In the cosmopolitan soup of New York City, it is surprisingly difficult to find an event that celebrates numerous cultures and backgrounds on the same platform. Yes, the city has countless parades and days and celebrations dedicated to single groups, all of which contribute to the spectrum, but hardly an event that brings together so many cultural groups under one umbrella. The World Heritage Culture Center (WHCC) is aiming to do just that at their second annual World of Colors concert to be held on Saturday, September 25 in Manhattan.
Launched in 2009, the WHCC is a non-profit organization that “aims to create a common ground where we can celebrate the different ways of life through the arts,” explains founder and president Sattie Persaud. The WHCC’s agenda includes numerous classes, seminars and events throughout the year that promote greater knowledge and understanding of arts and culture. Juan Carlos Gonzalez, co-founder and vice president of WHCC adds, “We want to celebrate pride in our own cultures and then share that with each other. We celebrate pride in our ethnic backgrounds and American identity.”
Persaud, who is of Indian ancestry from Guyana, says that the World of Colors concert is “one of our signature shows and it will showcase twenty-two performance groups representing as many cultures.” These include Indian, Tahitian, Dominican, Brazilian, Irish, Chinese, Polish, Egyptian, Russian and many more. Gonzalez aptly calls it “the entertainment of the U.N.” One of the groups that will be performing is Bollywood Funk, both a dance school and a performing company based in Manhattan. Vicki Aubin, one of the instructors and members who will be performing in the concert, describes her group as an “ode to Bollywood beats through western dance styles.” She adds, “we do jazz, hip hop and funk to the latest Bollywood dance numbers. [In the concert] we’ll be performing a medley of songs.” When asked why her group and the concert as a whole is worth checking out, Aubin replied, “Fusion is where the world is going, and you’ll get to see the best of fusion at the show.”
The World of Colors concert will be hosted by Colombian-born, New York-bred actor and comedian Carlos Gonzalez along with filmmaker, performer and educator Shetal Shah. Shah, who was born in New York to Indian parents, is excited about hosting the show, “The arts are an unique way to engage the community, and New York is so diverse. How often do you get 600-800 people in such close quarters celebrating an amalgamation of so many cultural performances? That’s what’s unique about it.” After its New York night, the World of Colors concert will also travel around the U.S., where they will connect with groups in different cities and showcase the diversity of the local talent. “People have been very responsive to this concept and we’re very excited to take the show around the country,” says Persaud.
The organization is also partnering with numerous charities to promote important causes through their events. With the World of Colors concert in particular, the WHCC will be working with organizations such as Alex Lemonade Stand (for pediatric cancer), American Cancer Society and HomeAThon (for the homeless) to help with fundraising and awareness. “Since we are a not-for-profit organization, all the groups performing are donating their time. We’re not paying anyone,” explains Persaud. The WHCC will also be acknowledging those who make a positive impact through their work by felicitating five individuals with the Global Appreciation World of Colors Award for their contribution to social or cultural causes around the world.
With so much going on, the World of Colors concert sounds like a great way to celebrate the diversity of life in New York City on the same platform. In this time of inter-faith and inter-cultural controversies and debates in the city, this seems like an ideal event to foster greater engagement and learning. As Shah concludes, “Knowledge is always a neutralizer. The more people know, the less resistant they will be to different ideas and ways of life.”