A queer arts and performance festival has been called off for a second time, victim once again to the city strike, now in its 11th week.
“Profoundly disappointed, almost disheartened” is how Joanne Ursino describes the mood of the Pride in Art Society after it made the decision to pull the plug yet again on its show, Gender Twist, that was initially supposed to begin a 16-day run at the Roundhouse Community Centre on Jul 30 to coincide with Pride festivities.
But when city workers began strike action in the last week of July, they closed facilities like the Roundhouse, effectively putting the kibosh on the festival that would have showcased the work of some 25 artists.
Pride in Art rescheduled, never expecting the community centre to still be closed in late October.
“But with no end in sight to the strike, we can’t confirm the venue, we have no guarantees,” says Ursino.
The board is planning to hold its AGM in January —”an opportunity to pull together the performance and visual arts community and ask for their insights concerning our next step.”
Asked if they considered an alternative venue for the show as strike negotiations continued to stall, Ursino says the Society did look at a couple of options but, ultimately, the Roundhouse is perfect from the standpoint of tradition and logistically.
“We’ve had it at the Roundhouse for actually the last 10 years. It’s a community space, it’s a large space. We couldn’t really visualize trying to mount the show in a different space or breaking the show down and having it in different locations. It had to go together.
“We really wanted to offer something to the community that created conversation and would move the discussion forward on issues around gender identity and the intersection with our queer communities,” Ursino elaborates. “It was a show that had issues that cut across an analysis around race, around age. It was edgy. I imagine what it would have been like, and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to pull [that] back.”