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Manifesto celebrates Toronto’s arts

In Arts, Education on September 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Ryerson image arts graduate and creator of Manifesto, Che Kothari, kicks off the first event of the festival on Sept. 20 with a youth dialogue featuring Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean. Photo credit: Stephanie Maris.

In just four years, the Manifesto Festival has changed from a grassroots community event to a Yonge-Dundas Square affair.

Manifesto, which ends on Sunday, was created by image arts graduates Che Kothari and Ryan Paterson. For seven days beginning Sept. 20, the festival is filling the city with art exhibitions, musical performances, dance competitions and workshops.

For Kothari, Manifesto is a culmination of his love for both the culture of the city and his desire to create a platform for local artists. He learned quickly that if you call, young artists will answer.

“It’s almost like a Trojan horse that brings people together,” said Kothari.

“We’re stronger if we unify.”

Kothari moved to Toronto 15 years ago after his love for photography brought him to Ryerson.

“Ryerson put me in a room for four years with creative thinkers,” Kothari said.

“I’ve always continued to strive to create a space like that.”

Both men credit their time at Ryerson for providing them with a lot of the skills required to run an arts festival.

The event has managed to grow and succeed over the years without straying from its original goal of providing the city with a non-profit grassroots arts and music festival.

In the past, the festival took place at Nathan Phillips Square, but Paterson says he feels moving to Yonge-Dundas Square will bring greater visibility and increased attendance. Paterson said Manifesto is a community-focused event meant to reflect Toronto’s artistic diversity. He is eager to expand while staying true to the existing template of the event.

For Kothari and Paterson, the real proof of its success has come behind the scenes. Their volunteer team has grown to nearly 250 people. At city hall, what began with 40 attendees has grown to 650 people packing the council chambers.

While Kothari and Paterson are both excited for this year’s festival, they said their passion lies with bringing a voice to local artists.

“We’re excited to reach out and include more of the city and populate it with authentic urban and arts culture,” he said.

“We really make an effort to connect grassroots with a high production value.”

* Published on Sept. 21, 2010 in the Ryersonian

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