Toronto – Interview with Arilda de Oliveira, Brazilian culture warrior in Canada

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Bonnie Crombie, mayor of Mississauga, (left) with Arilda de Oliveira, promoter of Brazilian events in Toronto (right).

By Arthur Vianna

For those who are not in the know, it is hard to believe that this girl, who has been in Canada for thirty years, has managed to do so much for the Brazilian culture. And all that she continues to do. Invited by Brazilian Wave, Arilda de Oliveira spoke about two of her upcoming projects: the Brazilian Pavilion at Carassauga 2018 and the Brazilian community’s largest event, BrazilFest, which celebrates 15 years of providing good services to the Brazilian community and to the city of Toronto. On the occasion, Arilda was accompanied by Daniel Nassar, marketing strategist and executive producer of the team.

Wave – Arilda, we know 2018 will be a very special year for you. In addition to coordinating the Brazilian Pavilion at Carassauga 2018, which is Ontario’s largest cultural festival, you will also be producing the largest Brazilian event in Canada, BrazilFest. What is the challenge like for you, in holding these two events that are so important to our community?

Arilda – First of all, I would like to thank you for recognizing the success of our work. Every year we strive to innovate. However, the challenges are not only related to the events. The fulfilment is also personal. It is this adrenaline that moves us. It is the shiver in the spine when we realize that all the effort of a united team has paid off. It is knowing that the impetus to continue promoting large events for the community will not be lacking. It is the assurance of the satisfaction of our supporters and regulars when they come to congratulate us with that special shine in their eyes. Especially with regard to BrazilFest, everyone involved in the project feels extremely proud of the arrival of the 15th edition on July 22nd. Great surprises are to be expected!

Wave – Tell us a little about the preparations and novelties for our pavilion at Carassauga 2018.

Arilda – On May 25th, 26th and 27th, the Brazil Pavilion will complete 3 consecutive years since its first edition at the festival at the Hershey Center. It is very gratifying to realize that over time, Brazil has become a source of inspiration for more than 70 exhibiting countries, present in more than 30 pavilions. The creativity of our people, the passion for celebrating our culture and the warmth and attraction that our highly-varied rhythms provoke from the public have led to new paths opening for our participation in the festival. Consequently, we end up making a commitment to stand out more and more each year.

Wave – And what about the expectations and new features for the 15th Toronto International BrazilFest of 2018.

Arilda – This year, more precisely on July 22, the party will be even more unforgettable. We are in the midst of producing many novelties and surprises for this special edition. A 15th birthday is like a child who has reached maturity in a structured manner and who is able to receive any levels of investors and exhibitors. The slogan BrazilFest – Feel the Passion means showing off what we represent so beautifully: party time, fun, harmony and warmth.

BrazilFest is the largest Brazilian event in Toronto and celebrates its 15 years of providing good services to the Brazilian community and to the city of Toronto

Wave – How did the idea of creating a festival with these characteristics come about? Did you use any other event as an example?

Arilda – The idea arose purely through observations that I have always made in my personal life. I have been in Canada for over 30 years. The event was born in Toronto because the city did not have much of a connection with Brazil’s culture. BrazilFest came about through the perception that for the general population there was a lack of a Brazilian reference in the city. So, we started to do community events, with capoeira shows, cultural meetings and parties in general. I noticed that more and more people were coming. But I wanted to have a house of our own. A place where we could come and feel welcomed. Thus, began BrazilFest.

Wave – How many people do you believe will be directly and indirectly linked to the preparations and holding of BrazilFest?

Arilda – Counting commercial partners, artistic attractions, and our production team, we can say an average of 150 people are involved in the festival’s preparations.

Wave – Much more than a Brazilian party, BrazilFest is an event of the city of Toronto. Does Toronto City Hall participate as a sponsor? And how are the contacts going ahead with the other sponsorships?

Arilda – It is important to point out that BrazilFest is a free event. We do not charge entrance fees for those who attend. We thank the City Hall of Toronto for promoting the festival in the list of major events on the city calendar. We do not receive any financial support from any public agency. On the other hand, we are totally willing to talk to those in power in order to arrive at a common ground that serves the interests of both parties: both those who benefit from all that is offered by the party and the organizers, we who need the city’s continued support.
With regard to prospecting for sponsorships, as we are already a consolidated event in the city’s annual calendar, we have loyal partners, always looking to work alongside us, and new entrants, to whom our marketing department is always ready to present the commercial opportunities that are available when taking advantage of our structure. All they need to do is get in touch with us. We have projects which will suit all sizes of investors.

Wave – A lot has changed since 2003, when the first festival was held. In your opinion, what were the main factors that made that first meeting become the biggest cultural event for Brazilians in Canada?

Arilda – There are so many stories, so many achievements, so many people who have come here to celebrate the Brazilian culture with us, that I feel obliged to go on and on, in order to continue seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, the public, each supporter and all the volunteers who join our team. I firmly believe that the main factor in the festival’s success is that everything is done with a lot of love and professionalism.
Wave – Take this opportunity to invite everyone to be present and participate in the two major events that you coordinate.

Arilda – Once again, thank you for giving us space in Brazilian Wave. We are waiting for all of you! Come celebrate the best of Brazilian culture. Now, go write the dates down in your agenda!

Carassauga Brazilian Pavilion – May 25, 26 and 27 at the Hershey Center in Mississauga. Get your passport in advance and guarantee special discounts. In addition, passports give access to free transportation by MiWay during festival hours.

15th Anniversary – Feel the Passion – July 22 at Earlscourt Park (St. Clair & Caledonia)