Elevate Burbank Hosts First Multicultural Arts Festival in Burbank

Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company performing at the Multicultural Arts Festival. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Elevate Burbank hosted their first ever Multicultural Arts Festival on the Burbank High School field this past Saturday.  The free event took place on August 20th from 11:00AM to 5:00PM with a full line up of musicians, dancers, martial arts demonstrations and more.

Elevate Burbank is a non-profit organization that was formed by a group of Burbank locals dedicated to promoting an understanding of cultural diversity throughout the community. “We were so thrilled to host our first multicultural arts festival on Saturday,” said Elevate Burbank board member, Madison McAleese.  “I was personally blown away by the incredible talent of our performers. We are so appreciative they came to share their music and culture with us.”

Martial Arts Demonstration at the Multicultural Arts Festival. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Burbank School Board Member, Steve Fritner kicked off the day with a welcome message which was followed by a Chinese martial arts demonstration by Brian Chan and his students. Next was a beautiful dance performance by Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company, in which they graced the stage in long, flowing dresses.  The organization provides Armenian youth the opportunity to celebrate and preserve their culture and tradition through dance.

Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company performing at the Multicultural Arts Festival. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Councilmember Nick Schultz was in attendance and said a few words of appreciation for the event. “It’s been a long and winding road to get here. On behalf of the city we are so excited that an event like this is happening,” said Schultz. “When you think about Burbank and you think about community, it’s these kind of events where we can celebrate and acknowledge our differences and exchange ideas, whether its art or cuisine. The diverse tapestry that is Burbank deserves a home,” he added.

Also hitting the stage were students from Guitar Ninjas, a music school in Burbank that teaches guitar by incorporating learning fundamental principles. Owner Jason Land, performed on stage with his students that included nine guitars, and a percussion box drum. “I have been a lifelong fan of Led Zeppelin and thought it would be fun to perform the music in a way the original band could not, with multi-layered guitar parts! The music allowed our student performers to collaborate and challenge themselves as well as each other, it worked out great!” said Land who practiced with the group for two weeks leading up to the show. “Doing this forced the students to really listen to each other and control their own dynamics to fit the goal of the collective. I’m so proud of these kids, it is not easy music to pull off and they made all of the instructors and other students of Guitar Ninjas proud,” added Land.  

Guitar Ninjas performing at the Multicultural Arts Festival. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Other artists hit the stage sharing their talent including the NashBerry Family band playing their acoustic folk music, storytellers Vicki and Brian, poet Tony Ordoukhanian, Independent Opera Company, and the Cleary Irish dance school. Also in attendance to show support to the event were Councilmember Sharon Springer, Burbank School Board President Charlene Tabet, Burbank School Board Member Armond Aghakhanian, and Senator Anthony Portantino.

NashBerry Family Band performing at the Multicultural Arts Festival. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

In addition to the stage of performers the Multicultural Arts Festival had food and dessert trucks and a local artisan fair. Exhibitors like Bliss Box, Nothing Bundt Cake, and As Local As Can Bee, came out with booths for the event.  Attendees learned about different cultures through diverse exhibitors like Ankarrah, an ancient way of energy healing. The Armenian Students Association of Pasadena City College were teaching guests how to write their name in Armenian and Brian Chan was showcasing the art of Chinese calligraphy.

Armenian Students Association of Pasadena City College. Photo by Ashley Erikson

Elevate Burbank had a booth with information about the organization and fun activities for kids. “We are just getting started,” said McAleese. “We hope this will be an annual event and we will continue to get the word out about the importance of promoting diversity in our community.”

Elevate Burbank Team. Photo by Ashley Erikson