Even more events for Ideas Fest
ASPEN The Aspen Ideas Festival has been closed to Aspenites, but organizers have more than doubled public events for this year. Tickets sold out quickly to see former President Bill Clinton and to attend an afternoon featuring speakers such as Gen. Colin Powell, newscaster Jim Lehrer, William H. Gates and journalist Thomas Friedman. But – because those two events take place at the music tent – seating on the lawn outside is free to the public. That’s a change from previous years, when Aspen saw the black limos come through town but not much else. Many tickets are still available to the 39 public events this year. Though more is open to the public, it still only scratches the surface of events at this year’s Ideas Festival, which the Aspen Institute will put on July 2-8.There are 280 presenters attending the event, from Friedman of the New York Times to former President Clinton to Karl Rove, President Bush’s right-hand man. There will be senators and Supreme Court justices, nearly all of whom travel with entourages. The nonprofit’s program director, Kitty Boone, said at least one person is bringing seven extra staff to the event. The festival is, in short, no small feat for the institute, which puts presenters who don’t rent a private home or stay in a hotel up at the West End campus. Boone said the insitute contracts for private security but also works with the U.S. Marshals Service, Secret Service and local law enforcement. “We’re not expecting any streets blocked off,” Boone said. “There aren’t any heads of state. Many of the people here are not security risks. Members of government bring their own security contingents, so we feel we’re fairly well-covered. “Boone was most excited about some of the new events this year, especially a few focusing on young people. One is a live video conference Friday evening between Powell and 200 young professionals in each of three cities – Miami, Charleston, S.C., and New York City.”They will be able to listen and ask questions,” Boone said. “Of course, we’ll have people on our campus. That’s kind of a fun thing. It’s taking the Ideas festival and spreading it across the country.”Later Friday evening, musician Wyclef Jean will first perform and then sit on a panel with two AIDS experts. It’s part of a $150-a-person YouthAIDS fundraiser at Belly Up Aspen. Tickets are still available.”It’s an enormous disease in the world, and we’ll try to help raise some money,” Boone said. “Our objective was to try to bring music to the community and create dialogue around an important topic. We’re trying to make it fun, interesting and engaging.”Though many of the returning names are the same as last year – Clinton, Powell, Rove, Madeleine Albright – Boone said about 200 of the presenters are fresh faces. “We’re bringing in a number of people who can address topics we’ve never had before,” she said. “The way we keep it fresh is to rotate speakers and the people who keep coming back are very involved. You want people who are right on the firing line to keep coming back. They always have something to say.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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