Toronto-based producer and artist Ngozi Paul is onboard with the production of FreeUp on CBC television during primetime for Emancipation Day.
On August 1st, Canada is observing Emancipation from Slavery for the second year as the country acknowledges there was a time prior to 1834 that people of African heritage were enslaved in this country.
Paul whose credits include the Canadian sitcom “Da Kink In My Hair“, speaks on the connection between her work as a playwright and artist and Emancipation. She says FreeUp started as an open-mic, youth-led arts festival.
“It was really about creating a platform for artists to speak about freedom, to become civic engaged and start to have an understanding of their history. And then with that understanding, having a platform for self-expression and agency around it.”
Paul says FreeUp grew organically as they also give an award, the Rosemary Sadlier Freedom Award to an outstanding community leader and activist. This year the recipient is jazz-pianist Joe Sealy who will be performing on the tv special on August 1st from 6 p.m. MST.
“So it’s a two-hour special and the first part is the Emancipation Day celebration where we go to Emancipation Day celebrations across the country.”
Coming out of COVID-19, Paul discusses the role of art in healing societal divisions. She says the arts and creativity is for times such as these.
“When there is unrest, when there is division, when there is the need for change and transformation, I feel that the artist along with entertaining the community, the artist also has the opportunity by using our imagination to create art that opens people’s hearts.”
She concludes that with open hearts, comes open minds leading to dialogue.