Venus Fest goes virtual with Lido Pimienta, U.S. Girls and more

The local festival is shifting to an online conference and a series of original performance music videos


Venus Fest is going online this year.

Like so many other events, the Toronto festival with a mandate to support women and non-binary artists and arts workers has figured out a way to make programming COVID-friendly. Luckily, streaming concerts have evolved over the last six months well beyond the guitar-songs-at-your-desk model.

Taking place from September 28 to October 2, this year’s festival fully embraces the YouTube-iness of digital events. Musical performers are paired up with visual artists to create original live performance music videos that are available to stream on October 1 and 2. It’s all free.

Sook-Yin Lee hosts. Musicians include U.S. Girls, Lido Pimienta and Black Belt Eagle Scout along with Hand Habits, Ansley Simpson, Wild Black and Ceréna Sierra.

They’ll be paired with visual artists including Jamiyla Lowe, Lido Pimienta, Mohammad Rezaei, Monica Berger, Natalie King and Vanessa Rieger.

There will also be a “The Future of Music” online conference from September 28-30 on topics of financial literacy for artists, rebuilding local scenes, resilient labels and more. And there’s a mentorship program from October 5-10 in which artists and art workers can meet one-on-one with labels, agents, managers, funders, other artists, as well as specific streams by and for Indigenous artists and Black artists.

Venus Fest founder Aerin Fogel says she never expected to be doing this kind of event, but the way they’ve shifted it fits the mandate of the festival. Delegates are joining from a variety of different locations and they can reach more communities who can benefit. It’s a different feeling than being together in a room, she says, but it opens up a lot of new avenues.

“Creating a virtual festival isn’t something we ever expected to do, and our focus on safer spaces has taken on a new dimension in 2020,” she says. “But the unique and direct collaboration it’s allowed between musicians and visual artists is something I find very special, and a different way of creating an immersive multidisciplinary experience for audiences. Through free, online programming we can offer something highly accessible, and something lasting that people can come back to again and again, especially for audiences who don’t live in Toronto.”

More info at Venus Fest’s website.

@trapunski

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