On March 8, International Women’s Day recognizes achievements and advocates for gender equality. Here are four cultural associations in the city which do just that daily — plus women-focused Toronto museum exhibits, music festivals, and more.
Women deserve to be lauded daily — not just on March 8. That’s a fact the city’s known for a long time judging by its history of woman-led and -focused cultural organizations. From theatre and visual arts to music and film, check out the associations amplifying women’s voices and then read on to learn about the special events Toronto has planned.
Toronto Events and Organizations That Recognize Women
Forty-four years. That’s how long Nightwood’s been producing feminist works. It’s actually Canada’s oldest professional women’s theatre. But this Toronto theatre goes beyond staging productions. Nightwood facilitates the Groundswell Festival of new works and hosts an online writing room. It also runs the Nightwood Innovators program of digital and in-person meet-ups to equip participants with the building blocks to produce work on their own terms.
What’s coming up: Nightwood’s latest production, I Love the Smell of Gasoline, is on from March 8 to 19 at Aki Studio Theatre.
Women’s Art Association of Canada (WAAC)
Even older than Nightwood, this association’s been around since 1887. It’s spent the last 136 years supporting artists and the arts education through a scholarship program. Even if you aren’t a member, you can take advantage of some programs and art workshops that are open to the public. Located in the historic Yorkville neighbourhood, WAAC also offers a Toronto art gallery.
What’s coming up: The Association has a number of upcoming exhibitions such as Iwona Kmiec: Scent of Home from March 8 to 18 and Pushing Boundaries, a member exhibition, from April 5 to 22.
Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT)
The city’s long history of championing feminism extends to music as well. In 1898, a group of women musicians and music lovers founded the WMCT. Today, the classical chamber music presenter sponsors a recital series and provides performance opportunities and scholarships for young Canadian musicians.
What’s coming up: On April 6, experience live music in Toronto when WMCT presents Marion Newman & Friends at University of Toronto’s Walter Hall.
Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF)
North America’s only international competitive women directors’ festival, FeFF screens independent films and offers a cinematic perspective through the female eye. This Toronto festival also offers a script development program that’s open to all genders as well as masterclasses, workshops, and pitch sessions. If you’re in the audience at one of FeFF’s screenings, look forward to an audience Q&A.
What’s coming up: After celebrating its 20th anniversary at the TIFF Bell Lightbox last year, FeFF will return for its 21st edition from June 8 to 12.
More Things to do in Toronto that Celebrate Women
In addition to these local organizations and their events, there are plenty of other ways to raise your glass to the ladies. Here’s a few of them.
The Women Who Made Modern Art: Until March 13 (on select days), the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema hosts its Curious Minds speaker series. This iteration of the event explores the achievements of women determined to overcome obstacles to realize their creative visions.
Women in Song: On March 8 at Lula Lounge, experience a powerful international lineup of women vocalists, dancers, and musicians representing cultural traditions from around the world. They’ll collaborate live on stage in celebration of the incredible accomplishments of women around the world.
Women From Space Festival: From March 8 to 11, witness three days of performances by the visionary women of Toronto’s creative music, improvisation, and jazz scenes. It’s all happening at 918 Bathurst.
Being and Belonging: Pencil this bold exhibition coming to the Royal Ontario Museum in July into your calendar. It explores the defining issues of our time from the perspective of 25 women artists from, or connected to, the broader Islamic world spanning across West Africa to Southeast Asia or living in diaspora.
Words by: Izabela Shubair