Toronto has always had a thriving arts community but with all the cut backs in education, public schools are left with less and less opportunity to teach and explore through the arts and as a result, there has become an increased need for organizations that focus on teaching, supporting and promoting arts and culture. A couple of initiatives inspired by Toronto's infamous 'Summer of The Gun' include The Remix Project and Youth Day Toronto who both work to create opportunities for youth in the arts through ongoing workshops, talks and live events.
There are also larger organizations who's focus is helping not just youth, but all artists and the general public to 'live with culture' and Culture Days is one of them. For five years now Culture Days has been encouraging people to create, participate and celebrate arts and culture and one new Toronto initiative inspired by this is Mateca Arts.
Mateca Arts Festival is a new multi-disciplinary event that brings together Latin American and Canadian artists in a diverse way. Event founder Teresa Ottens has rallied together individual artists and teams of university students from Latin America and Canadians inspired by Latin or Aboriginal culture, to analyze the cross sections of these cultures. The participating artists' works are also heavily focused on the impact that we have on the environment and how toxic our human touch has been to nature.
The Inaugural event took place June 7-8 in the Burwash Quad of Victoria College, on U of T's campus and was an eclectic sight to behold, full of music, dance, live painting and technology inspired works all centred around the theme of Earth & Water.
"There are already so many beautiful arts festivals in Toronto but I wanted to do something that was more conceptual and being an artist concerned for the environment, I wanted to find a way to create a festival that supported this in a new way."
Mateca explores our impact on the environment by presenting live music by Latin and aboriginal performers, while live paintings are created on site at the same time that the public are invited to interact with technology and nature pieces, including a robotic walking bush.
All of the participating artists took unique approaches to interpreting the festival's theme, from dinosaur sculptures stuffed with neon lights and garbage, to nature paintings abstracted by toxic environments and interactive pieces that included both nature and technology and changed when humans interacted with them. It's safe to say that Mateca truly does take a new spin on art events.
With all of the art festivals and events that take place in Toronto, it is easy to be skeptical of new arts initiatives but after chatting with Mateca Arts Festival founder, Teresa Otten I bet you too will feel inspired to check out Mateca Arts and even participate in next year's event.