The Coastal Futures Festival is an environmental arts festival created by UVA’s Coastal Futures Conservatory (, a collaboration between artists, humanities scholars, and scientists with the Virginia Coastal Reserve, a long-term ecological research site supported by the National Science Foundation. Through various forms of listening, the Conservatory integrates arts and humanities into the scientific investigation of coastal change in order to deepen understanding and stimulate imaginations. The Coastal Futures Festival is presented in collaboration with UVA’s Resilience Institute, the Virginia Coast Reserve long-term ecological research station, the Department of Music, and the Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures. The Festival opens on September 19th with an arts exhibit that responds to Caribbean coasts in crisis. On September 21, it moves to the Eastern Shore for the opening of a sound art exhibition at the Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo, VA. The Festival returns to UVA for talks and performances on Monday, September 23, culminating in a concert featuring Grammy and MacArthur Award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and a keynote address by ecoacoustic sound artist Leah Barclay on September 25th. Featured residents include environmental philosopher Michael Nelson, Leah Barclay, UVA alumnus and composer Erik DeLuca, Arctic scientist Christina Bonsell, and Eighth Blackbird. In addition to bringing these distinguished guests to UVA, the festival showcases work by UVA faculty, students and alumni whose interdisciplinary research focuses on sound and coastal environments. Through a series of performances, talks, installations, and collaborative work sessions, the Coastal Futures Festival brings together art, film, and multimedia music that represents global issues such as coastal erosion, sea level rise, and melting ice along with the attendant impacts on human and non-human habitats.

Thursday, September 19th

Coasts in Crisis: Art and Conversation After Recent Hurricanes

Hurricane María and the Puerto Rican Art Museum

12:00-1:30 Hotel A, Global Grounds

Sandra Cintrón, Chief Registrar and Collections Manager of the Fralin Museum will speak about her experience during Hurricane Maria as a staff member at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. This event is free and open to all, but RSVP is required.  

4:00 pm Brooks Hall Commons

Why do the arts matter after a hurricane? In a time of rising sea levels and global climate change, the answer to this question has never been more important. This kick-off event of the Coastal Futures Fall Festival will offer creative ways of addressing environmental disaster by bringing together live music, poetry, photography, painting, and installation art about recent hurricanes from the U.S. South and the Caribbean. The participating artists will perform, display and discuss their work forged out of the experiences common to climate refugees and hurricane survivors: homelessness, forced migration, family separation, food insecurity, and living without electricity or running water. Works by artists from the U.S. South and Greater Caribbean including David Berg (St. Croix, Virgin Islands), Sally Binard (Florida/ Haiti), Jo Cosme (Puerto Rico/ Seattle), Nicole Delgado (Puerto Rico), Alfonso Fuentes (Puerto Rico), and Sarabel Santos Negrón (Puerto Rico).

Friday, September 20th

“ShoreLine” Interactive Documentary Opening, with filmmaker Liz Miller

9:30 am Clark Hall Mural Room

The Shore Line, a collaborative interactive documentary project, is a collection of dynamic maps, visualizations, soundscape and over 40 videos featuring individuals who are confronting the threats of unsustainable development and extreme weather with persistence and ingenuity. Described as “a storybook for the future,” The Shore Line conveys ways that 43 people, living in the urban cities and remote islands of nine countries, have confronted the climate impacts of rising seas and violent storms. By navigating films, interactive maps, databases, and chapters, The Shore Line users learn about the innovative ways that people have managed the effects of climate change. They can navigate by tags, including strategy toolkits, country, threat, and language. Users can also navigate by occupation — activist, architect, artist, biologist, communication, and so forth — this feature allows The Shore Line to locate ways that they might contribute to their own communities based on their own particular skills and talents.

Elizabeth (Liz ) Miller is a documentary maker and professor who uses collaboration and interactivity as a way to connect personal stories to larger timely social issues.  Liz is the co-founder of the Concordia Documentary Centre and has served on the board of the International Association of Women in Television and Radio. She has directed award-winning documentaries including – The Shore Line (2017), En la casa (2013), Hands-on (2014) and The Water Front (2008). She is the co-author of has published several articles and book chapters on collaborative and interactive documentaries.

Saturday, September 21st

Listening for Coastal Futures: Sounding Science Opening Reception

4:00-6:00 pm Barrier Islands Center (Machipongo, VA)

This event features sound-art from musicians working with scientists to understand coastal change. Through individual listening stations, the exhibit features field recordings, data sonifications, and eco-acoustic compositions. Listeners can hear the Eastern Shore anew, and also experience the sounds of coastal change in Australia and the Arctic. Exhibit remains open through December.

Monday, September 23rd

“Land, Coasts, Oceans” talks and presentations on the Arctic

8:30 Coffee and introductory remarks  

09:00-12:00 Arctic Bridges Session I: Land, Coasts, and Oceans 

12:00-13:30: Lunch  

Coastal Futures Conservatory Presentations and Performances

3:00-5:00 pm Pan-University Institute (1400 University Ave)

The Coastal Futures Conservatory integrates arts and humanities into the investigation of coastal change. Conservatory researchers work with scientists at the Virginia Coast Reserve and with scientists working in other parts of the world. The Conservatory brings the arts and humanities into conversation with the sciences in order to open new ways to listen to and experience the dynamics reshaping coasts. In doing so, we hope to stimulate imagination and deepen public understanding. This lab session features keynotes by Michael Nelson and Erik DeLuca.

Coastal Futures Concert

8:00 pm, Old Cabell Hall

Eighth Blackbird with Rivanna String Quartet

Music by Leah Barclay, Lemon Guo, Matthew Burtner, Peter Swendsen, Fjiola Evans, John Cage, Christopher Luna-Mega, Jonathan Holland

Wednesday, September 25th

Leah Barclay Keynote Presentation on Underwater Ecoacoustics

2:00 pm, VCCM B11, Old Cabell Hall

Dr. Leah Barclay is an Australian sound artist, composer and researcher working at the intersection of art, science and technology. She specialises in electroacoustic music, acoustic ecology and emerging fields of biology exploring environmental patterns and changes through sound. Her sonic environments draw attention to changing climates and fragile ecosystems; the works are realised through live performances, interactive installations and site-specific interventions, and often draw on environmental field recordings, data sonification, live streams and immersive sound diffusion. Her work has been commissioned, performed and exhibited to wide acclaim across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Peru, Colombia, Europe, India, South Africa, China and Korea by organisations including UNESCO, Ear to the Earth, Streaming Museum, Al Gore’s Climate Reality and the IUCN. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and has directed and curated interdisciplinary projects across the Asia-Pacific and USA.