The Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND) kicked off the Then & Now festival, a month-long showcase of the accomplishments of black Canadians, both past and present, at the Gladstone hotel Jan. 24.
For the fifth year, Then & Now features a diverse lineup of community events, curated in partnership with BAND and TD Bank Group.
At venues across Toronto, as well as Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax, Then & Now features films, concerts, exhibitions and performances in dance and theatre by both Canadian and international artists, all to mark Black History Month in Canada.
“There are many people that talk about the history and celebrate the history, but we have taken the stance, after talking to our community partners in (the) black community, that it is not just about the history, it is about what we are doing going forward and what is happening now,” said Alan Convery, a senior manager of community relations with TD Bank Group.
Convery said Then & Now features a full roster of entertaining and educational events. And, according to Convery, there are two Toronto highlights, both of which are taking place in the downtown west end.
Obsidian Theatre Company will stage their latest production, Shakespeare’s Nigga, Feb. 7 to 23 at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave. Tickets are $15 to $35. Visit www.obsidiantheatre.com for details.
“We have been a longtime supporter of Obsidian Theatre, well before we even started with Black History Month,” Convery said. “They have been a super organization to work with.”
Also topping the list of must-see events is The Brothas Concert Feb. 28, Convery said. The concert will be staged at the Lula Music and Arts Centre, 1585 Dundas St. W. Tickets are $20 for the show or $55 for dinner and show. Visit http://andrewcraig.me for details.
“These are two real Toronto highlights,” he said.
Other Then & Now events in happening in the downtown west end include Reggae or Not: The Birth of Dancehall Culture in Jamaica and Toronto featuring photographs by Beth Lesser. This show takes place at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W. Feb. 1 to 28.
Various branches of the Toronto Public Library will have Black History Month programming as part of Then & Now. The Parkdale branch presents Beyond Sound Empijah: The Rumble of the Drums Feb. 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. with Toronto-based drummer Muhtadi, who has assembled a circle of young drummers and dancers.
Visit www.blackartndialog.com for more on Then & Now programming.