Central Florida is home to an increasingly diverse community of people who enrich each others’ lives with different cultures and languages. With over 75 million people visiting every year, people of the world love Orlando not only for its parks, entertainment and sunny skies, but also for its strong community.
After Pulse, our city showed the world how we as a community react to acts of hate. We responded and continue to respond, year after year, with love and a display of togetherness. Terry Olson, Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs Director, mentioned in a recent interview: “we think this is the time and the place to show the world that people with different lifestyles and different ethnicities, heritages, can live together in a non-divisive way.”
A research published by the Orlando Economic Partnership stated that by 2030 Orlando will become the most diverse city in the world. People of the world do love Orlando and are settling here adding more colors, tastes, aromas, sights and sounds to the City Beautiful. The identity of Orlando is being shaped by diversity and how the community embraces it.
Under the leadership of Olson, a grassroots movement was formed in 2016 to start exploring what it would look like if all of the different heritage and cultural festivals came together in one event. It was clear that when people from different cultures collaborate in a project, by fusing elements and ideas, they become more creative and innovative.
The festival was named FusionFest and received support from the Orange County Government, City of Orlando, and several sponsors that believed in the idea of fostering inclusion, collaboration and innovation. In its inaugural year, FusionFest had around 8,000 people from over 110 different heritages enjoying a weekend filled with music, dance, art, literature, spoken-word, fashion, culture, and fun.
FusionFest, a free two-day festival in downtown Orlando, exists to honor each person’s heritage, while also exploring and celebrating how we influence each other, creating our own unique identity.
Olson adds: “My goal would be that all Central Floridians feel they have a place and have value. And as we bring these things to the table, we’re inspired to be more creative and innovative in our businesses, social lives, the arts and in our expressions.”