Spur Festival asks what well risk to make social change

THE SPUR FESTIVAL April 6 to 9 at various venues. $15, stu $10, festival pass $100. spurfestival.caRisk our willingness.


THE SPUR FESTIVAL April 6 to 9 at various venues. $15, stu $10, festival pass $100. spurfestival.ca

Risk our willingness to take risks or the temptation to avoid them has become top of mind these days. As fears of terrorism hamper our movements and the rise of populist leaders one in particular has deterred some of us from crossing borders, its fitting that the Spur Festival of art, politics and ideas has made risk one of its central themes. Here are some festival highlights.

Sunday (April 9), 3 pm, Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex.

Whats the deal with Trump and his cronies when it comes to Russia? A day doesnt go by without another revelation about a member of the administration cozying up to the guys who might have influenced last Novembers election. If theres anyone who can shed light on this weirdness, its Masha Gessen, a Russian-American journalist and the author of several critical books about Russia. She delivers a talk on the subject including her views on the implications for Canada and then sits down with Anna-Maria Tremonti (from CBCs The Current) for an onstage interview.

Sunday (April 9), 10:30 am, OISE Auditorium, 252 Bloor West.

Theres no question that just about everythings changing in the media world, and thats creating risks for both journalists and publishers. Ill be hosting a panel with Daniel Dale, who thought hed seen it all while covering Rob Fords tenure as Torontos mayor until he became the Toronto Stars Washington reporter in the age of Trump. Also on the panel, Vicky Mochama of Metro News, whos written powerfully about gender and race and Catherine Wallace, Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, whos been studying the impact of social media on investigative journalism and more.

DENHAM JOLLY In The Black, My Life, Friday (April 7), 5:30 pm, Yorkville Public Library, 22 Yorkville

His event isnt part of Spurs risk series, but theres no question that Denham Jollys battles against systemic racism since the 60s have carried high stakes. He may have been successful in his business ventures, but the discrimination he faced led him into intense social activism. He worked for 12 years to get a licence for a Black-owned radio station in Toronto. In 2001, Flow 93.5 became the model for urban music stations across the country. Jolly talks about his new book In The Black a chronicle of his and other activists lives on stage with writer Bee Quammie.

Saturday (April 8), noon, Gardiner Museum, 111 Queens Park.

Innovation in health care always sounds good on the surface. Technological advances have created optimism in some medical circles. Chemotherapy that targets individual tumours could replace treatments that cause massive collateral damage 3D printing could help replace diseased organs. On the other hand, Parliament is debating the issue of mandatory genetic testing for insurance purposes. Neil Fraser, CEO of Medtronics Canada (inventors of the pacemaker), and Sacha Bhatia, leading cardiologist and health policy researcher at Womens College Hospital, ponder whether these advances will save us or trample on our privacy rights.

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