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GlobalFest producer Ken Goosen, from left, with Urban Arts director Rebecca Dawn, Brenn Royal (a.k.a. Status Savage) and Tipiskâw Pîsim (a.k.a. Nite Sun) with a piece of art painted during nightly events.
Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

GlobalFest is one of Calgary’s foremost summer festivals, celebrating the city’s flourishing cultural diversity in the midst of an eye-popping international fireworks competition.

But since its start 15 years ago, GlobalFest has come to mean so much more than fireworks and international foods served over five days in August.

“Most people know about the Elliston Park festival in August,” says GlobalFest producer Ken Goosen of the event that attracts more than 110,000 attendees annually.

But GlobalFest’s other initiatives shouldn’t be overlooked, he adds, because of their role in creating a city that embraces diversity. Its youth programs are especially critical to its mission, he says.

“Our hope truly is significant change will happen through youth.”

One program created with that goal is the After School Urban Arts Program.

“It’s spoken word and poetry, graffiti, DJing and dance,” he says. “Basically it offers a lot of different ways for kids of diverse backgrounds to express themselves.”

Whether it’s the Urban Arts Program or the annual Human Rights Forum, GlobalFest aims to bring people of all walks of life together because we all have something to learn from each  other, Goosen says. 

Youth programs in arts, music and sciences provide opportunities to learn about new ideas and our neighbours.

“Kids learning from other kids is very powerful when it comes to diversity,” Goosen says. “Diversity is a learned concept — just as racism and discrimination are learned.”

GlobalFest programs serve as a counter-balance to the tendency to go about our lives in isolation. Children and youth are no different, he adds.

“They really live in three worlds: at school, on the street and at home.”

It’s hoped GlobalFest’s initiatives will help break the isolation, Goosen says.

“Our programs are, first and foremost, fun, but they have a lot deeper meaning as opportunities to come together.”

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This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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