It’s All Right Now was a public art project and a collective movement that confronted and captured our varied perspectives, experiences and understandings of life in COVID-19.
As COVID-19 took hold in 2020, slogans like “Stronger Together” dominated our increasingly digital lives. The idea that “we’re all in this together” offered us comfort in unity, but didn’t necessarily reflect the spectrum and rawness of experiences, thoughts, and feelings that individual citizens were inevitably feeling—particularly those in Toronto’s arts community whose practices and livelihoods continued to be heavily impacted by the crisis.
As Torontonians retreated to their homes, The Bentway felt it was more important than ever to reaffirm a commitment to shared space and to ensure that artistic voices remained present in the public realm. In response, we launched a new public art project entitled It’s All Right Now, commissioning Toronto-based artists to capture and reflect on our shared hopes, gratitudes, fears, melancholies, and joys—our “truths of right now”—with 30 new text and visual based works.
Featured artists included Quentin VerCetty, Ness Lee, Max Dean, Hiba Abdallah, Anne Michaels, Hazel Meyer, Bruce Horak, and Bekah Brown; along with a curatorial partnership with Canada’s Black Speculative Arts Movement that foregrounded Black artists as key voices in the project’s evolution.
It’s All Right Now manifested first on generously donated digital billboards across the city, including along the Gardiner Expressway and at Yonge-Dundas Square. Sites that, in “the before”, had been platforms for consumer marketing, were re-tuned for a newly honest and artist-driven dialogue. Launched in May and running through July 2020, It’s All Right Now also rolled out on Toronto’s streets, walls, civic landmarks, and digital public spaces; claiming the city itself as a canvas and employing public art to help drive our collective recovery.