Precedent leaves other groups at risk

On behalf of the Veselka Ukrainian Dancers, I have been co-ordinating a not-for-profit multicultural dance festival, Heritage DanceFest, since the Inter-Cultural Association cancelled Folkfest five years ago.

Heritage DanceFest has been more successful than we imagined, both from the performers’ and the audience’s perspective.

Folkfest used to be the one big, public venue that groups like these could count on each year, not only to share and celebrate their culture but also to recruit new members, of all ages, for their groups. Where else can these groups perform to achieve those means?

So Veselka decided to re-create that opportunity for all those groups. We sourced out funding through sponsors and grants and found the best venue we could for the funds available to us.

We have had fantastic local support not only from the public but also from people such as the mayor who hasn’t missed a year yet and joins us on stage for the welcome ceremony. Gordy Dodd also became Ukrainian for the day, dressed in Ukrainian costume. and was introduced as Gordy Doddchuk (he’s our biggest sponsor).

But what if the City decides that this is such a good thing they’re going to take it over or put it out for an RFP?

What guarantees do we have that this won’t happen, like it did to John Selkirk?

ICA could not sustain and manage Folkfest. The City didn’t jump in to help out all those groups – we did.

Given the resources that we have solicited ourselves and the fantastic response both from groups and the public, it’s a sure thing for years to come.

Why wouldn’t the City want in on that? How can we keep control of it?

Wendy Swan

Heritage DanceFest 2011