The six people changing Pride

Festival curators bring new vision to bigger audiences

As Pride season draws closer, Pride Toronto has announced a slew of new festival curators for six stages around the city.

Six festival curators will be responsible for the sights and sounds on the stages across Pride Toronto. What was previously done by one person is now being overseen by a team of six: Ian Abinakle, producer and artistic director of the Green Space Festival; Bobby Beckett, who owned and operated West End queer bar The Henhouse; John Caffery, DJ and party promoter; Cecile des Vignes, marketing wiz; Brodie Metcalfe, Ryerson Students’ Union’s events coordinator; and Elise Milani, sound artist and promoter.

Mathieu Chantelois, Pride Toronto’s executive director, is excited for the new additions to the team.

“They’re all very different people, and to me, that was very important,” Chantelois says. “It’s important for Pride to have different voices, different inspirations.”

Space will also be given to feature performers and pieces from around the world, including Lebanon and Syria, he adds.

“There’s a huge amount of diversity here. Some were born in Canada, others born in countries around the world,” he says. “All of these people are art lovers, of queer culture, and all believe that Pride can change the world. And that’s exactly what an organization like us needs.”

The team of curators also means there is more than one person in charge. TK, the former arts and culture manager for Pride Toronto, is still a part of Pride, according to Chantelois, and will now be a team lead for trans initiatives at Pride.

“By having just one arts and culture manager before, we had the vision of one person — one great person — but our community is so diverse, that giving stages to wonderful, queer visionary people will make it so much better,” he says.

While there will be fewer stages for this year’s festivities, Chantelois says that events like Alternaqueer and SOY’s Fruit Loopz will now have a larger area to work with.

“A lot more people will be able to hear the voice of our youth and the alternative voices of our community,” he says. “Instead of putting our trans community on a small stage, I’m working very hard with all the curators to have strong trans representation every day, on every stage.”

Last year’s highly successful Drag On, a full-day drag performance that was hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Bianca Del Rio and featured fellow contestants Katya and Raja, will be returning — in a slightly different way.


“We’re going to try to break a Guinness record: by having the biggest drag show ever produced,” he says. “Right now, the record is only 55 drag performers. We can beat that, easy.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed Ian Abinakle as the former artistic director of the Green Space Festival. This has been rectified to reflect his current position with Green Space.

Andrew was formerly the associate editor for Daily Xtra.

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