Artery transforms common spaces into performance stages. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTERY TORONTO

From the salons in Paris to the basement clubs in London, small, communal spaces have long been breeding grounds for artistic trends and movements. As Toronto embraces its newfound cultural relevance, various art scenes are buzzing; from hip hop to theatre or poetry to ballet, there is something happening everywhere.

Now is a time to be excited to participate and support each other as artists and neighbours. Artery is a new online platform dedicated to bringing artists together with spaces and audiences, with the aim of inspiring and supporting people to create art.

Artery users can sign up to the platform as a host, a performer, or an audience member. Shows are posted on the site, and a limited number of tickets are put up for sale — enough for people to fill the small venues.

According to co-founder Salimah Ebrahim, the idea of interaction between artist and audience has been around for a while. “The basic idea is not new — from Mozart playing in living rooms to the Harlem Rent parties of the 1920s. What we are doing is building a platform that makes it easier… for artists, hosts, and audiences to connect with each other and make these showcases happen,” Ebrahim explains. Ninety-five percent of Artery’s profits go to the artists and the host.

Toronto is one of Artery's pilot cities. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTERY TORONTO

Toronto is one of Artery’s pilot cities. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTERY TORONTO

The events themselves have an intimate, almost party-like feel; the easy-going environment allows for connectivity amongst all in attendance. After the show, you may suddenly find yourself conversing with the person who had just performed their poetry or stand-up comedy, as if they were someone you’d met at the punchbowl of a house party.

 “So much of a city’s creative life is invisible and hard to access…With Artery, we believe there is room for more intimate experiences and even experiments”

This May, an event called Dirty Laundry Poetry came across my News Feed on Facebook. The thought of a poetry slam in a laundromat seemed exciting; a mundane space was to be taken over by art. People were gathered inside, the audience side-by-side with the performers.

I recently attended another Artery gathering: a ballet performance and a short film playing simultaneously in the garden of a house in Leslieville. It felt strange walking into someone’s house as if it were a gallery or stage.

As I stood watching the ballerina perform a few feet in front of me, I felt a connection to the art that I had never experienced before. The show featured some up-and-coming talents in ballet, yet it felt like a backyard party. The intimacy enhanced the performance for everyone, and after the show was over, there was a shared cosmic energy in the garden.

Toronto is one of Artery’s pilot cities, and while it is still in beta, the platform has plans to come alive around the world, from Brooklyn to Beirut. Performances by accomplished artists are featured amongst low-key musicians and poets looking to create a night of unity and expression.

Artery is a platform to be utilized by those looking to experience culture, as well as those who have something to offer and to share with others.

As Ebrahim put it: “So much of a city’s creative life is invisible and hard to access. Or rather we are often only invited to connect with creators across an orchestra pit. With Artery, we believe there is room for more intimate experiences and even experiments—to perform some bluegrass on a stoop, or to see your backyard as a place where a poet can test out some new lines.”

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