A story from Lanre Ajayi, Ethnik Festival of Arts and Culture
Updated: May 18
A community is defined by the enormous amount of support for its cultural landscape which is directly proportional to the level of creativity evoked from such an environment. This can be said of great cities of the world where art and other forms of cultural activity are at the center of their development. A lack or shortage of funding for creative initiatives often reflects inadequacies of governance – resulting in stifled creative individuals and organizations that eventually rub off on socio-economic development.
Calgary is a city where creativity thrives and as such, artists, and art organizations in Mokinstis have been blessed to flourish within its courts. This is a result of the understanding of arts in its entirety by the government of the day. It’s such a privilege for individuals and organizations such as ours to be beneficiaries of increased art funding for some of our community initiatives. The impact of such an increase enables us to be intentional and strategic in the curation process of our artistic and cultural work. The past two years have been very devastating for creatives at individual and organizational levels considering the overwhelming pandemic, that rampaged on our communities. It changed the trajectory of how events were organized as well as how attendees perceive such events that keep them entertained and often comforted.
However, funding support helped us to navigate a totally new terrain that allowed for an increase in audience engagements during our 2021 annual Black History Month event – the Ethnik Festival of Arts and Culture. The apparent pandemic challenges changed our brand communication approach in ways that took our festival virtual for the very first time. That same year, we witnessed unusual social and online engagements with over 15,000 attendees and participation (including international participation) over the 2-day period of the festival – a whopping 500% increase in attendance. It opened our eyes to new opportunities and dimensions in event hosting and organization.
We are gradually evolving to accommodate such changes with the hopes for fresher air that is free of pandemic particles, as well as many days of unending prosperity of art and cultural activities that our communities crave and deserve. While we are encouraged by the support from the government of the day, we call for more robust support channelled towards funding the creative industry in ways that showcase the diverse capabilities of our community. We need to keep the oil of our creativity burning, fanning the flame so that the ember of our beautiful light never goes dim again.
It’s a new year with renewed hope and aspirations for our communities’ creative industry and we cannot do what we are endowed with unless a strong governance backing is there to cheer us on. Our responsibility is to rise to the occasion by creating the enabling environment for art and creativity to continue to blossom with adequate and consistent financial support from our government. When you look inward and examine the great potentials abounding within the arts in Calgary, you’ll discover the hidden treasures in our earthen vessels that are strong enough to circle the globe – a potential that can only be brought to life by continual support from our already supportive government.