News / Halifax

Prismatic Arts Festival brings cultures from across Canada together in Dartmouth

Annual festival a ‘space to engage and create’.

Alexandra Garrido of Mariachi Ghost performs at Alderney Landing on Sunday afternoon as part of the Prismatic Arts Festival.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Alexandra Garrido of Mariachi Ghost performs at Alderney Landing on Sunday afternoon as part of the Prismatic Arts Festival.

The Prismatic Arts Festival may have brought happy, dancing crowds for its weekend performances, but even more magic happened behind the scenes.

Since 2008, Prismatic has been showcasing Aboriginal and culturally diverse music, theatre, spoken-word and dance from artists across Canada and the world, said managing director Maggie Stewart.

“They’re doing super-innovative work because they’re bringing their own cultural perspectives and traditions, and mixing them with other … styles of art,” Stewart said Sunday.

Despite an overcast sky, a crowd of all ages came out to watch the main stage performances at Dartmouth’s Alderney Landing on Sunday afternoon, as Prismatic wrapped up after about 30 artists performed at the venue since Wednesday.

North Preston’s own Sanctified Brothers got people dancing and singing during their gospel set, while kids sat next to Raina the Halifax Mermaid to learn about the ocean.

Donovan Sweeney, aged 3, gets her photo taken with Raina the Halifax Mermaid at Alderney Landing as part of the Prismatic Arts Festival on Sunday afternoon in Dartmouth.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Donovan Sweeney, aged 3, gets her photo taken with Raina the Halifax Mermaid at Alderney Landing as part of the Prismatic Arts Festival on Sunday afternoon in Dartmouth.

With the festival’s own rising profile, Stewart said organizers have been able to help expose local talent like North Preston’s Reeny Smith to a wider audience. Smith is a singer who performed with David Myles at Natal Day this year and won artist of the year at the 2015 African Nova Scotian Music Association Awards.

“In our hearts we would like to see a lot of arts festivals look like this in the near future,” Stewart said.

Stewart said many of the artists stick around the Halifax area for the week and collaborate and meet with local talent.

Saturday night saw a bunch of musicians jam with the house band at Celtic Corner, Stewart said, while Iranian artist Mohsen Sharifian was introduced to bagpipe players here.

Sharifian is a master of the ney-anban, a double reed instrument from southern Iran that has similarities to the bagpipes, Stewart said.

“They were comparing their instruments and music and things like that,” Stewart said.

“Having these chances to come together really leads to a lot of new opportunities, especially for our local artists.”

Mariachi Ghost drew many to the main stage as they headlined Sunday afternoon; the band has a singer from Mexico, guitarist from El Salvador and other members from Winnipeg.

The group melds Mexican and prog-rock for a “fantastic” performance of music and dance, Stewart said.

“It’s very different from what you’ve seen but should represent the future of Canadian arts, where you see all these different elements coming and being celebrated,” Stewart said.

“When people have that freedom and that space to engage and create, and innovate, they come up with really wicked stuff.”

More on Metronews.ca