For Columbus resident Suzan Bradford-Kounta, West African culture always was part of her life.

It was present in her upbringing, and later when she immersed herself in it by traveling to Africa.

Now, Kounta said she and her husband, Abdou Kunta, a Senegal native, are teaching their children about the culture.

In addition to sharing her culture with her family, Bradford-Kounta since 2000 has been sharing West African culture with the community through the Thiossane Institute.

She is the president and creative director of the institute, which she said was made to preserve traditional west African dance and culture and teach future generations about its significance.

She and other members of the Institute's program, the Thiossane West African Dance Institute, will perform for the third year as part of the Dublin Arts Council's multicultural B.R.E.A.D! Festival of arts and community.

This year, the free festival will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 in Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway. Organizers said B.R.E.A.D! represents the phrase: Bake, Reconnect, Educate, make Art & celebrate Diversity.

Bradford-Kounta, who said she has studied West African dance for more than 30 years, said the festival is about bringing diversity through the arts.

That diversity, she said, is in keeping with the institute's mission to use dance as a universal language to connect.

In addition to the Thiossane West African Dance Institute, the festival also will feature performances by artists representing Japanese, Irish, Scottish, Cuban, Indian, Jamaican, Latin American, French and Appalachian culture.

Performances will take place on the festival stage beginning at noon. The last group is scheduled to take the stage at 6:20 p.m.

This year's festivities also will include the Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, who will construct a mandala sand painting of Avalokiteshvrara, the Buddha of Compassion, from Oct. 10 through 14.

At 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, the monks will sweep the mandala away and share the sand with audience members as well as the nearby stream.

The process is quite a feat, said David Guion, Dublin Arts Council executive director.

Although this is the festival's third year, it is the first time it is being held in Coffman Park, Guion said. The festival was moved at the city's suggestion from the Historic District to host larger crowds and avoid closing streets.

This year's festival was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation, a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a $3,500 grant from the Puffin Foundation West, and a $1,000 grant from the Dublin Community Foundation, Guion said. Dublin also provided a hotel-motel tax grant of $22,000, he said, and sponsors also contributed funding.

The festival, Guion said, is not only for the community, but designed by the community, through a committee that provides suggestions and ideas.

"I think that makes it a really powerful festival and a powerful statement," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah