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Queer West Arts Festival Call Out for Entertainers for
Outexpressions: Wednesday December 1, 2010 Toronto ON. Think
you’ve got what it takes to thrill the masses in Queer Toronto? Or maybe you’ve
got a favourite local band or DJ you would like to recommend? Either way, The
Queer West Arts Collective (Festival Entertainment Committee) is interested
in what may have to offer us? We will NOT be paying for your travel costs, accommodations
or extra equipment you may need.
Queer West Arts Collective (Festival Entertainment) is looking for a good
mix of upbeat acts that will have broad appeal to the diverse segments of our
We are doing our part to make the festival successful. Over the Winter / Spring
months from December to May. A 5 member Gen-Y arts collective grant writing
team, will be busy writing grant applications; seeking local, corporate sponsorship
and private donations to fund the festival.
Performers and DJs will be asked to submit descriptions of their acts, website
URLs, or other promotional materials (pictures, pdfs, videos etc.) to be considered
by the four-member committee. The committee will select performers based on
type of act, performance quality and audience appeal. Deadline to apply
to be a entertainer or DJ in Queer West Arts and Culture Festival is
July 15, 2011.
Confirmations will be made in April, May & June, late application
in July (ASAP) (May, June and July we will be nailing down and fine
tuning :: Event dates, venues and performance schedules.
TheFestival will run From Monday August 8 to Sunday August 14th, 2011
Queer West Arts Festival has expanded its marketing and outreach efforts with
the goal of increasing attendance and corporate sponsorships for the 11-year-old
Send Entertainers details to Queer West Arts and Culture Festival, Write
or call 416-879-7954 firstname.lastname@example.org
Step out of the ordinary and do it in the Queer West
If you queer it, they will come
Toronto November 12, 2010. By Keil Longboat, 3rd year Undergraduate,
Ryerson University School of Journalism. A majestic brownstone towers above
the rest of the buildings on the strip, and on the steps of the historic Gladstone
Hotel sits Michel F. Paré, waiting to begin a bicycle tour through Queer
West Village—Toronto’s new and burgeoning queer entity. Skies are clear on this
particularly beautiful Friday in early October. It’s sunny and 23 degrees and
perfect for showcasing this new gay village, taking form as an alternative to
the Church-Wellesley Village.
Queer West is two things: a neighbourhood and an organization
serving the West end arts community. From a grassroots movement to a thriving
new queer community, it paints a picture of Queer as possessing substance—creative,
talented and meaningful. But the independent organization is only in its second
year of operating, facing some uphill challenges, and the village itself is
still being established in terms of identity and visibility. Being the underdog
and antithesis to Church Street, it remains to be seen if it can hold its own,
and if success is forthcoming.
The journey on wheels starts off from The Gladstone (1249 Queen W), a hot spot
and an unofficial epicentre of the neighbourhood. Pedals are kicked into gear
and Paré, acting as tour guide and local historian, leads the way out west.
Paré is very knowledgeable about the village and its history. He is very much
the expert—matter-of-fact and passionate.
Heading along Queen Street West into Parkdale, he stops at Rhino Bar and
Grill (1249 Queen St. W.), just after Dufferin Street. Rhino, and
other favourite haunts within the vicinity, make this a stomping ground for
local queers. If you find yourself in this particular area on a Thursday, Friday
or Saturday, the place is booming. Indeed, queers are on the influx in the neighbourhood.
The west end is flourishing and increasingly feeling like a safer space, because
it is a queering space. But that was not always the case. “Ten years ago,”
Paré says, “there was nothing in the area, then gradually people began to come
Paré started the organization in 2000 to serve this growing niche community
in the west end. The group developed and went through some name changes, and
in 2008, it was incorporated as a not for profit organization, thereafter to
be known as Queer West. “When we incorporated, we decided that we didn’t
want to be like a 519 city-run community centre. We wanted to be more devoted
to the arts community,” Paré says. The group caters to the arts community
through performance arts events, workshops and the Queer West Arts Festival.
Like the organization, it evolved from its beginnings in 2001 and was renamed,
officially becoming Queer West Fest in 2006. Now, Queer West Fest is really
making a name for itself, seeing its most successful run this summer. “This
festival was the best festival we’ve ever held,” Paré says. Even
National Post acclaimed the maturing festival in an editorial as an
“arguably more substantive event” than Pride. Most substantive,
the whole festival was put on by community sponsorship.
What makes Queer West different is that it’s not a tourist destination centre
like Church Street, but more a connect-the-dots network of queer businesses,
venues and popular hangouts that together make up Toronto’s second largest queer
neighborhood. Because the neighborhood is a system of connectivity, queers
in the community are reliant each other to know where to gather. “There’s no
central place, every place holds its own events,” Paré says. “The community
knits together by spreading the word.” It’s about social networking in
the living world.
Kick starting the pedals back up, Paré cycles on west along Queen Street.
There is an appeal and allure to the neighbourhood, that keep people coming
back, and settling down. “I think the reason people come to this area is
cheap rents and it’s kind of bohemian,” Paré says. The rents are in fact
cheap, generally, going for as little as $450-$600, depending where and how
you look. The area is filled with older houses, and according to Paré, a lot
of younger people under 30 seem to like moving into the rooming houses. Rooms
are more in abundance than apartment complexes in Queer West, and can easily
be found on online classifieds like Viewit.ca.
