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Events In Open Air

Events In Open Air Cause Button Museum
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Events In Open Air button back Cause Button Museum
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E-I-O-A! (union bug)
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Illustration of a green arrow with a gust of air coming out of its tail end.  Black text below illustration on a white background with irregular green polkadots.

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Phyllis Yampolsky, an artist and grant-funded Festival Design Consultant at the New York City (NYC) Parks Department, designed and organized Events in Open Air (EIOA). EIOA was a festival with a preview plus five events at various NYC parks between August-September 1966. It was part of NYC Parks Commissioner’s, Thomas Hoving, happenings' initiative to decrease negative perceptions of unsafe NYC parks, increase access to arts, and inspire a sense of community and inclusiveness through play and games. Contemporary artist, Allan Kaprow, coined the term “happening” in the 1950s to describe performances breaking boundaries, relationships, and traditional notions between the gallery space, visitor, and artist.

Yampolsky called happenings, “experimental public games” (NYC Parks, 1966b, “Festival Aug. 26”). EIOA consisted of two types of group games open to everyone: communal art using art and collaging supplies and field games featuring obstacles along with other smaller events. These experimental public games encouraged people to use all senses throughout their experience. The NYC Parks Department and George Delacorte sponsored EIOA, while other organizations (e.g. Azuma, Inc., Magic Markers, Inc., and more) provided supplies to run the festival.


NYC Parks Department. (1966a, August 1). [Press release about EIOA on August 3, 1966].

NYC Parks Department. (1966b, August 25). Festival of experimental public game begins Friday, August 26, 1966 [Press release].

Warsh, M. (2019, February 21). Happenings: Art, play, and urban revitalization in 1960s Central Park. The Gotham Center for New York City History.

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