In support of folk festivals around the world, the President of the International Organization for Folk Art (IOV) and Bahraini poet Ali Abdullah Khalifa attended the Nova Petropolis International Folklore Festival in Brazil alongside the Mayor of Nova Petropolis, Georgie Darley. The festival was held with the support and encouragement of the International Organization for Folk Art, whose presidential headquarters is located in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The folk festival took place from the 12th to the 30th of July 2023, presenting more than 170 performances by folk groups from different parts of the Americas, showcasing the arts, customs, and different traditions of their diverse cultures.
The festival was attended by over two million spectators who had arrived to witness the performances held at main theaters, in schools, governmental bodies, and sponsoring companies, in addition to the festive parades that took place on public streets. These venues became the audience’s window into different cultures, as the festival aims to consolidate the unique identities people draw from their heritage. This festival, which has been held regularly since 1973, is a glimpse of hope to the enrichment of cultural diversity and protection against the effects of globalization.
In this context, Ali Abdullah Khalifa expressed his deep appreciation to the curators and organizers of this elaborate festival that celebrates the heritage of the Americas. He states that the logistical capabilities of the festival enables participating teams to present high quality performances to the attending audiences, adding, “I could truly sense the familiarity, love, and genuine support of folk arts by the people, which confirms the importance of preserving these arts and the significance of presenting them to audiences.” The president of IOV indicates that the overwhelming success of the festival is also due to the great support provided by Brazilian authorities and the encouragement of the Organization. In this context, IOV President Ali Khalifa also expresses the readiness of the organization, represented by its presidential office in the Kingdom of Bahrain, to cooperate with governmental and private institutions to highlight the heritage and arts of people around the world.
On a local scale, Khalifa expressed his hope to organize a festival of this caliber in the Kingdom of Bahrain. A festival which would attract audiences from around the world and support the flourishing tourism of the Kingdom. He stresses that holding a festival that celebrates heritage and its manifestations will be a cultural event that the public will enjoy and relate to. It would attract an audience of citizens, residents and tourists, thus promoting the outputs of our local culture and, in turn, promoting the Kingdom of Bahrain as a destination for such celebrations of heritage, as has Brazil become. By attending this festival for the first time since its inception, Khalifa represented the Kingdom of Bahrain as the regional headquarters of the International Organization for Folk Art. However, Khalifa continues to call for the need to establish a national Bahraini folk arts group that would be capable of representing Bahrain in international folklore celebrations.
The Nova Petropolis International Folklore Festival bears the name of the Brazilian city in which it is held, where groups from various indigenous and immigrant cultures from the Americas participate in showcasing their traditional arts. Performances are accompanied by handicraft exhibitions, cultural gatherings, and workshops, making the festival a cultural phenomenon that celebrates heritage passes it on to future generations.