Director of Community and Educational Programmes
Toronto Harbourfront Centre
She claims … “great staff” and “great volunteers”. I also asked her how they keep the festival “fresh” … after all, the event is now 15 years old. Melanie tells me … “fresh people. We have an excellent team that keep striving for new ideas, new art and new festivals.” She says she and her staff like to “keep in touch with what’s going on in the city and beyond”. I laughed a little and asked Melanie … “aren’t you the people” (being the Harbourfront Centre is a major contributor and continues with its efforts to awareness and culture). Perhaps they are, but that doesn’t stop Melanie and her amazing team of their never ending search for new and innovative ideas and activities to offer to the public. Melanie acknowledges that Toronto offers a large variety of activities and entertainment at different locations, but points out that the Harbourfront Centre brings them all at one location. The KUUMBA festival is just one example of them putting everything together in an interesting way. It makes for a “diverse” experience for a great number of people. Speaking of many people, I know Harbourfront Centre is large, so I asked how many people were they expecting over the February celebration. Melanie told me that they expect approximately 10-12,000 people. Don’t worry, Melanie tells me that they have enough facilities (restrooms, parking, accessibility and food) for everyone. They will have great signs and volunteers roaming around (with badges on) for anyone needing assistance. There is just too much to tell you all they are planning, so again, Melanie suggests you check out their website. This way you can plan your day depending on you and your family’s likes and interests. The diversity of KUUMBA activities and events is amazing! You can listen to a reading by Shane DeRolf (poet) who will read “The Crayon Box". Children then get to create their own portrait after hearing the poem. In the workshop area, children can create their own Carnival head pieces. This is then followed by “the most vibrant, colourful and festive carnival parade in town”! I’m excited to see the Jaivah Nourel Expose Dance Troupe dance to traditional and contemporary music. They specialize in dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Southern Africa and Egypt. Then you might want to visit the Black in History Visual Arts Exhibitions! One music performance that I’m also looking forward to is, Amadou Kienou. He will be performing a varied repertoire of music that consists of songs, dance, and musical soundings of the Mandingue rhythms. Amadou was born in Ouagadougou at Burkina Faso to a tribe from the Mandingue Empire. His singing is referred to as Praise Singers (Griots) from father to son. KUUMBA and the Harbourfront Centre offer live performances of music, dance, visual and literary arts, workshops, film and free crafts and activities for children and families. Don’t forget to bring your ice skates! KUUMBA offers a fantastic ice-skating party called “Soca on Ice – with Dr. Jay De Soca Prince spinning hot Caribbean rhythms that will surely heat things up!” Melanie and her team at Harbourfront Centre have worked hard to schedule the activities so that there is little to no conflicting events. As an example, Melanie suggested that a visitor might want to participate in the family activities offered from 1-5, but also catch a film from 2-3 in between. With their schedule, this can be done! Speaking with Melanie has been a wonderful opportunity! You see ... if you ask the organizers … you too can get the "THE INSIDE SCOOP”!