Over the last 50 years, Folklorama has become the longest-running and largest annual multicultural festival of its kind in the world. With the cancellation of major summer festivals in Manitoba to abide by COVID-19 health precautions, the pandemic has paused this run.
Yet, respect and appreciation for multiculturalism is needed now more than ever with marches against racism taking place globally and protesters collectively demanding changes to policies that give rise to societal inequalities.
With 40 pavilions representing unique ethnic communities within Manitoba, Folklorama serves as a valuable vehicle that creates respect and appreciation for multiculturalism through its mission of celebrating diversity and promoting cultural understanding.
While visiting pavilions is not possible this year, the Folklorama operations team has reimagined Folklorama for 2020.
Tanya Williams, Folklorama’s director of marketing and communications, outlines new programs offered this year.
A virtual experience is just a click away. Vibrant ethno-cultural performances may be caught online on both Instagram and Twitter at any time of day or night. These feeds are constantly updated to showcase recent cultural performances in Manitoba.
For a more immersive, customized experience, you can now take Folklorama to your work, school or home. Just select your entertainment and choose your cuisine. Folklorama will work within your budget to tailor an hour-long cultural event just for you within a couple of weeks.
Many senior homes have taken part in these programs, including River Gardens residents who enjoyed the Franco-Manitoban entertainment of TiBert le Voyageur.
“Folklorama is very COVID-careful when it comes to planning these events,” Williams said. “All artists are screened pre-performance.”
Event attendees are also required to fill out a screening sheet, which provides a safety level to protect both performers and patrons.
For larger events, Folklorama at Play is planned for the fall when government public health regulations become less restrictive and more information will be provided at that time.
With so many youth becoming involved in social protests and even leading human rights activities, cultural awareness has become a vital part of education. Folklorama plans to work with reopened schools to customize cultural experiences that follow the Manitoba curriculum.
With Folklorama being the only Canadian festival to offer an in-home version of the festival, more than 60 bookings have been made as of early August. Reasons for bookings include bringing Irish culture to a 50th anniversary party when the planned Ireland trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 and recreating the excitement of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival at a backyard party.
“The reasons people book these parties are truly beautiful,” Williams said.
These programs have been so popular that Folklorama has made them permanent, running 365 days a year.
Even with this source of income, many ethno-cultural communities are challenged to fund projects that sustain their culture, especially in light of lost pavilion profits this year. To provide financial support, Folklorama has announced the creation of the Folklorama Cultural Preservation Fund to preserve cultural history for many years and future generations. Assistance will be provided for music programs, outreach programs, language lessons and cultural summer camps, to name a few. Donations to this fund are accepted on Folklorama’s website.
At a time when it’s most needed, the reimagined Folklorama offers new programs to continue the tradition of breaking down cultural barriers to value diversity.
For more information about Folklorama’s programming, please visit folklorama.ca.