City seeks community involvement for return of Intercultural Arts Festival

The city has put out an open call for local performers, restaurants and volunteers as the Intercultural Arts Festival is set to return in September for the first time in over two years. 

A news release from the city says that the event will be free and family friendly, running from 11:30 AM to 6 PM on September 6 at Confederation Basin. 

The festival will include performers, food vendors, workshops and a fashion show, but in the release the city says they desire more members of the community to become involved in order to make it a success. 

"After two years on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to have this incredible celebration back in our community. But for this event to be a success, we need you," said Jon Hayter, Kingston's Supervisor for Special Events and Marketing.

"Kingston is home to people from all backgrounds and who possess immense talent. Please, bring your skills and your passion to the Intercultural Arts Festival."

Historically the festival has been handled by Kingston Immigration Partnership, but this year and going forward the city will be working alongside a long list of cultural organizations to plan the event.

Manager of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Muhammad Ahsan says that in events like this one, the City of Kingston is looking to take a more hands-off, supportive role in helping them come together.

He says recent Emancipation Day demonstrations came together in a similar way.

"This is a new approach that we have started applying for the last few months," Ahsan said.

"The city was involved in planning and executing but the community leaders from the black community of Kingston were the ones who were guiding us through the process... We are now trying to shift the experience off of public offices telling the communities what they can do for them versus asking what the community's expectation is and hen delivering it as per our capacity."

There will be no fees for cultural organizations or restaurants to register as Ahsan says the City recognizes the last two years have financially burdened the food industry in particular and prevented cultural organizations from properly fundraising. 

Ahsan says Kingston boasts a diverse array of talents and restaurants, and the festival's goal is to help get their name out there. 

"Our hope is we can showcase a variety of cultural aspects of Kingston and showcase some diverse talents locally as well as some other talents from other parts of Ontario," Ahsan said.

"The hope is that this would be an opportunity for cultural organizations to get back on their feet."

He added that while out of town performers will be accepted as needed, with the amount of applications already received he doubts there will be more than one or two performer slots filled from outside of Kingston. 

Submissions are being accepted until August 8.

Interested performers and restaurants can contact [email protected], [email protected] or call 613-546-4291 ext. 1715. 

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative