The Northern Arts Festival is currently in full swing in Sudbury.
Hosted by Sudbury Performance Group (SPG), the fourth annual festival features the talented musicians of the North, and includes a multicultural array of performers.
Mark Mannisto, president and founder of Sudbury Performance Group, said they’ve made a concerted effort to ensure the performers in this year’s festival represent the true mosaic of the people who live in Sudbury.
He explains that over the past few years, there have been many newcomers of several different nationalities that now live in the area, along with the amazing makeup of people who already call Sudbury home. This means, they’ve put together a line-up that more accurately represents the cultural makeup of their community.
“We put in an extra effort this year to diversify our line-up to ensure we showcase underrepresented artists that really make up Greater Sudbury today because we really want to showcase the diversity in our neighbourhoods through the Northern Arts Festival,” he said.
In fact, last year’s festival was in large part the reason why SPG launched the first annual, Her Northern Voice last August, when it was suggested to SPG that women were underrepresented in the performers’ line up.
This year’s Northern Arts Festival includes an array of different performers including Francophone, female-driven bands, musicians form Brazil, Chile, and people of colour, but Mannisto said, it’s not enough.
“One area that I find we’re falling down in our effort to diversify is with Indigenous artists, we know that that’s an area where we are lacking and we don’t want to be especially being in Northern Ontario, it’s unacceptable on our part,” he said. “This is an open call that if you are an Indigenous artist who wants to perform please reach out to us, we want you to be a part of SPG’s roster.”
While there will be popular favourites performing at the festival, Mannisto said having the greater Sudbury mosaic represented in the performer line-up is equally important.
“We’ve had well-known seasoned performers consistently at our events, but we need to keep diversifying our programming,” he said. “We want everyone who calls Sudbury home, to be able to go out and be inspired by the music while also seeing themselves within the artists.”
Sicousi, a female songstress who’s performing in this year’s festival, said she’s appreciative that SPG supports her music by giving her the opportunity to perform at their events.
"I'm grateful for Sudbury Performance Group as they have believed in me and they support my dreams of sharing music with the world,” she said. “They've gifted myself, and so many other artists, the opportunity to share their craft, and to grow and shine in the community."
Claudio Peralta, a musician from Chile who moved to Sudbury in 2021, is also performing at the festival.
He started performing with SPG first as a member of a musical theatre production, and just recently at the Salute to Frontline Workers, where he hosted Latin Night with his wife.
“During the past year and a half living in Sudbury, SPG has supported me and have given me a place in the arts and music scene,” he said. “I appreciate how open they were to including my culture at their events, and thanks to them, we just had the first Latin celebration for the community. I’m so proud to be a member.”
Other performance highlights include Falcon from Brazil, Tessa Balaz, and Francophone artist, Edouard Landry.
Northern Arts Festival runs until March 31.
For a complete listing of shows, dates and venue, check out Sudbury Performance Group’s Facebook page or call 705-662-8518 to learn more.