Local bands meet philanthropy to make music Local bands meet philanthropy to make music
From alternative rock to funk-influenced electronic music, March 2 The Funk IV is a six-night festival held across the GTA in six different venues... Local bands meet philanthropy to make music

From alternative rock to funk-influenced electronic music, March 2 The Funk IV is a six-night festival held across the GTA in six different venues featuring 25 local acts. Hosted by The Cosmic Circle, an Oakville-based event coordinating company, the festival wraps up on Sunday with a fundraiser for YMCA Sprott House, at Bovine Sex Club.

YMCA Sprott House is Canada’s first transitional housing program catered to LGBTQ2S homeless youth. According to The Homeless Hub (a York University initiative), those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and transsexual represent up to approximately 40 percent of homeless youth. For March 2 The Funk IV, the Cosmic Circle wanted to find a place that helped people in Toronto that hit a particular kind of demographic –, particularly with the LGBT2SQ community.

For Sprott House, which has only been open for about two and half years, Carlos Mallia, founder and president of the Cosmic Circle, said some issues needed to be addressed.

“They said they needed restoration,” says Mallia of Sprott House, on Walmer Road in the Annex. “It’s an old Victorian home falling apart, so we’re raising the money for restoration.”

The silent auction fundraiser will also fund appliances for the house, including a new barbecue for people with dietary restrictions. There will be donations of local services, gift certificates and products across Toronto.

Vanessa Rago, the Cosmic Circle’s director of public relations, says that all the donating participants they reached out to share the company’s core values of inclusiveness, healthy living and overall respect.

Rago says, “We really believe in building local grassroots brands, exercising our freedom and utilizing our resources. As Canadians, we have access to a lot and should be able to spread positivity.”

Currently, the YMCA Sprott House program provides each person with a room with their designated washroom, allowing privacy and personal identity, as well as YMCA resources like drug addiction and counselling services. The problem lies in the house’s limited 25-person capacity: there is a four- to a five-year waiting list that makes it difficult for others to find safe spaces. Mallia says. “If you’re a male or female transgender, you can’t stay in an all-male room or all-female room, and there’s a lot of restrictions there.”

Through the fundraising event, he hopes to raise awareness about the demand for more shelters dedicated to LGBTQ2S all over Ontario and, eventually, across Canada. Asked how the city is addressing the issue, he says, “I think they’re not handling it, to be honest. Maybe through [the fundraiser], they can find that there is a need to help these residents specifically.”

What’s more, Rago says that the glamorization of Toronto’s pride community comes from the parade every summer. “It’s one thing to have an annual event that actually just attracts a lot of tourists and money to the city,” she explains, “and it’s another thing to implement these values in business and overall standards of living.”

The Cosmic Circle began as a band – called Cosmic Mojo – in 2013 and rebranded as event coordinators after realizing that people in the group had different skills to offer beyond playing music (such as graphic design and videography). They book concerts, host camps for youth as well as fundraisers, all primarily focusing on live music. Currently, the Cosmic Circle alternate shows between Hamilton and Toronto, with a goal of expanding to other Ontario cities soon.

For more information, visit March 2 the Funk IV, YMCA Sprott House, and Homeless Hub.

Mikee Mutuc