Director of Community and Educational Programmes
Toronto Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre is renowned for their free ongoing artist and literary programmes. Last year, Harbourfront Centre’s “big idea” was to programme events from a more diverse and global perspective. Melanie, being a cultural director and curator, states that curatorial ideas cross. Basically, what I believe Melanie was explaining, is that just because this festival “KUUMBA” takes place just in February, it is an ongoing venture designed to educate and promote Black History Awareness and Culture… “This is not just a single event, otherwise it would be a token, we have worked really hard over the years (40 approx.) to not just be a token.” I was at the Fortune Cooking Festival this past summer and I remember that the “Marketplace” was very diverse. I asked Melanie if this was part of their year-long efforts. She confirmed that I was correct in my observations and that they try to offer “a rich experience, diversity wise”. If you ever get the chance to visit Harbourfront, a stop at the Marketplace is a must! Getting back to the KUUMBA festival itself, I asked Melanie if she relied on volunteers to help make this festival such a success. I must say that I was surprised by her answer! I had no idea the magnitude of their operation. Harbourfront Centre relies on over 4,000 volunteers over the course of the year, with about 100 to help at KUUMBA. Being a volunteer myself, I am aware of the importance of making sure the volunteers are appreciated and cared for (they seem to keep coming back if you do). Melanie says that they just wrapped up their Christmas party, this being one of the four Volunteer Appreciation celebrations Harbourfront offers its volunteers over the year. They even have a Volunteer Newsletter, copies of which can be found on their website. Here’s more SCOOP. I asked Melanie how on earth she is able to pull off such an amazing event as KUUMBA?
(To be continued)