Those houses can be spotted down side streets, mixed in with all the charm of
Queen Street West as it rushes by on bike. The town-house feel of the old brick
storefronts, fruits, vegetables and flowers set up outside markets, enflamed
leaves falling from trees that line the streets. Streetcars drag by. It really
feels like a different part of town; things seem less hustled. The most noticeable
difference: you can spot the gays and lesbians amongst the families. Queers
mixed in with children, parents pushing baby strollers, and old men sitting
and nonchalantly watching them all go by.
The boundaries of Queer West are not designated officially, but mainly border
College Street south to King Street, and Spadina Avenue west to Roncesvalles.
Businesses have adapted, learning to cater to the increasing queer clientele.
There are now 6 queer-owned businesses established in the community, but are
not exclusively gay places. Business owners prefer to keep their doors open
to everyone. So there are about 70 “queer-friendly” businesses that welcome
After Lansdowne Avenue, the tour leaves Queen Street, turning right and heading
north up Sorauren Ave. At Mitzi’s Café (100 Soraurin Avenue), one of
the six queer-owned places, two stylish gay boys, whose outfits seem to coordinate,
sit together outside. A tan guy runs by with a tight body and even tighter,
tiny shorts. It’s kind of odd to see queer people outside of the Church-Wellesley
Village. They seem out of their element here, but that is increasingly no longer
the case. Continuing North up the West most perimeter of Queer West, a right
turn is made at Dundas Street, now heading East into Brockton Village.
Paré pulls up to the curb and locks up his wheels at NACO Gallery Cafe
(1665 Dundas St. W.), another one of the six queer-owned operations. Inside,
owner Julian Calleros talks about the attitude of welcoming everyone. Unlike
the Church Street scene, here he has observed queer families moving in, and
seeing their children. “There is no feeling of being uncomfortable,” he
says, “It’s not ‘I’m hanging out with the breeders,’ or ‘I’m hanging out with
the gays.’ It’s ‘I’m hanging out with the community.’”
A few places over from NACO’s, continuing East, Paré again pulls over, this
time for West Side Stories Video (1499 Dundas St. W.) just before Dufferin.
Co-owner Tanya White echoes that there is more inclusivity and diversity.
“You feel it, you see it when you’re walking around this area,” she says.
“There is more happening and more events for (queer) women in this area.” On
the way to the video store, sure enough, sitting outside a café were a few women,
who were safe to assume were lesbians. A rare sight in gay male-centric Church
Street, but does more lesbians really make it more inclusive?
Nedal Sul a Toronto video producer,, who once lived in the
Church Street neighbourhood, and who also experienced the Queer West scene,
has a flipside view. “I felt like it was a subculture of some sort, that
was not interested in having anyone else who resembled anything close to Church
Street,” Sul says. “It wasn’t all bad…but overall I felt there was
another type of cliquey-ness.” Paré is aware of this.
“There’s some people downtown that get the idea that we’re exclusive, and
that we have no interest in downtown,” Paré says. “I don’t look on it like that.”
He says when starting Queer West, he tried to involve the traditional
village, to work as community partners. “But they wouldn’t go for it,”
he says. “It’s business, they’re are kind of proprietary. We don’t exist.” The
bike tour comes to a finish, and Paré cycles on his own way.
Five days later, full circle back to Rhino’s, a Queer West board of
director’s meeting takes place. Of the items on the agenda is Queer
West Fest and difficulties organizing it and securing funding. Overall, Queer
West has a long road ahead in establishing itself as an up-and-comer, with an
uncertain future being so low on the totem pole. Jaclyn Isen, treasurer,
says she would like to see increased volunteerism from the community
to help put on events. According to Isen, with community cultivation and everyone
putting energy forth, Queer West slowly does grow and visibility gains. “I’ve
seen a really exciting and fast evolution of it in the one year I’ve been involved,”
Isen says, “so I think there is absolutely a lot of promise to see it grow more.”
For now, Queer West is sticking to its bohemian roots (the meeting is at the
back of a bar, after all). But Paré hopes to get Queer West out of the bars
and onto the streets. After the meeting is adjourned, the members disperse out
onto the street.
And at that moment, on a Wednesday night in mid-October, two leather daddies
walk by in full-on black gear, holding hands, looking like they just stepped
out of the Black Eagle off of Church Street—but this Parkdale,
in Queen West. Wherever Queer West is headed into the next decade, Paré’s vision
seems to be manifesting.
If you queer it, they will come. And the queers have.
Pride Toronto Community Advisory Panel holding public meetings
Outexpressions November 5, 2012 - A public meetings will be held at:
The 519 Church Street Community Centre, (Thursday). December 2, from 7pm to
9 pm; Gladstone Hotel (Saturday). December 4, 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm; Bennett Lecture
Hall, Flavelle House, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (Monday) December
6, 7 pm to 9 pm and the Trans - Pride: Community Advisory Forum, The 519 Church
Street Community Centre, (Thursday) December 9 from 7 pm to 9 pm.
The Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is composed of 9 people: Rev.
Dr. Brent Hawkes CM, Chair, Angela Robertson, Michael Went, Nichola Ward, Andre
Goh, Douglas Elliot, Lorraine Weinrib, Kavita Joshi and Raja Khouri. PRIDE Toronto
has asked CAP to consult with the communities and recommend back to PRIDE ways
to move forward in a variety of issues.
Targeted Consultations with as many interested groups as possible. If
your group would like engage in a consultation please email the panel here:
Online Survey is being developed with detailed questions on various issues.
The link to the survey will be live shortly. The Panel is looking forward to
receiving your input and creative ideas for moving forward.
Queer West Arts and Culture Centre Board of Directors, are not participating
in the Pride committee consultations, it has nothing to do with us. We have
our ten day queer arts festival.