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what’s on(line) + let’s talk about mutual aid

February 24, 2021

whether you’re bundled up enjoying the snow or cooped up inside waiting for spring (24 days!), we could all use some art to lift our spirits and help pass the time.

We rounded up a few videos featuring artists in Residency at The Theatre Centre—see what they’ve been up to! In case you missed our announcement last week, we’re taking a break from Progress this year and using the time to consider how Progress has served the community and what it might look like in the future. If you have several minutes to fill out this survey, we’d love to know your thoughts! For this month’s Learning, Unlearning, we’re talking mutual aid initiatives: find out how you can support them if you’re able or access them if you’re in need.

what’s on(line)

Are artists essential?

Residency artist Ian Kamau’s Non Essential, commissioned by TO Live for the National Arts Centre, grapples with the importance of art and artists during this era.

“In summer 2020, The Singapore Sunday Times printed an article that quickly went viral. It listed artists as the number one most non-essential job in a reader survey. The survey came from a world-wide conversation about what constitutes essential work during a pandemic. I, like many independent artists, struggle with the value of my art, so when I was asked to think about what could make Canadian society better, I settled on the way we value, or under value, art.”

Brandon Ash Mohammed just wants to make Toronto laugh—and he’s succeeding.

Photo by Luis Mora (Toronto Star)
Photo by Luis Mora (Toronto Star)

The Theatre Centre’s very first comedian in Residency, Brandon Ash Mohammed graced our screens as The Weeknd on last week’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes to ask the question, Super Bowl or superspreader? Plus, check out this profile of Brandon in the Toronto Star to see what else he’s been up to!

Prince Amponsah in EMMETT

Season two of Obsidian Theatre’s anthology series 21 Black Futures dropped on Friday! Have you seen it yet? We love to see so many familiar faces. Written by Syrus Marcus Ware and directed by Tanisha TaittEmmett tells the story of Medgar making his way on the shores of the great Ontario Sea. On the seventh anniversary of the Fall, everything changes. Catch Residency artist Prince Amponsah as Medgar in episode five! Watch the first two seasons for free now on CBC Gem, and stay tuned for the final season this Friday.

let's talk about progress

At a time when we’re not able to gather collectively, we decided that a digital Festival didn’t feel right for Progress, and we wanted to think of the bigger picture. So, Progress is on hold for 2021 and we are embarking on a series of community consultations, starting with this survey.

We invite you to tell us what your experience of Progress has been in its first five editions. Even if you’ve never been to Progress, please take a look; we’d love to know why, or what your impression of the Festival is. This survey will be live until Sunday, February 28, and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Your responses will be anonymous unless you choose to share your information with us.

art is movement

Performer and Disability Collective member Erin Ball (Photo by Michelle Peek)

We’re proud to support The Disability Collective‘s very first event, ART IS MOVEMENT: A Virtual Showcase and Fundraiser. This free live-stream event will celebrate disabled artists and creators through a variety of art forms, and raise money for the Collective’s future initiatives. Tune in to see some fantastic performances on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at 7 p.m. EST.

learning, unlearning

Last week, we learned some troubling news about the city’s treatment of our neighbours living in encampments and local carpenter Khaleel Seivwright, who’s been building tiny shelters. Despite community support for Khaleel’s work, the city of Toronto has taken legal action against him and is attempting to evict the community members living in the tiny shelters.

Mutual aid initiatives, like tiny shelters or community fridges, can be an incredibly effective way to take care of each other. This article from The Cut sums it up perfectly: “Mutual aid is not just a response to a crisis, but instead, a more permanent alliance between people united against a common struggle.” In mutual aid systems, “people work cooperatively to meet the needs of everyone in the community… an act of solidarity that builds sustained networks between neighbors.”

Watch this, if you’d like to learn more about the difference the shelters have made in the lives of the people living in them and consider sharing your thoughts with your local representative.