A couple of weeks back we at the Kapisanan Philippine Centre hosted a group of delagates from across the Americas for a session during the ‘Ignite the Americas‘ conference in Toronto.

As it says on their website the conference was about:

Recognizing and building upon the increasingly important role that arts and cultural expressions play as an engine for economic growth and positive youth engagement both in Canada and throughout the Americas, the Government of Canada, through the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH), will present Ignite The Americas: Youth Arts Policy Forum, to take place in Toronto, Canada from September 15-21, 2008.

Planned and produced in full partnership with youth arts sector leaders and in collaboration with the Inter-American Committee on Culture (CIC) of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ignite the Americas will bring together young leaders and artists, cultural policy makers and industry leaders from across OAS Member States, and will be an important first step towards building strong partnerships and cultivating new opportunities for cultural, professional, and creative exchange between the youth arts and cultural sectors.

It was definately interesting, though from my limited perspective (being able to see only this one day in a week long event) too brief to fully explore the challenges that befall youth throughout the Americas.  Moreover, this being an OAS event (a Coldwar brainchild of the US), one must be a little wary–it would have been sick if it were sponsored by UNASUR instead (but then it wouldn’t happen in Toronto).

I found it curious that there was little discussion of the danger of being a political artist in many countries in this hemisphere…  But I my brain seems hardwired to distrust anything linked to Uncle Sam.

Some mad cash was spent on this event. The lady in the background is a professional translator from Washington. She's speaking into a mic, and all of us are wearing headsets so we can get instant translation.

Anyways, the KPC was chosen to show one cultural art organisation in Toronto and we showed them some vids and photos of our recent events and projects, as well as presented them some cultural pieces.  It ended with a jam session incorporating both traditional Philippine, and Western instruments.  And it was great to meet all those good people that truly seemed to be honest and eager grassroots workers,