HAPPENING Multicultural Festival is the first and only Toronto festival created by community artists, giving center-stage to the talent and skills of immigrant, newcomer, and refugee artists. HAPPENING gave space to embrace the cultural richness of our city, while creating professional development opportunities for artists. It offered a platform for organizations to connect, and form meaningful collaborations. The 2022 year’s edition included one month of programming, 15 events for the community and around 150 artists involved in all of them.
*HAPPENING Multicultural Festival is produced by MUSE Arts.
Happening Through The Years
2021 - HAPPENING MULTICULTURAL LIVE: PUBLIC ART AND COLLECTIVE VOICE
With 2020’s previous experience, we felt comfortable enough to host another online festival. This gave us the opportunity to broaden our guest and speaker list!
HAPPENING 2021 festival took place during the entire month of May and brought together over 80 artists and performers belonging to diverse communities.
2020 - Happening Multicultural: Power of Community
2020 was a year of profound uncertainty. Like the rest of the world, our floor was shaken by the lockdown 2 months away from what we had originally planned to be our week-long festival.
In response to the realities of those unprecedented times, and in an effort to continue staying connected, working together, and supporting our communities, 2020’s Happening Multicultural Festival adapted to an online format.
With a combination of community activations and online events, Happening lasted a whole month. Our main community activation was based around “Doves of Peace”, a project where we encouraged the community to portray what “peace” meant for them in doves made out of canvas. This way we were able to spread messages of peace throughout our audiences.
We also hosted diverse online spaces where we discussed themes such as the price of freedom of expression, music education within communities, art and mental health. As always, we sought to bring exciting programming for everyone.
2019 - Happening Community and Identity Multicultural Festival
In 2019 we took a huge leap and, as our community was growing, we decided to go for a 4-day festival! From May 29th to June 1st, we had the participation of more than 140 artists in different art branches such as visual arts, community arts, poetry, dance, music and storytelling.
That year we also incorporated a space for organizations and artists to network. As you can see, doors kept opening year after year, and Happening was gaining momentum in Toronto’s artistic scene.
Those 4 days of festival were made possible with the sponsorship from Audiovisuals, Independent Curator, 918 Bathurst, Sbabe She’s.
2018 - Happening: Multicultural Evening in Support of Community Arts & Cultural Exchange in Latin America and the Caribbean
In 2018, we were hosted by 918 Bathurst. It was a successful year as the artists were already familiarized with our event and were anticipating their participation in it. We had wonderful artists, many of whom were refugees and newcomers to Canada. We opened the space for poetry, music, performance, art exhibition and a silent auction.
2017 - Happening: A Multicultural Evening in Support of Community Arts
Fast-forward to 2017, a concept was born after seeing the benefits and happiness this encounter brought to the people. Then is when Happening: A Multicultural Evening in Support of Community Arts was made official. The concept behind this event was to collect funds to have enough resources to keep doing our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as to be a Multicultural space that celebrated diversity and was extremely intentional about inclusion. We gathered again on May 19th 2017, this time to support Muse Arts programming.
We made an open call for artists to participate, however, we quickly realized one night was way too short for the amount of talent that approached us.
2016 - Where It All Began...
Back in 2016, the Mexican Cultural House suffered the impact of a fire. Significant emotional distress was caused in the community, and so we made a call to convene other artists and members of the communities to uphold our fellow artists in need. There were 3 key aspects to make this possible: collaboration, unity, and generosity.
HAPPENING Poetry Nights
A space to celebrate poets who, among other things, identify as newcomers, refugees, or immigrants. Every Thursday in May (5th, 12th, 19th, 26th), poetry night will feature three poetry readings and an interview.
A space where visual artists and community members will create, paint, and decorate 9 large-scale wooden pieces. These will later be on display at HAPPENING Multicultural Festival and fill our MUSE Arts Creative Lab with colour and life.
Our spaces for professional development provide community-engaged artists, educators, facilitators, and students with the necessary tools to expand their knowledge in the arts, pedagogy, and human rights, while connecting with and forming meaningful collaborations in the Toronto artistic scene.