The Vision Festival is the world's premier festival of experimental music (typically free jazz/avant-garde jazz), art, film and dance, held annually in May/June on the Lower East Side of New York City from 1996 to 2011, in Brooklyn from 2012-2014, and returning to Manhattan in 2015. It usually consists of between thirty and sixty performances, spread out over a number of days. Inspired by the 1984 and 1988 Sound Unity Festivals, it was a direct outgrowth of the seminal but short-lived Improvisors Collective (1994-95). In 1996, the collective's founder, dancer-choreographer Patricia Nicholson Parker, staged the first Vision Festival at the Learning Alliance on Lafayette Street, and subsequently founded the not-for-profit Arts for Art, Inc to organize the festival on an annual basis, along with other events and concert series throughout the year. In addition to Nicholson Parker, other members of Arts for Art's Board of Directors include: Hal Connolly, Patricia Ali, Jo Wood Brown, Whit Dickey, Judy Gage, Patricia Nicholson Parker, William Parker, and Patricia Wilkins.
Over the years, the festival has taken place in numerous venues, including the Angel Orensanz Center for the Arts, the St. Nicholas of Myra church basement, the New Age Cabaret (formerly known as the Electric Circus), the Knitting Factory, St. Patrick's youth center, CBGB, Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, the Abrons Arts Center, Roulette and Judson Memorial Church. Festival organizers sometimes encounter difficulty booking performance spaces, largely because of the Vision Festival's rejection of commercial sponsors. Booking difficulties are often alleviated by arts-foundation grants, however.