IF 2022: a 24-hour Festival of Improvised Arts… in just a click!

  • This “all-night celebration of the arts” will take place August 26-27, 2022 online and in-person (University of Guelph)
  • It will feature 150+ artists of all artistic disciplines from around the world.
  • Full artist line-up is available here.

The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at the University of Guelph announces the third annual edition of their 24-hour improvised arts festival: IF 2022

IF 2022 features an array of world-class artists, including jazz legends William Parker and Wadada Leo Smith; internationally renowned instrumentalists Evelyn Glennie and Susan Alcorn; acclaimed poets Lorna Crozier and George Elliott Clarke; a range of the most exciting composer-performers in Canada today, including Joyful Joyful, Markus Floats, Olivia Shortt, Gordon Grdina, Anh Phung, Matthew Cardinal, Pantayo, and Sarah Pagé; and dozens of amazing international performers from 15+ countries worldwide. Partner organizations sponsoring performances include Coastal Jazz and Blues (BC), Hillside Festival (ON), 17, Institute of Critical Studies (Mexico), Lasalle College of the Arts (Singapore), the Sonic Arts Research Centre (N. Ireland), and Elysium Gallery (UK).

Curated by IICSI director Dr. Ajay Heble (Founder and former Artistic Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival), IF 2022 will showcase a range of creators—including musicians, dancers, actors, poets, painters, filmmakers, and more—performing new, spontaneous works. Centred around the theme Towards New Futures: Improvising in Transition, IF 2022 will provide space to imagine (and re-imagine) our world, our relationships, and our communities as we emerge from the uncertainties of these tumultuous pandemic years.



Bop Spots asked Mr. Heble “how can a filmmaker improvise?”, and he commented that one example is live animation being created during live performances. “Different artists will respond in different ways… maybe it is that you don’t have a script when you’re making the film”, he added.

IF 2022 will feature a 24-hour online stream of filmed improvisational performances (available for free at improvfest.ca) as well as a special in-person/livestreamed closing performance by Toronto-based Japanese drum ensemble Nagata Shachu at Branion Plaza (University of Guelph) at 6pm (ET) on Saturday, Aug. 27. IF 2022 is paired with a conference on festivals— Curating for Change: The Work that Music Festivals Do in the World—taking place on August 26th (9am-5pm ET, online). Learn more at the conference website.

The idea of making a 24-hour event online came from an interesting event in the past. As Dr. Heble explained:

“During my years [as a Director] in the Guelph Jazz Festival, I added an all-night program in venues all around the city, indoors, outdoors, in yoga studios, factories, wherever, just in interesting places where we sould have performances, installations, artwork… and there was something really magical about transforming and animating public spaces throughout the night in that way. What was fascinating to me was the kind of people that would show up to those events. They weren’t just the young crowd, a lot of them were older people, international visitors, they might’ve been in their 60’s, and I thought ‘Wow! People were really into this’.”

What is also remarkable about the IF 2022 is its compromise with women’s inclusion in the music atmosphere, having a balanced gender line-up.

IF 2022 is presented by IICSI, with support from Musagetes, SSHRC, the Art Gallery of Guelph, and the Government of Ontario as well as the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and the College of Arts at the University of Guelph.