Amen Jafri, Canada Arts Connect Magazine
If you flipped through the average Ottawa tourism brochure, you would be hard-pressed to find anything mentioning the burlesque performances and poetry slams that regularly sell-out in the city. You might learn, however, that in 2010 Ottawa was named the IFEA World Festival & Event City. Ottawa takes pride in its year-round festivals. Approximately 50 exist to-date, with new ones springing up every few years.
Why so many? According to Barbara Stacey, Executive Director at Ottawa Festivals, it’s because Ottawa’s unique environment – its diverse culture, its many partners (federal/provincial/municipal, NGOs, corporate, etc.) – simply opens up the opportunity. Loretto Beninger, an Ottawa researcher and academic who has extensively studied the city’s arts policy, offers an alternative perspective. She says the city uses an antiquated 1950s model to support local arts, narrowly defining what “culture” means: it’s either “people pirouetting in tutus or people throwing paint on a canvas.” Under this model, festivals are prized because “[they’re] temporary, [they’re] intense and [they’re] for a limited time period…a bit like the circus.”
Read more on the Canada Arts Connect Magazine website: Festival City