February marks Black History Month and Black Futures Month, a forward-looking celebration that focuses on present-day accomplishments and contributions within the Black community, especially when it comes to the arts. Toronto is filled with exciting events and experiences created by some of the city’s top Black artists. From music to shopping to theatre, enjoy these 9 events happening in Toronto this month celebrating Black history and futures.
When: All month
Known as Toronto’s largest Black Futures Month celebration, Kuumba is all about supporting Black artists and Black culture. Now in its 28th year with the Harbourfront Centre, enjoy dance, music, workshops and literary events highlighting contemporary artists such as Hollywood Jade.
Toronto Black Film Festival
When: Feb. 15-20
Featuring 125 films from 20 countries, the Toronto Black Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing outstanding Black films while also celebrating Black History Month. Along with plenty of screenings of incredible new movies, the festival also features live performances, panels and even a kids festival. Check out the schedule online and grab tickets to individual showings or purchase an all-access pass to enjoy the entire festival.
Black Owned Toronto marketplace
When: Feb. 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
During the last weekend of Black History Month, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is partnering with Black Owned Toronto to host a marketplace featuring 25 Black-owned local businesses. Shop everything from hair care to children’s books to candles and more. Stop by the Weston Family Learning Centre to support Black-owned businesses!
The Flight at Factory Theatre
When: Feb. 10-18
For theatre lovers, an exciting new performance from Theatre Gargantua is coming to the city this month just in time for Black History Month. Written and performed by Queen Bess Productions, The Flight explores the life of ground-breaking aviation pioneer Bessie Coleman, the first African American and the first Native American to hold an international pilot’s license.
Denyse Thomasos at the AGO
When: Until Feb. 20
While this exhibition has been on at the AGO since October, it’s one you won’t want to miss, and this month is your last chance before it closes! Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos emerged in the 1990s and made a mark on contemporary painting with her artwork. She highlighted personal and political conflict in her paintings, representing events such as the transatlantic slave trade and has been recognized for her ability to do so without exploiting images of those affected by these events.
Everbloom Music Festival
When: Feb. 25
Dubbed a “micro music festival,” Everbloom is a festival in honour of Black History Month that will feature some incredible Black performers and musicians from across the country. Drag performers Eboni Parks and Manny Dingo will be there, alongside artists Ahsia, Del Hartley, Noiir and more. Plus, there will be a vendor market featuring Black-owned businesses. The even will be hosted at the Great Hall.
When: All month
This art exhibit is inspired by the efforts of Black abolitionists, and uses an Afrofuturism narrative to reimagine Spadina Museaum, turning Mrs. Pipkin into the homeowner and the hosue into a safe haven for those seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad. The group show includes soundscapes, ceramics and visual art from Canadian artists from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including an iconic portrait of Louisa Pipkin and a series of new portraits of members of the Black community by lead artist Gordon Shadrach.
The Underground Comedy Railroad
When: Feb. 11
The Underground Comedy Railroad is bringing back its annual Black History Month tour across Canada this month, and Toronto is one of their stops! The group features Black comedians from across the country, including tour co-founders Rodney Ramsey and Daniel Woodrow, and is known for being the first ever all black comedy tour in the country. They’ll be performing at Comedy Bar West, along with a stop at The Rose Theatre in Brampton on the same day.
The Black Diamond Ball
When: Feb. 25
For the past 7 years, The Black Diamond Ball has brought together the Black community and supporters to celebrate the community’s accomplishments and honour individuals who have excelled in their respective fields. This year, the event will be in-person at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and will be recorded live to be televised on CityTV. Tickets cost $175 before Feb. 14, but prices go up after that, so grab yours now.