24 September 2021
After a first successful Armenian Pop-Up Market in July 2021, a bigger second edition took place on September 18 and 19, 2021 at the Society of Armenians from Istanbul in Montreal. Keghart.org met with the organizers Tamar Panossian and Hera Sukyas and had the following conversation.
Keghart: What motivated you to organize the Pop-up Armenian Market?
Tamar: My mother and a group of her friends are all artisans who were looking for ways to promote their work. They kept going to local art fairs to sell their creations and often asked me where else they could do so. My background being in business and having attended many expos where promoting my business, I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t have an Armenian artisan’s market. Knowing the members of MEG committee, I knew they would be open to the idea of hosting one.
Keghart: What is the new addition(s) that this event brought to the community in Montreal and Laval?
Tamar: The most important achievement of this event was to give a platform to new and upcoming artists, artisans, and mix them with existing ones who were sharing their experiences and giving the newer ones tips on how to go forward and succeed. We had many new participants who showcased their work for the first time. It was such a mix of different people from different backgrounds and affiliations. It was really a space where we were a united community.
Keghart: Tell us about the originality/creativity of the vendors who participated in the market.
Tamar: We had the most interesting group of vendors at our event. We had started getting requests for participation after the first market and got over 34 participants for the second market. From imported products to handmade items, historical merchandise, graphic art, books, coffee, wine… we had just about everything! We even had a photography area where guests could be photographed in Armenian traditional costumes.
Keghart: Do you think that you have succeeded in introducing a new approach to such community events? How can this become sustainable?
Tamar: I think we have to remember that besides having to sustain our community centers, schools, etc., we have to support Armenian-owned businesses as they are the ones who will give back to the communities when they succeed. I hope that I have succeeded in introducing a new approach and creating a healthy competition between all event organizers, the goal being to always innovate and plan new types of events where every person of the community will feel welcome and discover new things.
Keghart: Tell us about the disappointments and satisfactions of the visitors, what were the reactions that you have heard from them?
Tamar: Feedback from the visitors are very positive. Many of them have taken to social media to thank us for organizing such an event where so many new vendors, creative artisans and artists were introduced.
The disappointed ones are the ones who missed the event!
Keghart: Are there any upcoming events in the near future that you would like to share with us?
Tamar: Nothing set in stone yet. Stay tuned…
Keghart: Tell us about the mission and activities of “AGHPUR EVENTS” organization.
Tamar: Aghpur Events was founded after meeting many talented artists in Armenia who were not well known in the diaspora. Upon travelling to Armenia, I met some incredible artists who were never given the chance to perform in the diaspora and so I made it Aghpur’s mission to be the bridge between Armenia and the diaspora. We hosted Sevak Amroyan, Miqayel Voskanyan and Jazz Band, and Trialogue of Armenian Music. My first event was in 2014 when I planned a concert for local artist, Nareg Ghazarian. I can’t wait to get him back on stage!
I’ve always had a passion for discovery and most importantly to share my discoveries. I would wonder “why don’t I know about this”, “why didn’t I hear about that” and think “are other people as interested as I was about the new information I learned”. So at some point, I started using my social profiles to share anything new I came accross, whether it was an artist, a song, decoding Sayat Nova or information about traditions and Komitas. People started turning to me for information and even if I didn’t know the answer I would research it.
Keghart: Why did you choose to collaborate with Aghpur Events on two occasions?
Hera: We had some plans to collaborate with Aghpur before COVID.
Once everything calmed down last July, we talked again and decided to organize a pop-up market. We realized that the artists, artisans and Armenian owned businesses needed a platform to showcase their work, to connect with their public. The first one we did in July was outdoors and had around 16 vendors.
Since it was a success and we had new vendors eager to participate, we decided to do a second one and we had around 30 vendors.
It is a pleasure to work with Aghpur because we have the same vision, our priorities align, we want our artists to succeed and want to give them visibility.
Keghart: Tell us about Bolsahay Cultural Association (Miutiun), memorable events, current activities, challenges etc.
Hera: Bolsahay Cultural Association of Montreal was founded in 1967 by Armenians who immigrated from Istanbul to Montreal. Over the years, the Association has worked hard to prepare memorable events including the Hrant Dink Oratorio in 2017 written by our very own composer Majak Tosikyan. Miutiun also welcomed renowned intellectual figures from Istanbul such as the late poet Zahrad, Robert Haddejian, Hrant Dink and recently the scholar Sevan Değirmenciyan.
The pendamic has been quite a challenge for us to navigate through since we were not able to host our Friday night gathering/dinners, we hope to resume soon.
Despite the challenges of the lockdown, the Ladies Auxiliaries Committee gathered to prepare take-out food and the MEG Committee organized various lectures via Zoom with the photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian, the Armenian singer Anaid B, as a tribute to Charles Aznavour, among others.
Above all, our mission is to gather Armenians from all backgrounds to share our common heritage.
Keghart: What is the mission of MEG Cultural Committee and who are its members and what does it do?
Hera: Founded in 1973, MEG Cultural Committee of Bolsahay Cultural Association sheds light on the Armenian cultural heritage, art and literature through exciting events that aim at educating, raising awareness, besides introducing new talents and books. All these are organized with a unique and personal approach.
Currently MEG Committee members are Hera Sukyas (president), Tamar Matig (vice-president), Taline Kalusyan, Chantal Manoukian, Mari Basmacı, Germaine Köleoğlu, Roger Gudsuz.
Our upcoming event is scheduled for October 23, 2021. It is the official launching of Kuyumdjian Library that contains more than 2500 Armenian books, some of them being unique and first editions.