AGO to end monthly First Thursdays party

Launched six years ago, the art event that's hosted performances by Patti Smith and Tanya Tagaq is bowing out of city's social calendar on February 7


After six years, the Art Gallery of Ontario is wrapping up its monthly late-night party, First Thursdays.

The February 7 edition, headlined by R&B musician TiKA, will mark the final event.

“After six years, over 800 artists and 130,000 party-goers, we are drawing First Thursdays to a close as we make way for something new,” the gallery wrote in a statement. “An exciting new after-hours event is currently in the works, but we’re not quite ready to tell you what it is.”

Started by former programmer Sean O’Neill as a way to attract a younger audience to the AGO and showcase major exhibitions, the event has become a staple on the arts calendar. Programmer Bojana Stancic fully took over the programming reins in 2015, deepening the gallery’s ties to the city’s indie music scene. Local and international musicians and DJs have performed the event, including Tanya Tagaq, Patti Smith, Andy Butler and Mykki Blanco. The party is focused around Baillie Court, while a variety of performances, pop-up talks and interactive installations take place throughout the gallery’s other floors.

First Thursdays was modelled on similar social and music-focused events in art galleries and museums around the world designed to attract new audiences to older institutions.

Similar parties in Toronto include the Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live and Ripley’s Aquarium’s monthly jazz night. In 2016, the Power Plant hosted a short-lived party series promoted by a collective of local electronic musicians.

The theme for the final First Thursdays is We Are Each Other’s Muses and focuses on perspectives and experiences of BIPOC, queer and femme-forward artists. TiKa will perform with special guests James Bailey and TIYAL. There will also be an art sale, an advice column-style Q&A with artist Dayna Danger, a meme-making workshop by Fallon Simard, a performance by Kiera Boult and the work of The Original Smiths, who makeretro, vintage and up-cycled clothing.”

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