[RECESS] is when we get to hear the stories of the good people behind the pop-up. It's our favourite time and we're happy to share the conversations with you.
Coming in strong with its fourth consecutive year, #Hapapalooza is the first mixed roots festival in Canada. Every September, the Hybrid Ancestry Public Arts (HAPA) Society hosts six days of celebration with a mandate to "to cultivate community and dialogue among people identifying as having mixed heritage, to generate public awareness around topics related to mixed heritage, and, most importantly, provide positive role models and venues for discourse for the next generation of mixed youth."
We connected with HAPA volunteer and featured artist Jana Sasaki, to learn more. She and a few members of the #Hapapalooza team all sat down together and offered insight into the upcoming festival.
@thisopenspace: Congrats on the festival's 4th year! What have you learned along the way?
HAPA: We've definitely learned a lot. The first year was very ambitious with 4 days of events. The next couple years we scaled back a bit and held a couple of low-key events at the VPL. This year, is our most ambitious year yet as we now have 6 days of programming and 8 events. We even have a festival HQ (@thisopenspace). We also have one of the most committed and passionate organizing parties yet! What we've learned is that there is a definitely a thirst in Vancouver and in Canada for more multiethnic festivals that celebrate our diverse mixing and blending. It's a lot of work to put on these festivals and none of us are really event planners, but with the passion we have for Hapa-palooza, we've been able to rise above the challenges and learn from past mistakes to make for a more celebratory, exciting, and thought-provoking festival.
The festival's concept seems very much tied to being Canadian and living in a country that promotes multiculturalism. What's the response been in Vancouver?
HAPA: Canada definitely prides itself on diversity and multiculturalism. You can see this with the various festivals celebrated around Vancouver. Although, most of these ethnic festivals are centred around a particular community group such as Chinese, South Asian, Japanese, Greek, Italian, etc. Hapa-palooza really celebrates the combination of so many different community groups and celebrates the true spirit of multiculturalism with a blending of various cultures and backgrounds. Therefore, the response has be very positive in Vancouver and we have people telling us they look forward to the festival every year.
Are there similar festivals in other cities that inspired you?
HAPA: Mainly the other mixed-race festivals are in the US. These include Loving Day with the flagship event in New York. As well, the one day Mixed Remixed in LA (both one day festivals). Then academic conferences like the Critical Studies in Mixed-Race. There's also the Hapa Japan conference/festival in LA. Hapa-paplooza is the first mixed roots festival in Canada and currently the only mixed roots festival that runs longer than 3 days, being a 6 day festival.
As a celebration of mixed heritage and hybrid identity, #Hapapalooza led by a team of self-described "mixies". Here in the city, is there an established, active mixed-roots community or is it still in the growing stages?
HAPA: The topic of multiethnic identity comes up in the media in Vancouver every so often as the mixed community in Vancouver grows and intermarriages are on the rise. From that media a dialogue usually comes up but the conversation quickly fades. UBC used to have a mixed-race club but that only lasted a year or two back in the mid 2000's. There have been a few community leaders who have held a few hapa events in Vancouver in the past, but there really isn't an active mixed-roots community. I think this is what Hapa-palooza is trying to establish as an annual festival that celebrates our mixed heritage. With multiethnic people being one of the fastest growing demographics in North America, I can see the mixed-roots community growing and Hapa-palooza is a festival that brings together the community and celebrates those doing great things! Now that the Hapa-palooza has formed a society, HAPAS (Hybrid Ancestry Public Arts Society) we hope to unite the community with year round programming beyond just the festival through workshops, meet-ups, screenings, book readings, etc.
As a whole, what's the most rewarding part of putting on #Hapapalooza?
HAPA: Vancouver has one of the fastest-growing multiethnic populations in Canada and is on track to having a multiethnic majority demographic within this century. Hapa-palooza is a festival that celebrates our diversity. Having people come to the festival and tell us how much a festival like this means to them is by far the most rewarding part of putting on the festival. Additionally, the organizing party really loves working together, and we’ve found ourselves really enjoying meeting and being in community with each other. As well, Hapa-palooza is the festival we all wished we had when we were kids. The festival is helping to create a safe environment to discuss and take pride in mixed-race identity, and is important to helping further the dialogue on multiethnic identity in a larger context. This is a festival for us by us, and having it all come together with successful fun and entertaining events is super rewarding.