Artist collaborative Throbbing Rose Collective kicked off 2018 Toronto Pride Month by unleashing their fifth instalment of the successful art festival NUIT ROSE. The sprawling event spanned from Queen West to the Village and featured more than 75 LGBTQ+ artists showcasing visual and performing arts.
This year’s theme, Unbound, sought to reach beyond borders, both literally and figuratively, attracting local and international artists who pushed boundaries with their work.
“NUIT ROSE is an attempt to locate queer and trans discourse, wherever it sits, and as it is being created by artists and art producers in the community,” said Zohar Freeman, member of the Throbbing Rose Collective. “As a festival, NUIT ROSE has attempted to address the lack of representation of diversity within queer and trans community projects. With this aim, we have deliberately sought out artists who may not have had opportunities to present their work before, giving them a showcase on the urban scale that cities like Toronto can provide.”
The festival’s dedication to diversity and providing a platform for underrepresented voices is one of the reasons Community One Foundation selected it for a 2018 General Rainbow Grant. “The funds allotted by the Rainbow Grant allowed NUIT ROSE to pursue its most ambitious year yet,” said Freeman, detailing how the festival was able to pay over 30 local and international queer artists industry-approved fees.
And the festival just keeps growing with more than 140 visual and performing artists applying to take part this year. The collective was also able to increase community involvement – the interactive Junkestra Petting Zoo was featured at the Church of the Redeemer, lino-cut printing classes led by artist Pearl van Geest were at the 519, and the famous Light Parade strut through the Village, open for all public to participate. Attendees could often find themselves in the artists’ presence at many of the installations.
“The festival presented more than 75 artists from Canada, U.S.A./Puerto Rico, Thailand, Germany and Belgium… in many cases, the artists were able to attend events and engage directly with audiences at NUIT ROSE venues,” said Freeman.
While taking in the art unites community, so does the creation of some works. Naty Tremblay’s project The Smiling Room gathered queer community leaders and organizers, projecting their video portraits on screen “walls” while they discussed the importance of happiness.
“[It] formed an amazing moment for community members, organizers, leaders, and artists to gather and meet,” said Freeman. “This is a great example of what NUIT ROSE aims to do: we employ our close relationships with community and venue partners to showcase a variety of unique purpose-built spaces for the presentation of emerging queer artists.”
Beyond the success of engaging community discourse and connecting people, Freeman describes the more personal achievements that came out of organizing an event such as this.
“NUIT ROSE has provided me the opportunity to grow as an artist by building amazing friendships with veteran and emerging queer artists and arts organizers in the city,” said Freeman, adding how it helped him develop crucial skills in everything from grant writing to production and technical execution. “I have also developed working relationships through NUIT ROSE – in fact, [it] led to my employment as a researcher at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for the last year and a half! Best of all, NUIT ROSE has really introduced me to the incredible diversity within our Rainbow Community, and a sense of accomplishment in giving back to this community I love so much.”
Congratulations to the Throbbing Rose Collective on another successful NUIT ROSE!