Annual event overcomes challenges, respects health guidelines in return from virtual-only 2020 

Live music wafting across the waterfront. People dancing and singing along. A celebration of Halifax’s growing cultural diversity. It may sound like a pre-pandemic scene, but it was actually just this past October as the Mosaic Music Festival of Arts and Culture returned to live performances after a virtual-only event in 2020. 

Live events in the time of COVID-19 can be tricky things, but the founder of the event says he was pleased with how things came together despite the challenges. 

“It was beautiful to see people come out and have a good time, as we showcased the different cultures that make Halifax unique,” says Ifeanyi Emesih, founder and CEO of My East Coast Experience and originator of the Mosaic festival. 

“The festival was a good taste of what returning to live events will be like in the time ‘after COVID’,” says Kinza Shahid, digital media executive, marketing and communications for My East Coast Experience. “The event was intentionally smaller this year to be in accordance with health and safety guidelines, but no one seemed to mind.” 

Perhaps the biggest challenge the festival faced this year wasn’t the pandemic or health restrictions, but was instead the weather. It was wet and dark on the event’s planned weekend, leading to it being moved to the rain date on the following Friday. However, the crowds still turned out and performers enjoyed excellent reactions. 

“We did have much more audience engagement during performances,” Shahid says, “especially Wontanara Drum and Dance, and Rush!” 

Shahid says crowds grew in size as acts performed, leading to bigger and bigger audiences as the event progressed. The festival’s finale featured Rush! and the largest crowd of the festival. 

“During the performances, people were dancing, singing, interacting, enjoying themselves, and overall having a good time. A standout moment for me was Rush!’s performance. They are a Bahamian group based in Halifax and they promote the culture of the island. Their performance was one of our more high-energy, interactive acts. Their drums, trumpets, saxophones, and colourful costumes drew a sizable crowd with smiles on their faces,” Shahid says. 

“We learned a lot from this year’s festival, even more than we have from past events,” Emesih says. “Together with what we learned about hosting a virtual event in 2020, we expect next year’s edition to be even better. We’ll be that much further past the pandemic by next fall, so expect to see more acts, more diversity, and even bigger crowds.” 

The only challenge Shahid foresees not being able to overcome next October is Nova Scotia’s unpredictable weather. However, she has a plan for that too. 

“The festival was pushed to a rain date and time where people were still in the office on a Friday afternoon, rather than on a Saturday as originally planned. We suspect this had a small impact on foot traffic and attendance for the earlier acts. Although the following Friday was the next available date, if we’re in that situation again next year we will definitely hold out for a weekend rather than a weekday,” she says. 

Ken Partidge

Ken Partidge

Ken Partridge is the Managing Editor and Head of Content at My East Coast Experience Media. He is a 34-year veteran of the Halifax journalism scene and worked at both the local and national levels to help provide better resources for journalists.

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