Victoria’s arts scene is vastly made up of White creators, performers, musicians and audience members — that has always been the case.
Because of this, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) artists tend to feel tokenized and it is harder for them to feel like they’re a meaningful part of the scene, plus, it’s harder for BIPOC people to see themselves represented in the arts scene.
This week, two local promoters are putting on a show that will increase visibility of the Black, Indigenous and Queer communities, both on stage and in the audience.
The show has been dubbed ‘Afro-Disiac’ and will feature all Black and Indigenous artists who have been booked by the Black and Indigenous promoters.
Representing the under-represented
“So I’ve lived in Victoria for about seven years now and I’ve been going to a lot of shows for the past six years,” said Koby Andrews, one of the two promoters producing Afro-Disiac.
“As a Black Person of Colour in the music scene in Victoria and as an audience member, there’s like, not very much representation in the audience and often on stage, especially for Black people and I like to see that so I feel represented.”
Andrews has been volunteering at CFUV as the radio host of the show Hot Local Singles In Your Playlist and has been actively trying to pursue concert promotion on the side so that he can actively contribute to increasing BIPOC representation in Victoria.
For this project, Andrews combined forces with Indigenous promoter Jordan Koe, who produces shows as ‘Shoh.’
“That’s how it became an Afro Indigenous event, Jordan represents Indigenous, Queer communities in events like this,” explained Andrews. “That’s not something I represent, so if I was [producing this] solo, that wouldn’t have felt right.”
“It felt right to represent both of these communities as we are both of those communities in a very, very genuine and present way.”
Andrews and Koe have put their all into producing this show as a safe space for Queer and BIPOC communities and are ensuring everything they do to make this show safe and inclusive, is done so in a meaningful way.
Solidarity and meaningful action
One endeavour in particular that is unique to this show is setting up sponsorship opportunities for businesses and show-goers to pitch in for ‘solidarity tickets.’ These tickets are bought and paid for so that Black and Indigenous people who are interested in attending Afro-Disiac can have a free ticket available to them.
The solidarity tickets ensure that there will be plenty of representation among the audience and takes the burden off the Black and Indigenous show-goers to pay their way into a show that is being produced for them.
“They often don’t get to see as many people that they are represented by on stage,” Andrews told Victoria Buzz. “They have historically been marginalized and have varying roots to activist communities so we wanted to make it easily accessible and free to be there.”
Andrews explained that a lot of shows for BIPOC artists in Victoria that are booked by White promoters generally don’t encourage BIPOC attendance, aside from booking and paying the artists.
“In ways it feels like a disingenuous marketing tactic, kind of capitalizing on the Black Lives Matter movement and Indigenous Sovereignty movement and Land Back movements and stuff like that,” said Andrews.
“I thought representing these things as communities that we come from are a good way for us to create that space for people to engage in something that they want in a meaningful way — that they aren’t just seeing themselves tokenized on stage like that.”
Three downtown businesses, Whistle Buoy Brewing Co., Luna Collective and Habit Coffee, have donated to sponsoring 35 solidarity tickets for the event and donations from other showgoers have sponsored another 10 tickets so far.
This means that at least 45 Black and Indigenous folks will be able to attend Afro-Disiac free of charge.
Who’s playing Afro-Disiac
The show will be taking place on Sunday, July 30th, at the Victoria Events Centre in downtown Victoria.
The main attraction is a Black R&B pop-singer who goes by Quarterback. They used to be Victoria-based but are now based out of Toronto.
“Quarterback was based out of Victoria for five or six years, so definitely made a name for himself and a lot of people still hold him near and dear,” Andrews said.
Before he became known as Quarterback, Quinn Bates played in a band called Electric Sex Panther which was for a long time the house band at Canoe Brewpub.
“Without fail, they always drew a crowd,” Explained Andrews. “The band was really phenomenal, and they really centred Quinn as the highlight.”
Local drag legend, Peaches N Screams will also be at the show performing two surely iconic drag numbers.
“Who doesn’t get excited when they see Peaches perform,” Andrews said. “They’re one of Victoria’s best drag performers.”
“This is all about booking performers into a space where I’m not looking to just book a Black performer to fill that niche or fill that gap, but looking to book a Black performer so that they can be celebrated for every reason of who they are.”
In addition to Quarterback and Peaches N Screams, there will be two DJs who go by Djama and Njoki Njoki.
Each DJ will be taking the stage twice-over for an hour set before and after Quarterback with drag performances sprinkled throughout.
Both Quarterback and Njoki Njoki are both Black performers while Djama and Peaches N Screams are representing Afro-Indigenous communities at Afro-Disiac.
There are still tickets available online and there is an opportunity to contribute to a solidarity ticket at checkout which will allow more Indigenous and Black attendees to go to Afro-Disiac free of charge.
- Where: Victoria Events Centre, 1415 Broad Street
- When: Sunday, July 30th, at 9 p.m.
- Tickets: $20 in advance of $25 at the door, available online