The Art Gallery of Ontario is launching a block party.
Set to take place three times a year, AGO All Hours will replace the monthly late-night party First Thursdays, which ended in February after six years.
The all-ages event will run from 10:30 am to 11 pm and feature a wide variety of indoor and outdoor programming, including installations, art-making activities, artist projects, pop-up talks, live music and DJs.
The first one takes place on May 25 in tandem with the roll-out of the AGO’s new pricing – including free admission for people 25 and under a new annual pass – as well as the general public opening of a mirrored room by Yayoi Kusama that the gallery acquired for its permanent collection following a crowdfunding campaign last year.
Headliners include Mississauga-based artist and author Maria Qamar, aka Hatecopy, who will participate in a seated conversation in Walker Court at 4 pm, and Toronto singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim, who will perform at 8 pm in the same space backed by musicians and dancers. Afterward, DJs Dre Ngozi and Chippy Nonstop turn the event into a dance party.
Other artists set to appear throughout the day include house dance crew Warehouse Jacks dance artist Danah Rosales rappers Haviah Mighty and Dijah SB craft artist Kalpna Patel (AKA Ghostfaceknitta) and DJs Gonnie Garko and Cam Lee.
The idea is attract a broader audience than First Thursdays, which started six years ago as a way to bring in a 20-something demographic into the gallery.
AGO CEO Stephan Jost told NOW that First Thursdays had lost its “cool factor” and it was time to reinvent. All Hours will also serve as the official launch for each new season at the gallery.
“I don’t mind a great party, but we’re not a nightclub,” he said. “We’re doing really well so maybe now is the time to focus more on our mission.”
Admission to AGO All Hours is free for visitors 25 and under, annual pass holders and members, and $25 for everyone else. There will be in-and-out privileges throughout the event. The next parties will take place on October 26 and January 18.