Mark Monahan founded the Ottawa Bluesfest in 1994. Since then, the event has grown from a one-stage, three-day event to a multi-staged, two-week music extravaganza featuring some of the best talent available on the planet. As executive director, Mark has turned the RBC Bluesfest into one of the North America’s largest music festivals. Bluesfest typically attracts more than 300,000 music fans each year and generates millions of dollars annually in economic impact. Under Mr. Monahan’s guidance, Bluesfest consistently presents world-class regional, national and international acts. The festival upholds a particular interest in supporting and sustaining the growth of emerging and diverse musical genres, including the development of Ottawa’s local music scene.
In 2011, Mark took over the direction and management of the Ottawa Folk Festival, ostensibly salvaging the event. Since then, recent editions of what is now known as CityFolk―now staged at the newly renovated Lansdowne Park—have been unequivocally successful. The inaugural edition of CityFolk featured a stellar line-up that included Van Morrison, among others and the 2016 line-up included James Bay, Vance Joy and many more.
2014, saw the launch of yet another successful initiative— the Ontario Festival of Small Halls. Staged by the Team Behind Bluesfest, the Festival of Small Halls brings exceptional Canadian musicians to small venues across Eastern Ontario.
In the winter of 2019, Mark―and the Team Behind Bluesfest―launched the inaugural COME SEE & HEAR THE WORLD festival, in conjunction with Winterlude. Featured acts, such as Antibalas, Sudan Archives, and Harry Manx & Steve Marriner packed their respective venues.
Ottawa‘s RBC Bluesfest is ranked by Billboard Magazine as one of the top-10 most successful music festivals in the world. The festival was launched in Ottawa in 1994 and has grown from a one-stage, three-day event with a budget of $100,000 to a multi-staged, two-week music extravaganza with a budget of more than $15 million. The organization has grown from one director and one volunteer to 12 full-time professionals complemented by 20 part-time seasonal staff and more than 4,000 community volunteers. In recent years, the festival has been referred to as the Canadian version of Bonnaroo, Coachella, or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; all highly regarded tourist attractions. Some of the past headliners include: Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, James Brown, Kanye West, Drake, Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, KISS, Ray Charles, Sting, and ZZ Top, among many others.
Find more about RBC Bluesfest at the following:
The AVB Podcast is an arts and culture podcast showcasing interesting people, ideas, and music. We highlight storytellers, innovators, and disruptors, with a focus on the movers and shakers who make great things happen.