Panel Conversation: WOMAD 30

Co-produced with Harbourfront Centre and sponsored by TD Bank.

WOMAD 30 - A panel looking back at the 1988 music festival that changed the perception of music in Toronto.

W.O.M.A.D - World of Music Arts and Dance was the brainchild of UK punk promoters (including artistic director Thomas Brooman) who produced the Bristol Reader a publication and indie label that was linked to pop icon Peter Gabriel, eventually launching a worldwide festival phenomenon and the label Real World. The 1988 edition of WOMAD Toronto took place at Harbourfront Centre and ran for five years produced by the Community and Educational Programs Department headed up by Marilyn Brewer.

WOMAD 30 will look at questions such as: Who was there? Why did this ground breaking festival happen in Toronto? Why at Harbourfront Centre? Why in 1988? What was special about the event?

In 1987 CKCO children’s television host Fran Pappert aka Miss Fran brought some educational materials to Marilyn Brewer, Caren Campbell and Derek Andrews to consider, after she’d visited the Bristol UK headquarters of WOMAD. At the time the waterfront was a beer war battleground between Labatt and Molson, the latter becoming a sponsor at Harbourfront Centre and Ontario Place ultimately building new venues at both. The beer company sponsorship also provided a backstop for risk programming and the introduction of a major “world music” festival.

The WOMAD 30 panel will explore the climate that launched a community based international festival. The Toronto WOMAD had roots in the legendary Mariposa Folk Festival, Trudeau multi-culturalism was organized on the idyllic waterfront arts complex at a time that Toronto audiences were hungry for new ideas in music culture. In the years preceding WOMAD, artists such as Bob Marley, Ravi Shankar, Mercedes Sosa and King Sunny Ade appeared locally but did not generate the remarkable and unprecedented atmosphere of access and cultural harmony over the five editions.

Join Denise Donlon, Ann MacKeigan, Lillian Allen, Rob Bowman and Derek Andrews in a panel discussion about the 30th Anniversary of WOMAD taking place at Harbourfront Centre in August of 1988, and the subsequent five year stand of festival.


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Denise Donlon (moderator). Order of Canada recipient, television producer and author, Denise has been at the helm of MuchMusic, Sony Records, CBC Radio (English) and as host of the magazine television show The New Music, travelled to England to report on the WOMAD Festival in advance of its Toronto debut.

Ann MacKeigan. Senior CBC Radio producer and currently active behind the scene at q, Ann was responsible for recording every concert at all five the Toronto WOMAD editions for broadcast, initially for the program The Entertainers. She was responsible for the award winning Global Village broadcast that featured music and reports worldwide until 2007.

Rob Bowman. York University ethnomusicology professor and Grammy Award winning author for his work specializing in Stax Records, was an advisor to the Toronto WOMAD festivals. Rob wrote copy for the festival programs and is currently a much in demand liner note writer spanning a wide variety of projects and artists from Rush to gospel label Malaco Records.

Lillian Allen. Reggae and dub poetry musician has won JUNO Awards for her work (Revolutionary Tea Party, Condition Critical), is currently a professor at OCAD and consultant, advisor on issues of diversity, equity, organizational responsiveness, and community building. Lillian performed on the Shipdeck Stage at the 1988 WOMAD with dub poet Clifton Joseph.

Derek Andrews. Music programmer at Harbourfront Centre from 1985 to 2003, Derek developed the summer music theme approach which spanned jazz, folk, blues and world music, overseeing the five Toronto WOMAD festivals. Global Cafe is Derek’s consulting service that supports artists such as Kobo Town and since 2010 has been artistic director and co-founder of Canada world music conference Mundial Montreal. He currently is music programmer at the Cultura Festival and Hugh’s Room Live.

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Conversation will happen in Harbourfront Centre's Lakeside Terrace and coffee will be provided.