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Mark Monahan

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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 and artistic director, Mark has turned the Ottawa Bluesfest into one of the North Americaā€™s largest music festivals. Bluesfest typically attracts more than 300,000 fans and generates over $35 million annually in economic impact. Under Mr. Monahanā€™s guidance, Bluesfest consistently presents world-class regional, national and international acts.

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 CityFolkā€•currently staged at the newly renovated Lansdowne Parkā€”have been unequivocally successful. The inaugural edition of CityFolk at Lansdowne Park featured a stellar line-up that included Van Morrison, among others.

2014, saw the launch of yet another successful initiativeā€” the Ontario Festival of Small Halls. Staged by the Team Behind Bluesfest, the Festival of Small Halls brings exceptional Canadian musicians to over 40 small venues across Eastern Ontario every fall.

In 2014, Mark coordinated the creation of Festival House, a central artistic hub for many of Ottawa’s festivalsā€•such as the Ottawa Bluesfest, CityFolk, Festival of Small Halls, among othersā€•to grow and thrive. Mark also established the Bluesfest School of Music and Art (BSOMA), a creative education space offering music and art classes to people of all ages and abilities. 

Markā€™s Music Industry Leadership includes: Board President of Ottawa Festivals (1994-2004) and President of Ottawa Music Coalition (2015-2019); and co-founder and Chair of the Major International Festivals and Events Network (MIFEN), a collection of the twelve largest festivals in the province of Ontario. Mark is also a member of the marketing committee at The National Arts Centre.

Mark has received a number of honors including being named to the Order of Ottawa (2015), and being recognized as Ottawa Tourism Person of the Year (2013).


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