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About TTF

ABOUT TTF

The Toronto Taiko Festival (TTF) is the only recurring taiko festival in Canada! Envisioned and executed first in 2012 by members of RAW Taiko, what began as an earnest effort with little funding to uplift and connect regional taiko artists and audiences — as a response to the predominance of taiko festivals in the United States and the lack of a network amongst Canadian taiko artists — has turned into a recurring boutique festival with curated programs that share the joy and power of taiko for community building and self-empowerment at all levels of experience. From beginners to professional musicians, TTF offers something for everyone interested in coming to the drum. 

 

Toronto Taiko Festival, presented by RAW Taiko, consists of registration based workshops, free public learning opportunities such as panels, and a vibrant festival concert, each of which is animated by RAW Taiko’s artist-activist mission and mandate. Developed with anti-oppressive, queer and intersectional feminisms at heart, TTF is a unique offering to the North American taiko landscape.

HISTORY

In November of 2010, RAW Taiko, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council, brought Roy and PJ Hirabayashi to Toronto for a 3-day professional development intensive. Roy and PJ were the founding directors of San Jose Taiko, one the oldest taiko groups in North America, and are considered pioneers of the North American Taiko movement. They have won many awards including the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellow. 

A beautiful piece history is that we can actually trace RAW Taiko’s roots back to 1979 Powell Street Festival (PSF) in Vancouver, British Columbia, at which San Jose Taiko performed and inspired the formation of the first Japanese Canadian taiko group. PSF was founded in 1977 as a Japanese Canadian event for fostering cultural rehabilitation following wartime internment, displacement, and cultural violence. This historical context is important to understand as it speaks briefly to the histories and spirit of cultural resistance out of which taiko in Canada developed, and which we endeavour to continue to honour and uphold in TTF’s on-going programs. 

The 2010 intensive included a public panel discussion on social activism and taiko held at RAW alumni Izumi Sakamoto’s place of work in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Members of the panel included the Hirabayashis as well as Toronto’s own renowned taiko master, Kiyoshi Nagata, also on faculty at the University of Toronto. 

Another component of the 3-day intensive was a taiko drumming workshop open to the wider taiko community held in RAW’s rehearsal space at the time in Alexandra Park Community Centre near downtown Chinatown. The workshops were full to capacity with attendees representing 7 different taiko groups in Toronto, as well as one group from Boston. What became evident was a hunger to connect and develop as a community.

As a community arts organization with a strong mandate in community empowerment, RAW Taiko decided to take on the challenge of organizing the first Toronto Taiko Festival in order to harness and channel the positive energy discovered in 2010.

2012

TTF 2012 was the first dedicated taiko festival in Canada, and it explored perspectives on taiko, identity and activism. 

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2017

In 2017, TTF returned to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music facilities with the theme Exchanging Skills, Finding New Pathways, Building Community. 

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2022

TTF 2022, themed Womxn and Taiko, brought together Asian women and gender non-conforming taiko leaders from Canada and the United States. 

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2024

TTF 2024 will continue to explore timely questions with the regional community of taiko performers, audience members, and festival participants. As the current moment demands we take care of each other, TTF 2024 explores the space in between rage and hope; a space that beckons us to drum into action.

ABOUT RAW TAIKO

RAW Taiko, founded in 1998 as Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers, is an artist-run Toronto-based performing arts organisation made up of East and Southeast Asian women and gender non-conforming drummers. We carry on the diasporic Taiko tradition that grew out of Asian American and Asian Canadian participation in racial and gender justice movements of the 60s and 70s. One of the few Taiko drumming groups of its kind in the world, RAW Taiko exists as a critical response and challenge to both systemic and internalized oppressions. RAW Taiko plays large drums as creative resistance for social change, carving space for self-expression, education and community building.  

 

RAW Taiko is the proud organiser and founder of the Toronto Taiko Festival.

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