artists, and ideas all over the world. The Institut français is one of Villa Albertine’s main French partners.

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The Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation

The Foundation’s work has included underwriting of such public spaces as Washington’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Holocaust Museum; and in New York the new Statue of Liberty Museum. In connection to French culture and history, it has underwritten efforts at Notre Dame restoration, the Louvre Endowment, and to Holocaust studies including the 1988 Academy Award winning documentary, Hotel Terminus, the Life and Times of Klaus Barbie. 

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is one of America’s oldest grantmaking foundations, established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

FACE Foundation

FACE Foundation is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting French-American relations through innovative cultural and educational projects. In partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, FACE Foundation promotes artistic, literary, and educational exchange and collaboration between creative professionals from both countries. With additional corporate, foundation, and individual support, FACE Foundation administers grant programs in the performing and visual arts, cinema, translation, and secondary and higher education, while providing financial sponsorship to French-American festivals and other cultural initiatives. FACE Foundation focuses on new and recent work of living artists and the promotion of bilingualism and the French language. 


TV5MONDE is a global French language entertainment network that showcases premium films and programs from across the world. With more than 1.5 million viewers nationwide in the USA, TV5MONDE is a renowned leader in French language entertainment.

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Medias Partners Nuit des Idées

Night of Ideas International Media Partners / Partenaires Medias Internationaux pour la Nuit des Idées

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