‘Virtual Awakenings’ Projects For Black History Month Launched By Toronto History Museums

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Awakenings 2021 - Lanes, 2020. A film by Karimah Zakia Issa. BTS photo by Andrew Williamson

TORONTO: Mayor John Tory has announced new online content for the Awakenings program for Black History Month, which includes music, film discussions on the effects of racism on physical and mental health and a new artist mentorship program.

Launched in December 2020, Awakenings is a series of art projects by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism and anti-racism. The series is part of the City’s anti-Black racism efforts.

In July 2020, 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 developed opportunities such as Awakenings to increase support for Toronto’s
Black creative communities.

Awakenings has also announced an exciting new music project, as well as other just released content and more Reflections behind-the-scenes discussions. See details at http://www.toronto.ca/museums.

Kitchen Concerts at the Inn Kitchen Concerts at the Inn is a music series celebrating life and honouring the story of Joshua Glover, a freedom seeker who escaped enslavement in the United States and then lived and worked at Montgomery’s Inn. Kitchen Concerts at the Inn is co-curated by Soulpepper Theatre Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha, with the participation of DJ, scholar and curator Mark V. Campbell.

Awakenings 2021 – Fuyuzakura, 2021. A film by Michael Maddeaux. BTS photo
by Andrew Williamson

Kitchen Concerts at the Inn Chapter I launches with a powerful lyric video for “Freedom Heights (A song for Joshua Glover)” (https://www.youtube.com/watchv=pWyo4D5ivPk&feature=youtu.be), which reflects on Joshua Glover’s fight for freedom. Performed by Jully Black, Susan Carol, Savannah Ré, Emanuel, and Kardinal Offishall, this song of revolution, empowerment and resistance brings an awakening during current times of social and racial injustice.

The message of “Freedom Heights (A song for Joshua Glover)” will be amplified with the Toronto Raptors as a new song that champions Joshua Glover’s story of inspiration, resilience and strength. Proceeds from “Freedom Heights (A song for Joshua Glover)” on all digital platforms will be donated to NIA Centre for the Arts. NIA Centre is building Canada’s first professional multidisciplinary Black arts centre.

We Were Always Here World-renowned director Julien Christian Lutz pka 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 films were released in December 2020. Four new films will be released in February including Lanes (filmed at Mackenzie House); Fuyuzakura (researched and partly filmed at Gibson House); Mission Sankofa Awakening (filmed at Montgomery’s Inn); EMPIRE (Scarborough Museum) launch this month.

“A Portrait in Red” from filmmaker Alex Lazarowich, part of Awakenings project “We Were Always Here” – Toronto History Museums

Behind the Curtain

Roger Mooking collaborates with award-winning producer Byron Wong on a series of eyeopening interviews with mental health experts, social justice advocates, cultural leaders and culinary peers. New videos include: Feel Good with Dr. Kamala Uzzell and Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X, and Live from the Barbecue with pitmasters Rodney Scott and Matt Horn.

Mentorship Program
In partnership with Soulpepper Theatre Company, the Awakenings Artist Mentorship program is accepting applications. The mentorship will include five artists from Soulpepper 2021 Academy and five artists that are to be chosen through this open call.

The artists will create site-specific work for each of the 10 Toronto History Museums. Soulpepper’s Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha, dub poet and decolonial scholar d’bi.young anitafrika and choreographer Esie Mensah will mentor 10 artists.

Artists working in theatre, performance, dance and interdisciplinary practices are invited to apply online at: https://cotsurvey.chkmkt.com/AwakeningsOpenCall. The application deadline is February 25 at 11:59 p.m.