The recent CALA International Festival in Phoenix, Arizona, showcased the way that artists investigate the world around them. Festivals like this one take place all over the world, and they’re particularly advantageous to individuals who participate as artists, but also to the communities that support them.
When we’re directly involved in the artistic process, we have an enhanced ability to work with others and communicate our ideas. Festivals get people in the community involved, and they increase a sense of collective identity and worth. The CALA International Festival is dedicated to educating and inspiring everyone about the richness of Latino cultural heritage. It is designed to create shared arts experiences that encourage cultural understanding between people of the Americas. Programming this year included performances by international musicians, a series of talks around visual artists and performers, art exhibitions, culinary experiences, and CALA ¡Cumbia!
We are eternally linked not just to each other but our environment.
~ Herbie Hancock
There are festivals like this all over the country—
- For over 10 years the Utah Cultural Celebration Center has ended the year with its Trees of Diversity exhibit supported by music of the season. The exhibit features a display of decorated trees, gingerbread houses, wreaths, nativities, and holiday scenes, all created by different ethnic arts groups.
- The Regional Arts and Cultural Center in Portland, Oregon, hosts an outdoor art exhibit celebrating diversity and inclusion. Professional and amateur artists and photographers of all ages are invited to participate in the exhibit—Embracing Our Differences. Sarasota, Florida, hosts a similar annual Art Exhibit Celebrating Diversity.
- The Cleveland One World Festival celebrates the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, local art, music, and theater honoring the rich ethnic diversity of the city. The festival coincides with One World Day, an annual event that includes a naturalization ceremony for immigrants.
- A public art project—MOVE WITH US—shines a light on the diversity of Queens. The project calls for participants in the borough to translate their personal experiences through stories captured in body movements. It’s about really understanding the diversity of the community members who make up Queens.
- The Houston Institute for Culture hosted a Celebrating Houston! Music and Arts Festival to celebrate diversity and build a positive future.
- New York City’s Multicultural Festival—Celebrate Diversity is concerned with “building bridges of understanding and friendship” among the various cultural communities in the city.
Festivals promote diversity,
they bring neighbors into dialogue,
they increase creativity,
they offer opportunities for civic pride,
they improve our general
In short, they make cities better places to live.
~ David Binder, Broadway, off-Broadway,
and West End theater producer
Participation in the arts helps us develop personal and social competence as we learn to understand ourselves and others; manage our relationships, lives, and work; and realize our potential for lifelong learning. The impact of the artists and the arts in these celebrations of diversity can help us recognize and regulate our emotions, develop empathy for others, and make responsible decisions. As art makers, performers, and audience members, we can become better able to deal with the emotions and situations of others, appreciate diverse perspectives, and understand different needs. Arts Awareness helps people build an understanding of each other, enhancing the ability to exist side by side.
Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.
~ Malcolm Forbes