Toronto History Museums Launches Series Of Virtual Awakenings Art Projects Program

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An historic inn from the 1830. Pic: City of Toronto,

TORONTO: Mayor John Tory has launched the Awakenings program – a virtual series of art projects by Black, Indigenous, and artists of color.

Awakenings is a new program that will feature art projects that explore untold stories, awaken a new perspective and invite the public to join the conversation.

The series is part of the City of Toronto’s efforts to address anti-Black racism and will be released over the next couple of years.

Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee, as well as Cheryl Blackman, Director of Museums and Heritage Services, renowned director Julien Christian Lutz, professionally known as Director X, and choreographer Esie Mensah.

In July, the City committed more than $1.2 million in cultural and economic investments to confront anti-Black racism.

The City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Economic Development and Culture division have been developing opportunities such as Awakenings to increase support for Toronto’s Black creative communities.

Toronto History Museums recognized the need to reassess the way in which it develops, delivers and evaluates its programming.

Awakenings. Pic: City of Toronto,

In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action in the Museum sector, the Toronto History Museums sites are embracing partnerships that embody Indigenous voices, stories and knowledge into programs, collections management and sites.

The Awakenings program begins to address the lack of representation in the stories of Toronto’s history.

More than 80 per cent of creative people involved in Awakenings art projects are from the Black, Indigenous and people of color communities.

This month, Awakenings launches with three online art projects and will also feature Awakenings Reflections: Behind the scenes discussions.

A Revolution of Love
A Revolution of Love is a digital short film that follows a young Black woman as she grapples with the histories of her ancestors and the present-day violence ravaging her community, and begins to imagine what her future looks like through dance.

Conceived by an internationally-recognized Black creative team and featuring the words of Assata Shakur, this piece spotlights 15 women as they come together to re-frame revolution in the name of love.

Esie Mensah choreographs, Weyni Mengesha co-directs, Lucius Dechausay co-directs and edits, and d’bi.young anitafrika composes in this digital short film. “A Revolution of Love” was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Fort York National Historic Site, in partnership with Soulpepper Theatre.

Behind the Curtain
In conversation with award-winning hip-hop recording artist and broadcaster Shad and producer and multidisciplinary artist Byron Kent Wong, Food Network host, restaurateur, author and award-winning recording artist Roger Mooking reflects on the effects of racism on mental health and shares untold stories of his experiences growing up in the Canadian Prairies and working in the American South.

The conversation explores how food, art and music formed his journey. Part one launches today and part two launches on January 12, 2021. Behind the Curtain was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Montgomery’s Inn, www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/historyart-culture/museums/montgomerys-inn/.

We Were Always Here
World-renowned director Julien Christian Lutz, professionally known as Director X, mentors 10 emerging Toronto-based Black, Indigenous and people of colour filmmakers to present short films that aim to disrupt, discover and display colonial narratives. Each of the filmmakers focuses on one of the 10 Toronto History Museums to bring to light untold stories. Five of these films will launch this month.

Awakenings Task Force
The Awakenings Task Force was formed to develop art projects within Toronto History Museums, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism, sustainability, advocacy and storytelling. The City recognizes the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024) and has aligned the Awakenings program to meet the goals of the Decade, which are recognition, justice and development.