Toronto festival a first for International Roma Day
April 8 to 12, 2015
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• The Roma Community Centre for tickets
TORONTO - Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma, a festival of Romani arts and culture, will be held in Toronto on Wednesday April 8 to Sunday April 12, 2015 in celebration of International Roma Day. Organized by the Roma Community Centre, this will be the first festival of its kind in Toronto. Due to its new presence on the Canadian heritage stage, Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma will make a significant contribution to multiculturalism in Toronto. The event will expand the public’s understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the Roma people and their history in Canada.
International Roma Day was designated at the first World Romani Congress in Orpington UK in 1971. At Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma, Toronto will join international cities in celebrating the artistic achievements and heritage of the Roma people. For Roma, April 8 symbolizes community strength, dignity, and pride. The festival features Romani musicians, visual artists, storytellers, and youth.
April 8 opens at 7:30 pm with an art exhibit at Gallery 50, 50 Gladstone Avenue. An installation by Monica Bodirsky, Riel Brown, Lynn Hutchinson Lee and Hedina Sijercic, as well as Chad Evans Wyatt’s photographs of Toronto Roma will be shown to the accompaniment of guitarist Jozsef Botos.
Award-winning jazz pianist Robi Botos gives a FREE workshop at Bloor Street United Church on Thursday April 9, 7-9 pm. On Sunday April 12 at Lula Lounge from 8 pm to midnight, Robi returns to perform at Opre Roma. Tickets for three performances—the Robi Botos Trio, the Gypsy Rebels, and Romanyi Rota Band—are ONLY $20. After each performance, the musicians will engage festival-goers in a Q&A.
Lula Lounge is also the location of a continuous slideshow about the Roma people, a photography exhibit by Toronto Romani youth with photographer Nihad Nino Pusija, and from 3–6 pm, a youth talent show and storytelling for children and adults. As sponsors, the Toronto Public Library is holding Romani storytelling at the Parkdale and Taylor Memorial branches and is highlighting Romani literature all week.
Most Torontonians do not realize that refugees make up only one segment of the Romani community, many of whom settled here over 100 years ago from Europe and the UK, who speak a dozen different languages, follow different religions, cook many national cuisines, may or may not follow traditions, and have many different occupations just like other members of other ethnic groups. The festival creates a unique crosscultural exchange improving the public’s understanding of the Roma.
“The Roma Community Centre is thrilled to host our first festival for International Roma Day,” says Nazik Deniz, festival coordinator. “The Roma have contributed a great deal to the city’s celebrated multiculturalism but many people aren’t aware of our wonderful culture. Opre Roma is a chance to share our music, our art, and our history with everyone. Come out and meet our people!”
Roma Community Centre
Fax (416) 519-0443
Robi Botos Trio: