We love a good art takeover, and Long Winter, the all ages music and art party, hosted for four years at its home base The Great Hall, is legendary for transforming historic spaces all over the city into immersive one-night-only festivals. And great news! It’s next stop is the Gladstone.
On January 6th, LW will be bringing their magic and wildness into our space to warm up your start to 2017. Facebook event HERE. We spoke to one of the event’s founders, Mike Haliechuk, to learn about how LW got started and what you can expect on the 6th.
What’s the story of how Long Winter came about?
My band Fucked Up was coming home from a tour 5 years ago and we needed to plan a big local show. We didn’t want to just do a typical club show so we came up with the idea to do it as a larger community event with all kinds of art. We round-tabled with a bunch of our friends and came up with Long Winter.
How did your original vision measure up to what the event is really like?
Originally each night was going to have a theme, but that ended up being too hard to plan with all the moving parts. I think the idea was to never really be able to anticipate how each one would feel, which i think still holds.
What do you think is the big appeal of this event to the public? What does Long Winter do differently from other events or festivals you’ve encountered?
Hopefully it’s more accessible than a normal concert, and more fun than a normal gallery experience. The point is that you make it your own event and experience because of all the choices you have to make. It’s basically free, there’s too much stuff to be able to see everything, so it really is up to you to decide how much you are going to value and take from the night.
Can you tell us a bit about the curation process? How do you facilitate or build synergies between artists from various disciplines participating in the event?
That just happens. We don’t put a lot of forethought into making things work together or make sense, because the important synergy for us is what happens between art and audience. We curate mostly from our communities – friends, artists we know and respect. Our value isn’t from getting the biggest artists or bands, but the ones who are on the cusp of something great, or who can be receptive to the kind of insane atmosphere at a Long Winter event.
Why was an all-ages policy important to you? What are some of the other guiding values and principles to the event? Did these evolve over time or were they important to you from the beginning?
From the start, the most important part about the event was access – all ages, pay what you can, etc. I like that it skews towards a younger crowd, because it’s at that age when art affects you the most, and can help you become what you end up becoming. I grew up in a small DIY punk scene in Toronto and learnt my artistic practice from squats, Who’s Emma, anarchist spaces, the Vazeleen parties. I think the wobbly, anarchic crazy party stuff is essential to the ‘feel’ of the culture in Toronto, and thats what we’re trying to pass along to the next generation of young artists and performers.
What are some of the most unbelievable things that you’ve seen happen at a Long Winter event, in your opinion?
The Galleria event not being a complete clusterfuck. My all time favourite installations were a guy dressed as a huge accordion, and the puppeteer who made tiny hot dogs.
What is one LW thing that hasn’t happened yet, but you want to make sure happens at some point?
A live documentary filming.
What are 5 keys to a successful first Long Winter?
1. Bring $10
2. Wear sensible shoes
3. Make a new friend
4. Pick up a program
5. Stay until the end
For artists of all kinds who are looking to be part of future iterations of LW, is there one thing that you look for in proposals above all?
Just something that is unique and participatory and passionate.
Tickets to Long Winter are $10 in advance or Pay What You Can at the door. Buy a ticket and skip the line. See you on January 6th!