Happy Black Futures Month From Onika Powell, Artistic Director

Happy Black Futures Month!!!

Congratulations to all the Black artists in our city who are showcasing or
selling new art this month, or performing new work. Some of you are
gearing up to engage in public discussions and share your story. In
which, all are equally important and worth celebrating. As a Black
creative myself, February can sometimes feel emotional by the
oversaturation of stories of slavery and reflecting on how Black bodies
are still mistreated to this day. In some cases, the attention we
particularly receive in February can even feel a bit performative.
However, I am a champion of Black Futures Month and everything it
represents. Focusing on Black Excellence, we are learning and sharing
stories of the achievements of Black creators, innovators, leaders, and
activists across the world; the works of many that impact and shape
our livelihood and future.

If you have been following VIBE for the last 5 years, you are aware of
our NExT program. NExT – short for Network and Explore Together – was
built on the vision to build, connect and strengthen networks of Black
artists throughout the GTA. A program birthed directly from the
feedback of the Black artists on our roster, it was developed, with
barriers in mind, to increase the visibility of Black Youth Artists in public
Canadian exhibitions. Since its first iteration in 2019, each cohort of
participants receives multiple one-on-one mentorship opportunities,
and access to valuable programs and opportunities. Those involved in
the success of this program have a shared understanding, that
intentional programming is needed to create empowering spaces that
support upcoming Black youth artists to overcome the barriers they
face in the pursuit of artistic success.

If you are reading this, consider this your formal invitation to join us next
month in celebrating our newest cohort of Black youth artists for our
Black Futures Exhibition. This cohort has created new work that promises
to keep you engaged. Each with their own unique story, they are ready
to include you as part of their journey. With many thanks to our
long-term partner TO Live, we will be taking over Meridian Arts Centre
once again and we can’t wait to see you there! Stay tuned for more
details to come.

In the meantime, please be sure to take in the many activations that will
be taking place across our city this month, including our colouring book
creation workshop, lead by VIBE artist Camelle Davidson at the Toronto
Black Film Festival
. This is a family-friendly event and all are welcome.
Let’s continue to use every opportunity to create safe spaces to
educate all audiences, uplift the Black community, and encourage
everyone to keep this energy past Black Futures Month. Enjoy the
celebration and see you in March!