Multicultural Fest at Halifax seaport to star 500 performers, 30 cultural groups
By a Staff Reporter
The 26th Nova Scotia Multicultural Festival 2010 gets underway on July 2, 3 and 4 at a new site. The event will be staged at the Halifax Waterfront (Seaport) opposite Pier 21.
International, regional and local entertainment groups are scheduled to converge on the Halifax Waterfront for the event. Among them are Maria Osende—flamenco dancer, Afro Musica, Vanassa Parsons of Asia and Nu Gruv, Canada Malay Association, Los Chaskis—the Argentine band, MAM—the French trio and others.
The tens of thousands of people that will converge at the site are expected to witness and enjoy a panorama of multicultural performances, delectable foods and exhibits.
The festival’s food booths typically host Chinese, Korean, African, South East Asian, Latin American and European food options.
According to the organizers, more than 500 performers from over 30 or more cultural groups will provide the daily entertainment at this festival which involves an investment of about $500,000 to stage.
The multifest, whose theme this year is “Together, Charting a New Beginning” was traditionally held at the Dartmouth Alderney Landing. But this year it has moved to the Halifax Waterfront due to scheduling conflicts with Canada Day and the Canadian Naval Centennial celebrations.
“The shift of the festival site to the Halifax Waterfront is just as well,” says Ifti Ilyas, the Executive Director of MANS (the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia) the organizers. “Our visitor survey shows that about 58 per cent of our guests come from Halifax.”
But, of course, there are challenges and costs involved in this move. “The site has been offered at no cost by the Halifax Seaport Authority,” Ilyas confirms. But there are other costs.
“We have to bring in a stage, a grey water unit, install a generator for the lights,” says Heather Ritchie, the Festival Coordinator. “On the other hand, we cannot pitch tents in the ground and instead have to rent cement blocks to keep the tents up.”
Despite these costs, there will be no increase in the gate fees, says Carol Terry, Chair of the Festival. The entry fee will be $6 per adult.
New sponsors have joined the fray this year, says Stephanie Collen-Brooks, the Communications and Fundraising Coordinator. Among them are the Westin Hotel, the Port Authority and Nova Scotia Power.
A new program on the festival agenda is the “Multifest Youth Songwriter’s Contest” – a pilot project restricted to HRM contestants, says Ritchie.
Schools in the HRM are being urged to have their youth in the 15-19 age group participate. Ritchie says a jury of industry judges will select finalists after evaluating the quality of lyrics and the music composition.
The deadline for submissions is June 7. The submissions may be made in any language for as long as a translation in English accompanies it. The submission can be made on DVD and must be accompanied by a $5 entrance fee and a parent waiver.
Finalists will get a chance to perform on the main stage and the winner will be awarded a Press Kit that would possibly launch the winning candidate into a music career.
What does the festival hope to achieve? Terry says it has exposed Nova Scotians to the customs and traditions that peoples of the world have brought with them to Canada. “It has broadened their understanding.”
Ilyas says it tells newcomers there is a wider community of people like them and that feeling gives them a sense of belonging. “So they feel at home, stay back and benefit the Nova Scotia economy.”
He says the “Come from Away” attitude has to change. “Life today has broadened the world view. And that is what the multifest seeks to achieve.”