Festival releases initiatives to celebrate culture in person and online

By Nicole Brownlee

Folklorama released on Thursday that homes, offices, and schools can now host small cultural performances to increase morale and celebrate diversity./FOLKLORAMA

Folklorama announced Thursday the multicultural festival is still happening this summer, but they’re swapping venues for homes, workplaces and schools around the city.

Christena Wright, Folklorama’s marketing and communications coordinator said they have been working since the end of April on a way to safely deliver cultural performances, cuisine and experiences during COVID-19.

“We know the festival has such an impact on the community at large and people really look forward to it,” said Wright. “We just want to bring some light and happiness out there so people can still take pride in their culture.”

Manitoba’s Phase 2 plan allows the summertime festival to be celebrated as a part of four new programs.

The first three – Folklorama At Home, Folklorama At Work and Folklorama at School – feature customized meals, entertainment and education workshops that can be booked through Folklorama and a festival representative will attend events to ensure government regulations are followed. Wright said further details about the new programs will be released in the coming weeks.

“I think everyone’s craving some kind of celebration and positivity,” said Wright, 24. “We can bring that to people and let performers do what they love.”

The fourth program, Folklorama At Play, will be announced later this summer as COVID-19 restrictions loosen.

After COVID-19 hit in March, organizers launched Folklorama Feed on Instagram to showcase diversity through performances and tutorials sent in from festival ambassadors.

Wright said Folklorama Feed and the organization’s monthly newsletter, Llama Tales, helps highlight dedicated community members.

“We felt it was important to continue celebrating different cultures and give our members a platform to showcase their talents,” said Wright.

Payal Tailor dances at Folklorama’s India Pavilion in Aug. 2018./FOLKLORAMA

Folklorama asked past performers, artists and volunteers to contribute songs, dance performances and recipes for Folklorama Feed. After seeing the initial posts, dancer Payal Tailor was inspired to send in her own video.

“I absolutely love sharing my culture and when I did a live Bollywood dance on Instagram, I knew I had to reach out to Folklorama,” said Tailor.

Tailor, 23, has been involved with Folklorama and the Indian pavilion for ten years and said she hopes to continue contributing to Folklorama Feed.

Daniel Schink, a former ambassador for the Russian pavilion, said Folklorama Feed is a good initiative to continue the organization’s legacy.

“I think Folklorama raises awareness for different cultures and brings the diversity of Winnipeg together, which is even more important during a time of crisis,” said Schink.

Daniel Schink (far left) stands alongside fellow Russian pavilion ambassadors during Folklorama’s August 2019 festival./ DANIEL SCHINK

Schink, 21, has been involved with Folklorama for over 15 years and said he looks forward to the festival every summer.

“Even though we won’t be celebrating in the same way, I think it’s good that Folklorama is trying to show people that they can still get involved,” said Schink. 

Schink said if the Russian Pavilion was hired for an event this summer, he would help in any way he can.

Folklorama, the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival, has been celebrating Winnipeg’s diverse cultures for 50 years.

To learn more about Folklorama Feed and the festival’s new programs, visit Folklorama.ca or @folklorama on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.