This summer the BIG on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture will once again be taking over Bloor Street West. This festival brings together artists, musicians and vendors to present their skills and offer their wares. For the entire day, a long and car-free section of one of Toronto’s busiest thoroughfares will be a hive of creative activity. Having drawn up to 100,000 guests in past festivals, this year marks a continued focus on local artists and artisans.
“The music community of Toronto is just endless,” says festival music director Kvesche Bijons-Ebacher. His past association with Darren Leu, the festival’s director and curator, at an art gallery/studio/performance space known as Creatures Creating, led naturally to his taking on this role. “I got involved [with BIG on Bloor]first to present production and performance workshops. From there my involvement kept increasing.”
“Darren joined the board of the BIG on Bloor Festival when it seemed like it was winding down,” Bijons-Ebacher said. “They were 10 years in, and the people who started it were in need of a new perspective. Darren brought that and it revived the festival.”
Through his work in the Toronto music community at large, Bijons-Ebacher already had a lot of the tools ready to go.
“My work as a musician in the community means it’s hard not to just go out and program my friends,” he says. “But we want to ensure that we provide a wide array of acts at various points in their professional career to the people of Bloordale Village.”
The pair aimed to modernize the programming and it seems to have paid off.
“The feedback has been incredibly positive,” Bijons-Ebacher says of the reaction from festival attendees. “The community is really responding to what we’re doing. Most of the performers live and work in the neighbourhood.”
This year headliners include R & B-hip-hop fusion singer Keynes Woods. “He’s originally from Ottawa but has been in Toronto for the past three or four years,” Bijons-Ebacher says. “He has a powerful energy and intense focus. To see a young performer working so hard on their craft and performance is really exciting.”
Up-and-coming vocalist Selene, who has a video and single dropping later this summer, will also perform. DJ/Producer Harrison will close the event with a sunset dance party. All these are mixed in among vendors and artisans set up in booths to help promote the local businesses of the Bloordale area.
“Of course, we’re still finalizing some of the programming. It’s the summer and schedules are hard to line up, but we’re certain we have something for everyone. Once everyone is finalized they’ll all be posted on our website.”
BIG on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture happens all day on July 20, 2019.