We must ensure that Folklorama survives


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This article was published 23/11/2020 (918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Arts festivals and cultural events such as Folklorama are all-important to our city but have unfortunately been affected by COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our lives but its effects might be the most obvious on community events. There are countless celebrations that bring Winnipeg together each year — my annual Canada Day fireworks at Tyndall Park, the Filipino Street Festival in the Maples, the Blue Bombers’ next winning season …

One of the most significant among these is Folklorama. I think many people in Winnipeg take this incredible event for granted. Most of us probably don’t realize that it’s the largest multicultural festival of its kind in the world. Tourists travel from far and wide to visit for good reason.

Supplied photo Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux (far right), pictured here with Cindy Lamoureux (back, left), MLA for Tyndall Park, at the Pearl of the Orient pavilion at a past Folklorama, is working to ensure cultural groups survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can tour the world in your own backyard here in Winnipeg, and it is often my first recommendation to people visiting Winnipeg. We have held Folklorama for over 50 years, and its impact on our city and province has been significant. We see it every summer for two weeks, but for many of the volunteers, from pavilion co-ordinators to youth creating and practising their performances, it consumes their time year-round.

Folklorama contributes $13 million to Manitoba’s economy and engages over 20,000 volunteers every year. Losing this festival has a tremendous impact on our hotels, entertainment venues and countless other hospitality industries.

More than that, it’s the primary source of funding for most of our ethnocultural communities. Winnipeg has an incredibly rich diversity of arts and cultural groups. Our heritage dance groups and musicians are unmatched around the world.

Many of these groups rent or own halls for their rehearsals and community events. Normally their Folklorama pavilions make enough money to pay the rent and fund classes year-round.

This year they’re struggling. Many groups fear they stand to lose not only their buildings but the ability to pass down their heritage to the next generation.

Once a legacy like that is gone, it can never be rebuilt. I value our heritage very highly, and I feel that none of us should stand by and watch this happen.

Federal programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy have kept countless businesses and non-profits afloat. Folklorama is no different but this still isn’t enough. I’ve heard loud and clear from our community that these groups need more, specific support from our government.

This past month I brought Prime Minister Trudeau and Steven Guilbeault, the minister of Canadian heritage, to the table with Folklorama and representatives from our cultural communities. We helped them understand how important these festivals are for our enjoyment, for our economy, for our history, and for our future.

We all have a role to play in ensuring these events, and our cultural groups, survive.

I promise to keep doing my part in Ottawa. Here at home we can donate, volunteer, and attend their creative virtual events.

Kevin Lamoureux

Kevin Lamoureux
Winnipeg North constituency report

Kevin Lamoureux is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North.

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