The last two weeks have been hectic for Toronto-based artist Daisuke Takeya.
His work schedule has changed rather significantly since an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan on March 11.
“My ancestors came from Fukushima where the nuclear plant is,” Takeya said. “When I saw what happened, I wanted to do something right away.”
Takeya enlisted the help of Rafi Ghanaghounian, an independent curator, to put together an event for Japanese victims. With their combined affiliations to Toronto’s various artistic communities, the two have managed to bring together over 30 artists to present Ashita, Artists for Japan, a fundraiser that will be a venue for art, musical performances, poetry, photography, tea ceremonies and more.
“Everybody’s been great in terms of giving their time and effort into it,” Ghanaghounian said. “None of the artists are getting paid for their work. The musicians will be performing for free. Diasuke and I aren’t getting paid either. Because it’s not about us and it’s not for us.”
Born in Yamanashi, Japan, Takeya has always kept a close connection to his home country. His two-year-old son, a Canadian citizen, currently lives with his mother in Tokyo.
“They were quite afraid when the radiation was out,” he said. “But they’re doing their best to stay calm and live their everyday lives, just like everyone else in the country.”
Both Ghanaghounian and Takeya pointed out that several of the artists and performers featured in Ashita are of non-Japanese origins.
“A lot of our non-Japanese artists wanted to help,” Ghanaghounian said. “It just goes to show that there are people from all different backgrounds who have respect for Japanese culture, which is quite different from ours.”
Despite the extra workload, Takeya feels lucky to be able to take action and help his fellow countrymen in need.
“All our proceeds from the admission fee will go directly to Red Cross,” he said. “It’s a way for others within the community to give tribute to a country that’s trying its very best to handle a difficult situation.”
Ashita, Artists for Japan will be held in The Great Hall at Queen Street West on March 29 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.