“Matapa Brings The 'Absolute Best' International Musicians to Hamilton Audiences”
Glen Brown, Hamilton Music Magazine
“The more you explore other cultures food, music, art, books, etc., the more you put everyone around you on a pedestal of respect and honour.”
Alexandra Serafin, referring to the experience at the Hamilton World Music Festival


We are situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississauga. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation.


Matapa’s story began when a gap in the Hamilton arts scene was identified. The founding partners noted that although Hamilton is home to a culturally diverse population (according to the 2011 National Household Survey, 24.5% of Hamiltonians are immigrants), there was no organization dedicated to professionally curating and presenting art from a variety of cultures. This illustrated that it was essential for Hamilton to have an organization that would create the opportunity for the local community to engage with their own heritage through music and arts, and to learn from other cultures and communities that now call Hamilton home.

Matapa’s inaugural event took place in partnership with the Art Gallery of Hamilton, through the curation of a concert featuring Wazimbo (with support from the Mozambican government), Luanda Jones, Brian Melo and Tomi Swick. The purpose of this event was to observe how the Hamilton audience would react to different styles of music. After a standing ovation for Wazimbo, it was concluded that there is an openness to and indeed a strong appetite for culturally diverse music and art in Hamilton. Matapa proceeded to organize a country-wide tour for Wazimbo, in the course of which Matapa developed partnerships with presenters of Sunfest in London Ontario and Calgary Folk Music Festival, Nuit D’frique Festiva in Montreal; partnerships that have provided the necessary base for Matapa’s work to be possible.

The World Music Series began in 2012 as a series of performances by four (4) internationally recognized artists. In 2013, as the need for presenting consistent and professional programming for Hamilton's culturally diverse community became increasingly evident, the World Music Series was expanded to eight (8) artists/bands with performances being held nearly every month. Since, we have presented headlining international acts such as Sultans of String (Canada), Carmen Souza (Cape Verd) Wazimbo (Mozambique), Ana Moura (Portugal), Ini-Illimani (Chile), Tanya Tagaq (Cambridge Bay, Nunavut) and many more.

The founders: Dr. Sharlee Cranston-Reimer, Annette Paiment, Filimone Mabjaia and especial guest artist Lorraine Klassen

The Roots En Route Arts Festival, celebrating Black History Month, began in February 2013 with a desire to create opportunities for local artists to perform at professionally presented events. In addition, Matapa sought to provide a venue for the local community to learn, share and celebrate the diversity of the black Canadian and global experience in Hamilton. The Roots En Route Arts Festival features a variety of artistic mediums including dance, theatre, film, poetry and music.

In June 2013, Matapa launched the Queer Cabaret, as an annual celebration of the lives and art of LGBTQ2S people of colour. The Cabaret came out of recognition that LGBTQ2S people of colour experience marginalization in both LGBTQ spaces and other explicitly “cultural” spaces. The Queer Cabaret was, to our knowledge, the first event of its kind in Hamilton, and has since set the precedent for more culturally diverse programming in the LGBTQ community. This artistic celebration also serves as an annual event, around which the LGBTQ2S- of-colour community can coalesce.

In July 2014 Matapa leaped and hosted its first annual Hamilton World Music Festival (HWMF); a free three-day summer festival featuring a wide variety of leading world music performers and local artists, to the entire Hamilton community. The festival aims to increase the accessibility of world music for economically marginalized communities, including (but certainly not exclusive to) immigrants, people of colour and indigenous peoples. The festival has also provided a point of partnership and collaboration with other festivals and presenters such as Calgary Folk Festival, Nuits d'Afrique, London Sunfest, and others across the country. The synergy of these partnerships allows our festival to attract an even greater breadth of global performers, with the HWMF marking the culmination of Matapa's programming year.


In 2018 we realized that it was the time to review our achievements. During that process, learning from our mistakes and challenges also, we decided to pause our activities and work on a better plan for our organization. This is how we listened to ourselves, our volunteers and partners and we took the time to work on this plan just before the pandemic set us back. In 2022 we began again to review the strategic plan taking in consideration the new reality and we couldn’t be prouder of our achievement and what we have to present. This is the refreshed resilient Matapa Music & Arts Organization.


Resilience + Revive + Thrive = Moving forward through engagement, articulation and implementation.

The Matapa Music and Arts Organization Strategic Plan will help us build on the successes that we have achieved since our founding in 2012.
Our priority in this plan is to continue to deliver and enhance our artistic and cultural programmes alongside our overall goals of audience and market development. We prioritize the achievement of financial self-sufficiency for each of our various programmes and the sustainability of our organization overall.
We seek to develop deeper partnerships with the City of Hamilton, various local social, educational and cultural groups, and develop our connections with other music and arts festivals and organizations across the globe. Securing corporate sponsorship for at least one of our signature events is a priority goal.

Mission Statement

We promote deeper understanding of Music & Arts from around theglobe and expose local audiences to artists few would otherwise have theopportunity to hear or experience locally. Conversely, we also aim to includeHamilton’s growing newcomer and immigrant community who currently do notparticipate in Hamilton's arts life.


Matapa Music and Arts Organization is an organization working to celebrate cultural diversity through the presentation of world music and arts, festivals and education, while recognizing and further establishing southern Ontario, specifically Hamilton, as a vibrant cultural community that promotes the best in music and arts with origins from around the world.


Matapa Music and Arts Organization is a registered non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors who are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting. Decisions on the general direction of the organization and its activities are made by the Board of Directors. The Creative Directoris responsible for implementing the directives, budgeting and hiring of contract workers.

Board of Directors

Ulysses Da Silva Almeida (Chair)
Jacques Heri Soares da Silva
Patryck Andrew Ribeiro de Melo Pontes
Filimone Mabjaia

Past Board Members

Paul Michael Leegsma- President
Annette Paiment
Martha Kariuki-
Harvey Asiedu-Kofi
Sharlee Cranston-Reimer - President
Jessie Forsyth
Meaghan Ross
Datejie Green
Danny Medakovic


Filimone Mabjaia -Creative Director  & Founder
Lorena Costa -Manager of Operations
Samma Mendoça (She)  - BIPOC Queer Outreach & Program Manager
Carmen Guevara - Events  Coordinator & Latin Community Outreach
Eugenio Manuel - Web & Visual Identity
José Carlos Tamele - Video Editor

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