One of the most resounding forces across the globe in the past year has been Black Lives Matter. While the group has existed since 2013 with the same goal of uplifting Black communities and drawing attention to police brutality, it was through the murder of George Floyd in 2020 that the movement saw global traction. And while the ongoing issues of justice and accountability are still a struggle to see met, the organization also finds ways to enhance communities globally, such as with the newly announced Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism in Toronto.
Named after the novel of the same name by author Octavia Butler, the Wildseed Centre was announced as having a new permanent location this past week. Located near the areas of College and Spadina, this inspiring new space finds its home in a 10,000 square foot Victorian home.
The city of Toronto has put $250,000 towards the project, which involves the transformation of the space by designers Tom Kuo and Helen Yung of Foundation Creative Studio—known for their immersive multi-media designs. Architecture will be directed by Bryan Lee of Colloquate—known for works focussed on protest and progress within New Orleans.
The executive team of Wildseed includes Ravyn Ariah Wngz, Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware, with their staff team comprised of Jessica Kirk, Imani Busby, Mila Natasha Mendez, and Yordanos Haile.
Hudson highlighted the value of having such a large, permanent location for the activities of the Wildseed Centre in a conversation with CBC News:
“Having a space like this that has a level of permanence, that is large, that allows for different types of organizations to come together and create community. It’s going to be a really, really big shift for Black Canada and Black Toronto.”
“Wildseed is a transformed industrial space,” the project’s mission statement reads. “A blank canvas reimagined as a multipurpose artist-run community incubator, gallery, studio and home to Black Lives Matter—Canada. Wildseed is a transfeminist, queer affirming space politically aligned with supporting Black liberation work across Canada.” Serving as an intersectional hub for both artistic and political ventures, it makes sense that the team behind Wildseed identifies with the appropriate and evocative term of “artivists.”
The value of communal spaces of artistry and political action cannot be understated. Especially in a market that has seen more and more art spaces close up over the past year, the fact that Black Lives Matter Canada has secured such an impressive space for the Wildseed Centre is a huge victory for the organization and the city. While it may still be early on, it is clear that this new space will be an inspiring force for creation and activism for Toronto and beyond.