In only its third year, Orlando’s FusionFest has become far more than just a seasonal affair. Even as current events throw much of the world’s cultural calendar into doubt, this diversity-minded festival has ballooned into a year-round program of in-person and online gatherings that are strengthening the connections between Central Florida’s many heritage communities.
For a prime example, look no further than the Diversitastic Dining Experiences, which invite curious foodies to sample the cuisine of a different ethnic restaurant each month. Participants get a full meal and an educational presentation on the culture that spawned it, complete with live entertainment. Recent installments have spotlighted the tastes of Turkey and Russia; the program continues on Thursday, August 27, with an evening of Polynesian-themed recipes and performances at Pilar’s Co-Op Ballroom in Winter Garden. As always, proper covid-19 protocols will be followed, to ensure a get-together that’s both safe and fun. Reservations can be made at FusionFest.org/dining
At the same time, the festival is sponsoring a series of virtual sessions and workshops that show how the arts can carry the banner of diversity. Recent editions included a filmmakers’ roundtable and the first in an ongoing series of music seminars. The last one held on Zoom on July 28, featuring Orlando-based composer/educator Jeremy Adams speaking on the topic of “Cultural Fusion in Music – Arranging 101.” is now available at FusionFest.org/webinar
The project continues to offer its website as a platform for artists and vendors who have adapted their operations to the demands of covid-19. A running list can be found at FusionFest.org/virtual
That FusionFest website is also the official collection point for sponsorships and individual donations that will be critically important in bringing the festival back to downtown Orlando this Thanksgiving.
Within its first two years, FusionFest has become a holiday tradition that spotlights the music, dance, fashion, food and related creative expressions of more than 100 heritage communities found throughout Greater Orlando. The festival is scheduled to return November 28 and 29, 2020, with performances and presentations again taking place at the Seneff Arts Plaza at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando City Hall Commons Plaza. Event planners are using all of their creative skills to tailor this year’s presentation to the times: A socially distanced Street Dance Party and a fashion show with masks as integral pieces are just two of the innovations planned for 2020.
FusionFest is a project of the Downtown Arts District, with support from Orange County Government, the Orlando Downtown Development Board and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. In its inaugural edition, the event received the Award of Excellence in the Downtown Orlando Partnership’s Golden Brick Awards, and took first place in the “Community Outreach Program” category of the Florida Festivals and Events Association’s SunSational Awards.
For media inquiries, contact:
Terry Olson, Director of Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs
[email protected]; (407) 836-5540;
Kevin Findlay, Media Coordinator [email protected] ; (407) 402-1547; or
Thali Sugisawa, Business Maven, FusionFest
[email protected]; (407) 574-1312