by Cassandra John
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The 7th Annual Manifesto Festival of Community Culture took over the city of Toronto for four days, celebrating the hip-hop community in Toronto. The festival included a producer showcase, the 3rd Annual Floor Awards, and a string of media workshops at the Waterfront Campus of George Brown College. Some of the most sought-after media personalities were on hand to educate youth on their experiences in the industry and ways to break into the market. The festival concluded with a huge concert at Yonge-Dundas Square co-headlined by Jhené Aiko.


I took some time out after the 7th Annual Manifesto Festival of Community Culture to sit down with the newly-inducted Executive Director of Manifesto, Dwayne Dixon, to discuss some of the future plans for Manifesto and how he enjoyed this years festival. We also got down to the core of the Manifesto movement.

Who is Dwayne Dixon?

I am many things depending on which day you ask me but, first and foremost, I am the Executive Director of Manifesto Community Projects and I’m a community guy. I came from the community, I’ve worked with youth and continue to work with artists throughout my career and I had my stint as being an artist. All the experiences that I’ve been through have led me right here to Manifesto.


Manifesto is a movement.  We are an organization but we are a movement to help artists reach a certain level in their career. You know, get them from emerging to established, that’s really our goal to unite and ignite ambition and help to streamline the process between art and commerce. It’s very hard, especially in the city of Toronto, to translate your art into a financial means-a sustainable financial means for a career. Thankfully, here at Manifesto we provide a great level of platforms for any artist especially from the urban demographic.


What is it about MANIFESTO that attracted you to the movement?

Simply the arts. Being an artist myself at a time when I was emceeing and rocking the mic, Manifesto did not exist. Seven years ago Manifesto was born and I’ve always, from the outside looking in, appreciated their movement and always thought their level and quality was at a standard to my liking. I have high standards myself and just seeing the opportunity they provide to artists was a natural fit for me. If I could use an analogy,  if there was a shining light and there was a firefly or a moth I would be that moth attracted to that shining light which is Manifesto.  That’s what attracted me, their love for the arts, the community and showcasing talent on a higher stage. That’s what I’m about I follow my instinct in everything I do and so does Manifesto.


This past Manifesto festival was a success. What would you say was your favourite part?

It’s tough to pinpoint because we had so many highlights.  From Yahoo streaming our headlining segment on the World Wide Web and making it more accessible, to us busing children out from the outskirts of the GTA down to the core. Also, having our first female co-headliner Jhené Aiko was a highlight as well. But even being at the art show and seeing how we engaged people with art and dance at one event was great. Having mentor classes at George Brown and activating that George Brown waterfront campus for the first time was a highlight.  Bringing Souls of Mischief who came out in 1993 and that was my heyday. I really loved Souls of Mischief. To actually share the stage with them and have them share to our audience what they meant to this culture, was pretty big to me as well. There’s just so many highlights with Manifesto it’s really hard to pick one. And that goes back to me being attracted to Manifesto. We’re not just in one lane. It’s not just music we deal with. We deal with Culinary arts, visual arts, dance. We deal with education.  There is so much that makes up this Manifesto movement that it’s so hard to pick one and fortunately that’s a good problem for me to have.


What are your future plans for MANIFESTO?

I’m so excited for the future of Manifesto. We have a great core-that core being our festival that happens every September. But, year-round programming is going to be at the foremost of my priorities-to engage the entire GTA, whether it be Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, or the east end. I want to make sure that we’re there throughout the year and that  it funnels into our annual festival so our festival isn’t just one and done.  You hear all about Manifesto then we die down.  It’s going to be a celebration of our year-round events. We will be engaging the community, on our way to becoming global. My main goal is to make sure that we’re connected internally here again, and the GTA wide core, so we’re not just a downtown-centric organization. We are a GTA and truly representative of Toronto’s culture, but also to spread globally. There is Manifesto Jamaica. There is Manifesto Barbados. Seeing where else we can activate Manifesto outside of the GTA, outside of Canada would be some primary goals for me.


To find out more information about Manifesto you can check us out at: We’re on Twitter: @Manifesto_TO and our Facebook handle is Manifesto Festival.  Or can just come down to our offices at 37 Bulwer Street.  It’s at Queen and Spadina you’ll meet some very artistic people and you might even run into me as well!

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