For better or worse, Nuit Blanche is only once a year. Here’s our top picks for Toronto’s art festivals in 2014. (photo via)
Everyone loves celebrations and because art-going is liable to be painfully serious, the occasional festival offers respite from the white noise of weekly gallery openings. Our top picks for 2014’s art festivals range from film to digital media to performance art; some are barely two years old and others are internationally renowned. Although they may have a fraction of TIFF’s budget or Nuit Blanche’s square footage, you can bet there will be attendees at each festival completely enamoured with their art star of choice. Check out our guide for Toronto’s 2014 art festivals–we’ll see you in the crowd.
New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA) Year-round
NAISA is a not-for-profit organization with a permanent gallery and concert space in Artscape Wychwood Barns. Since its inception in 2001, NAISA has hosted year-round exhibitions as well as three annual festival series. March’s Sound Bash transforms the gallery into an interactive musical space for audience participation, and May’s Deep Wireless spotlights radio and transmission art. The summer-long Sound Travels series features the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, performances and public installations. We also have NAISA to thank for the weird and wonderful bicycle-powered synthesizer on Ward’s Island – it’s worth the ferry trip on it’s own, we promise.
Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) May 10-11
Toronto’s indie-press darling is back for its ninth weekend-long celebration of all things comics. TCAF has grown rapidly in attendance and acclaim since its debut in 2003; recent years have seen over 18,000 visitors a year and boasted panel discussions from renowned cartoonists such as Alison Bechdel and Jeff Smith. This year’s headliners include four-time Eisner Award winner Ed Brubaker and critically acclaimed Canadian Kate Beaton, as well as hundreds of vendors and publishers. Squeezing thousands of people into the nooks and crannies of the Toronto Reference Library means TCAF can test one’s patience with crowds; try to arrive early at panel discussions and avoid the vendor fair between 2 and 5 pm if possible.
Open Roof Festival Summer, dates TBA
Open Roof Festival is an outdoor, summer-long showcase of local and international independent film and music held every week from June until August. Last year the festival moved to the Moonview Lot near Queens Quay and featured a film and musical act every Thursday night for 10 weeks. Snacks are available from guest vendors and, provided they’re well-mannered, you can even bring your dog.
Admission: Tickets online and at the door
Nuit Blanche October 4
The nightlong art bacchanel may be both loved and loathed, but it would be unfair to dismiss the impact Nuit Blanche has had on Toronto’s budding reputation as a festival city. Last year’s shenanigans raked in nearly $40-million for the city and saw over one million attendees; I say ‘shenanigans’ because of these million attendees a large number just want to party – we won’t pretend we are exempt from this, just remember to play nice. If you actually want to see some art this year, grab the mobile app and a bike and plan your route beforehand. Or don’t, something’s bound to happen either way.
(photo via Ping Foo)
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts October 22 – 26
2014 will be imagineNATIVE’s 15th festival of Indigenous arts and visual culture, and 10th annual Film + Video tour that brings select programming to remote communities in Ontario. Combating underrepresentation of Indigenous people in the arts and providing access for both creators and communities are central to imagineNATIVE’s mission statement; last year an Awards Jury granted selected winners with two $20,000 Pitch Prizes for their project’s production costs, and the film and video tour reached over 30 communities. ImagineNATIVE is regarded internationally as one of the more important Indigenous arts and media festivals in the world, and a testament to the diversity of Toronto’s thriving arts culture.
Admission: Tickets on a sliding scale
7a*11d October 26 – November 2
For a genre that can appear entirely alien to the uninitiated, 7a does a wonderful job of making performance art accessible. The weeklong celebration is hosted primarily by not-for-profits and artist run centres, and, being an international biennial, you can be sure the festival’s programming is top-notch. This year will mark the festivals’s 10th edition, so you really don’t have any reason not to go. We’re excited for this one, can you tell?
Too late, better luck next year…
Vector Game + Art Convergence Festival February 19-23
Into gaming, digital art or electronic music? Vector just celebrated its second annual festival with weekend-long programming, including exhibitions, performances, workshops and panel discussions with artists and curators at several venues across the city. Last Friday’s Fancy Videogame Party at the AGO sold out far in advance and twitter reported that one of the panels turned into a meditation on “time, space, agency and ‘mainstream’ games”; both sound like something we regret missing. Vector expanded considerably between years one and two, so we’re excited to see what next year has in store.