Mark Monahan - Ottawa Bluesfest

Mark Monahan - Ottawa Bluesfest

Inducted in 2011

Mark Monahan is the founder of the Ottawa Bluesfest. Mark fills the role of executive director and—along with a volunteer board of directors—provides leadership for the organization. Mark also acts as artistic director for the festival and is responsible for all artist negotiations and bookings. Mark has led the organization from an initial budget of $100,000 (1994) to the present cash budget of more than $10 million.

In 1999 Mark spearheaded an artist-in-residence music education program called ‘Blues in the Schools’. This initiative has become tremendously successful under the ongoing leadership of Mr. Monahan.

Mark’s contacts within the international arts community and tourism industry have proven to be invaluable to the Ottawa Bluesfest organization. In 2000, Mark was voted Tourism Person of the Year by the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority.  In 2002, the Ottawa Bluesfest received the Best Event Award from the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority, and in 2003 the organization was recognized with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award for arts education from the Memphis Blues Foundation.  

In October of 2003, Mark attended the National Conference on Tourism in Montreal. There, he accepted a national tourism award for Best New Business of the Year for successfully staging the inaugural Toronto Bluesfest while facing myriad tourism obstacles.

An example of Mark’s leadership qualities and vision is his conceptualization and implementation of Ottawa’s Festival Network, which he chaired until stepping down in the autumn of 2003. To this day, Mark continues to champion local festivals and events, positioning them as growing and viable tourist attractions in Ottawa.

Over the years the Ottawa Bluesfest organization has garnered many awards, due in large part to the exceptional leadership provided by Mark Monahan.

Mark is a past recipient of the Toronto Blues Society’s Blues with a Feeling Award and was recognized in 2009 by Meeting Professionals International (MPI Ottawa) with their Annual Influence Award, which acknowledges a person in the community who has made a difference to the ‘meetings’ industry.

And most recently, in November of 2010, Mark was informed that the Ottawa Bluesfest was recognized with a Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award for outstanding non-profit organization.