City of Toronto restores Afrofest to two full days

A decision by the city to downsize.


A decision by the city to downsize Afrofest from two days to one has been reversed. 

On Wednesday night, March 23, a statement issued on Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon’s website said that the city and Music Africa, which runs the festival, had reached an agreement to grant Afrofest a permit for both July 9 and 10 at Woodbine Park. McMahon’s Ward 32 includes Woodbine Park. 

“All parties are committed to working together to ensure Afrofest is successful this summer and in future years,”  says the statement, signed by McMahon, Music Africa president Peter Toh and Richard Ubbens, director of parks, forestry and recreation. 

Last week NOW broke the news that the city had downsized the long-running annual African music and culture festival, citing noise and curfew violations. At that point, McMahon told NOW that “each year, there’s a new reason for [Afrofest] to keep it going [past the curfew time]. We kept trying to get them to comply and they didn’t. Everyone else seems to behave.”

Uproar was swift and intense, especially on social media where a #saveafrofest hashtag quickly caught on, and leading in part to the Black Lives Matter Toronto protest now into its third day outside Toronto police headquarters at 40 College. Among the list of demands made by BLMTO was for the city to lift the sanction against Afrofest in addition to, among other things, accountability for last July’s police shooting death of Andrew Loku.

“Afrofest organizers acknowledge that there were some permit violations related to past years of the festival and, the city admits to unclear communication regarding permit end times,” the statement continues. “With this agreement we look forward to a positive future for the festival and are committed to including Afrofest in the cultural and musical landscape of Toronto.”

The statement also says that the Toronto Music Advisory Council will offer its expertise to help ensure Afrofest and other music events avoid such problems in the future.

carlag@nowtoronto.com | @carlagillis

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