Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview with Melanie Fernandez... (Part One)

Melanie Fernandez
Director of Community and Educational Programmes
Toronto Harbourfront Centre

It is with great excitement, that I present my inaugural “THE INSIDE SCOOP” Blog article. I was privileged to spend some time talking with Melanie Fernandez, the Director of Community and Educational Programmes at the Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto. The Harbourfront Centre is preparing for the 15th year of their “KUUMBA” a celebration of Black History Month featuring, an all-ages festival celebrating African Diaspora. This will be an exciting, fun-filled event for the entire family. It takes place during the month of February on the weekends of February 5-6 and February 12-13, 2011. I didn't know exactly what African Diaspora meant, so I investigated it on the Harbourfront Centre’s wonderful website (http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/) and learned that “African Diaspora” means the movement of Black Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world. I also found out from Harbourfront website that … “During the first weekend of Kuumba presented by , Black in History, you will witness the historical footprints in time by the Indigenous Black Canadian and American experience. The second weekend, Carnival on Mass, witnesses the celebration and fusion of art, history and the energy of Caribbean culture culminating with playing mass”. All you need to know about this festival you can find on their website and Melanie recommends that you do explore it to find the activities best suited for you and your family.
The being "THE INSIDE SCOOP” though, is really what I am excited to share with. This was a rare opportunity to ask some questions that many of us may wonder about. I wanted to learn a little about Melanie Fernandez as she takes on her mammoth role as a Director of the Coomunity and Educational Programmes at Harbourfront Centre and as the organizer of the KUUMBA festival. This is, as I mentioned, the 15th year of this festival. Melanie has been with the Harbourfront Centre for the past 8 years. The KUUMBA festival is one of longest running festivals at the Harbourfront Centre. Melanie department produces the “FREE” summer programmes for which she is very proud. Melanie is interested and invested in the diverse communities in the city and beyond. To quote Melanie … “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to offer free quality programmes to the public. This is one of Harbourfront Centre's most important mandates”. Melanie believes in promoting the richness of cultural awareness, including a whole range of communities. I asked Melanie, with all this intense focus and awareness during the month of February, was it difficult at other times throughout the year to maintain the excitement, growth and ongoing contributions to the culture. She says … “how we work here is really important!" We discussed why we even need Black History Month and celebrations. She states that it is just a condensed period of time. February is a condensed month but the Harbourfront is committed to promoting Canadian/African and cultural awareness throughout the year.
(To be Continued)

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