June 2, 2023

Multiculturalism, great food, fine art and some excellent music. The four in combination can be tough to find, but they melded together perfectly at the first ever Kultrún Festival (that’s “kull-troon”) two weeks ago.
The event was put on by Neruda Arts, a community based non-profit organization that, in their own words, “connects the diverse cultures of our region through the arts.”
The first activities at the festival’s premiere took place at Queen Street Commons  in Kitchener, in the form of a spoken word/songwriting exhibition called KW Poetry Slam.
The show started off with a performance by spoken-word artist Janice Lee. Lee delivered poems about love, commitment and community with passion and raw emotion, as did poets Awasis and Amanda, who followed after her. This event, however, was merely just the tip of the Kultrún festival iceberg.
Starting on Nov. 14, the festival spanned four days and came to  its end on Nov. 17. In that time, multicultural music was abound all over downtown Kitchener.
Kultrún featured performances from artists such as H’sao, Santerias, Patricia Cano and Laetitia Zonzambe. Each performance featured its own unique cultural flare. A singer hailing from the Central Republic of Africa, Zonzambe delivered her songs in French, English and Central African dialects.
Isabel Cisterna, artistic director of Neruda Productions for Arts and Culture, met a lot of the artists performing at Kultrún personally.
“I’ve met some through contacts, and some just from generally being a part of the Kitchener-Waterloo music scene,” Cisterna said.
“I want to make sure that this festival brings the highest artistic merit, and is as inclusive and culturally diverse as it can possibly be.”
Kultrún also featured several culinary events at various restaurants around the city. Restaurants such as The Ren@41, The Walper and the Marisol Restaurant hosted multicultural dish banquets which gave the diner a taste of Aboriginal, Spanish, South American and Mexican cuisine.
The festival concluded on Nov. 17 with Family Day, a free event that celebrated families of all cultures coming together. The day featured musical performances by artists such as Nomadic Massive, Joel Maripil, and Café con Pan among others.
Cisterna talked excitedly of Kultrún at the Queen Street Commons on Thursday. She said she was eager to see the rest of the festival play out.
“It’s pretty amazing, so many people coming together for something like this,” she  said. “A lot of work has gone into making this all happen, so it’s pretty wonderful to see it all come together.
“I think people will really support this.”
For more information on Neruda Arts and other events visit www.nerudaproductions.com/.