We dedicate this festival to the memory of Graham Franks, Sarah Randall, and Lisa Simard, Hillsiders whom we loved and cherished

There are a lot of stories created on this land, and this edition of our Hillside summer festival attempts to bring you a sampling of what artists and thinkers, musicians and dancers, writers and drummers, crafters and dreamers want you to hear and see for this special weekend.  We are honoured by their heartfelt contributions during this extraordinary time.  Historically, pandemics have compelled people to pause, look differently at the past, and reimagine the world for the future. This one appears to be no different. It is a threshold, a doorway between one world and the next.  And the artists we offer here this weekend are choosing to cross that threshold, ready more than ever to imagine a new world. 

With 37 Songs for a New World—one of the festival projects you’ll see this weekend—we are building on our years of showcasing activist musicians and artists who are passionate about countering hate in our world, telling stories that need to be told, rallying for change, and celebrating what works, what’s right, beautiful, stimulating, and heartful.  This year, to celebrate our 37th birthday, we asked 37 artists to sing a song about what they want for the world, so together we can build a new world with their guidance as “unacknowledged legislators” of humankind.   As Rev Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou wrote in The Task of the Artist in the Time of Monsters, “When the present obscures the future and undermines the past, artists are diplomats between the world that was, the world that is and the world that is to be.”

In standing at the threshold between the world that was and the world that is to be, we also wanted to reflect at this year’s festival on a few special moments of the past that we would like to keep, to take with us as we move into such an uncertain future.  As you’ll see, Now and Then is a project that takes footage from past Hillside performances that were strange, beautiful, powerful, or somehow more meaningful than usual, and mixes that footage with interviews with the artists involved.  We are just getting our feet wet with this project, so keep an eye out for future iterations.  Better yet, let us know what Hillside performances were special to you and why.  We’ll try to dig them up.

This festival was put together when we breathed bewilderment.  Our north star all along has been our vision and mission, which guide us to serve you by inspiring creativity and equality, stewardship of the land, altruism, and peacemaking.  We have a lot of people to thank for helping us metamorphose into an online phenomenon while we tried to make sense of the pandemic’s threat to humanity.  The hard work of our healthcare heroes, frontline workers, government leaders, funders, epidemiologists, and public health staff have helped us understand how we all have a part in protecting one another.  We are incredibly grateful to them.  Our volunteers, Board of Directors, committees, staff, and partner organizations have all contributed dizzyingly quickly to the task of rallying artists and community members to contribute their art, wisdom, and soul-comforting practices to this festival—and all from the privacy of their living rooms, bedrooms, balconies, and laundry rooms.  We are grateful to people like Heather Johnston, a beloved volunteer, who has cheered us on:  “As we travel through these strange times you have nurtured and built our beloved event anew.  I appreciate how you always make sure my Hillside is protected and presented with deep love and caring.”  So, even as the virus proliferates, who could not be thrilled by such faith, by the demonstration that creativity thrives in spite of a pandemic, by the strangely wonderful fact that the planet has calmed as traffic dwindles, pollution belts shrink, global emissions drop, and skies fall silent?  We can hear the birds singing now more than ever; we can see the stars at night; foxes and deer are wandering our uncrowded streets.  And in the midst of these times, we give you Hillside Homeside, and welcome you to cross the threshold into tomorrow with us.

Keep your loved ones close.  Happy Homeside.


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