By Betty Wondimu
Kardinal Offishall, Shad, and headliner Pharoahe Monch will be participating in a three-day hip-hop festival taking place this weekend in various venues around the downtown core, including Ryerson University.
Celebrating its sixth anniversary, Manifesto Festival of Community and Culture 2012 will run live performances by musicians, dancers and visual artists from Friday, Sept. 21 to Sunday, Sept. 23.
Day one will launch the festival at Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre and highlight the benefits of connecting and networking within the community. It will have a visual arts show, live DJs, dance battles and awards for the night’s performers.
Day two will be the Fresh Arts x Manifesto Summit that will feature free mentor classes from some of Canada’s most prolific hip-hop and R&B artists at the George Vari engineering and computing building. This summit will focus on giving up-and-coming artists an opportunity to interact and learn from people in the biz.
The festival’s final day will showcase a variety of performances live at Dundas Square, including a highly anticipated concert featuring Pharoahe Monch, BADBADNOTGOOD and other headliners. Aside from the concert, day three will also feature a walk down Yonge Street starting at the corner of Bloor and Yonge Streets at 3 p.m. The walk will honor the 20th anniversary of the Fresh Arts program that funded arts education for youth like Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black in the early ’90s.
“I’m super humbled, I feel like I’m still a mentee,” said Black. “It’s a cool feeling and us being around members of the community will show that we [as celebrities] are not untouchable.”
Manifesto’s executive director, Che Kothari, hopes to spark an initiative in Toronto’s youth to insist for the same opportunities and funding today.
“This year, we are going to be walking down Yonge Street in solidarity with the message that investing in youth, arts and cultural programs matters. We’d love to personally invite all Ryerson students and faculty to walk in solidarity with us and that message, if you believe in it,” Kothari said.
Ross Iaydjiev, visual artist and member of Toronto’s Graffiti BoxMen, says that as a first-time performer, he’s not only excited about gaining exposure for his craft, but also taking in the amazing atmosphere that will be present at Dundas Square this weekend.
“My favourite part of Manifesto is the energy. Once those artists start performing on stage and the whole crowd gets into it, it transforms Dundas Square and totally turns it into something else.”