ORLANDO, Fla. (April 11, 2022) – What started as a grassroots project in 2016 with volunteers from different heritages has evolved into Central Florida’s leading cultural diversity festival. The fifth annual admission-free FusionFest will take place this upcoming November 26 and 27, with new leadership, a new signature show, and continued year-round programming. FusionFest’s mission is to celebrate the people and the many different cultures that make Central Florida awesome by showcasing talents, sharing stories, collaborating, educating and breaking down barriers of fears and division. FusionFest initially partnered with the Downtown Arts District as its fiscal agent, but is now operating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. FusionFest’s Board of Directors has appointed Thali Sugisawa as the organization’s new Executive Director. Formerly a corporate executive in the medical devices industry, Sugisawa served as a volunteer from the festival’s inception and has since been actively involved in a variety of roles, including Business & Development Manager for the last three years. Under her leadership, FusionFest has secured new corporate sponsors and developed a year-round schedule of both in-person and virtual programming. “I’m delighted to take on this position and to have the opportunity to grow both the annual festival and the organization as a whole, and to establish more partnerships that advance our mission,” shared Sugisawa. “Seeing the growth of the program’s reach and structure is very rewarding,” said Terry Olson, Director with Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs and FusionFest’s Chief Instigator. “Orange County is proud to support FusionFest and work with Thali Sugisawa to celebrate our diversity and inspire creativity.” For the upcoming annual festival, FusionFest has contracted CeCe Teneal as its Entertainment Director to produce a new signature show entitled Kaleidoscope. The piece will showcase the best cultural performers in Central Florida in a unique fusion spectacle. Teneal, an award-winning performing artist and emerging producer who has graced the stage with Buddy Guy, Joe Cocker, Johnny Lang, and the legendary B.B. King, will also curate the lineup of musical artists and dance groups performing during the festival. Teneal stated, “FusionFest creates the opportunity for all cultures to interact and be educated on interesting ideas from all over the world. ‘Kaleidoscope’ affords the artists within those cultures with a unique experience to collaborate with each other. This piece will fuse together an unexpected myriad of performances which will all speak to unity. This role is an honor and a privilege.” In addition to Kaleidoscope, the FusionFest festival line-up includes musical and dance performances, an international food court and marketplace, visual art displays, spoken word performances, a cooking contest, fashion shows, and MYgration Films, where filmmakers tell personal stories of how their heritage has shaped them. Artists interested in performing in the annual festival can apply online at http://FusionFest.org/join.
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