Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
March 28, 2011, by

Culture Night in Toronto

Jeff Melanson is Arts Advisor to Mayor Rob Ford and Special Advisor to The Creative Capital Initiative. Click on the images to enlarge.

by Michael Wheeler with artwork and text by Jody Hewston

Today the one and only downtown public consultation on the City of Toronto’s ‘Creative Communities Public Consultations’, aka the Richard Florida-themed re-re-visioning of our city’s cultural plan (his theories also provided the basis of the old plan that went nowhere for a decade), will take place at City Hall from 6pm to 8:30pm. (There is also a youth-focussed consultation on April 7th.)

As part of our engagement with the City’s cultural plan, Praxis Theatre will be releasing ‘Hockey Cards’ that give stats on all the movers and shakers that will shape the City’s approach to culture in the years to come. Will this be a team that supports big institutions and sees culture as a means to tourism? Or will it be a team that recognizes the complex cultural ecosystem that makes the City more livable and inspiring for all residents and include a plan that fosters independent and mid-sized organizations?

One way or another – the people on these cards will eventually choose to play for team Massive Organization or Team Ecosystem. This city has bad luck with hockey teams, but I’m still holding out for an upset. (Note: Team Private Donations often refuses to play with team Team Ecosystem so here’s hoping that will be addressed in this plan also.)

Jim Prentice is one of three co-chairs of the Creative Capital Initiative. Click to enlarge

If you can come tonight, (You totally should!) you will have the opportunity to discuss these five questions:

How do you measure value in your organization and what have your metrics taught you?


What tools do you need from the City to improve affordability & access?

What should Toronto focus on over the next five years to raise its profile as a Creative Capital and what are the greatest barriers to accomplishing these goals?

Where can municipal investments in culture make the biggest impact?

If you could make one recommendation to the Mayor and Council regarding culture in Toronto, what would it be?

Karen Kain is one of three co-chairs of the Creative Capital Initiative. Click to enlarge

Now I know what you’re thinking:

These questions show a huge bias towards an understanding of culture that places its core value in its direct economic impact. What if I don’t agree that these are the right questions to be asking? What if I think metrics are incapable of capturing the impact of independent artists, and favour major institutions that have paid staff whose job it is to capture metrics, etc.?

There is a stool for you at 'The Duke of The Eatons Centre' (aka The Duke of Richmond) after the event at City Hall

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of people there that agree with you. The overall ideology this language applies, assumes a number of things to be true that governments and studies from around the world have found to be false. Namely that creative economies rhetoric is just a new language to talk about the educated upwardly mobile classes in a 21st Century economy.  Never mind that – it will be fun, and you can always use conversation to address those values and ideas that resonate for you.

Afterwards, Praxis has made a reservation at the Duke of Richmond for a couple of pints. Hope to see you there and look forward to tonight’s conversation on the future of culture in Toronto.

The Essentials:


6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Council Chambers & Members’ lounge (3rd Floor)

100 Queen St.West, Toronto

Also, join us on Twitter @praxistheatre where our Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose will be live-tweeting the event under hashtag #creativeTO. You don’t need a Twitter account to follow along, just go to Twitter and search the hashtag.

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  1. Steve says:

    Actually, tonight is the first of two downtown cultural consultations, Michael: The final consultation will be on April 7th.


    “City of Toronto Media Relations has issued the following:

    Media Advisory

    March 24, 2011

    Creative Capital Initiative public consultations – March 28 and April 7 at City Hall

    The Creative Capital Initiative will host public consultations on March 28 and April 7 at City Hall. All Toronto citizens are welcome to be part of city-building through culture by participating in one or both consultations.

    The March 28 consultation will focus on strategic priorities for the cultural community while the April 7 session will consider strategies specifically related to youth and youth-focused cultural organizations.

    Date: Monday, March 28 and Thursday, April 7
    Time: 6 to 8:30 p.m. both nights
    Location: Council Chamber, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.

    Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development Committee, and Creative Capital Initiative Co-Chair Robert Foster will be present at both consultations.

    The Creative Capital Initiative, a partnership between the City and the arts and culture community, will provide expert advice and recommendations to update the City’s 2003 Culture Plan for the new term of Council. The initiative will look for ways to enhance Toronto’s role as an international cultural centre, and recommend actions to amplify the sector’s economic and social contributions. The initiative will present its recommendations to the Economic Development Committee at the committee’s May 2011 meeting.

    The Creative Capital Initiative has recently completed six weeks of information gathering and discussion with stakeholders. The initiative has hosted nine focus group sessions with over 250 participants in Etobicoke, downtown Toronto, North York and Scarborough. The sessions heard a wide range of ideas, issues, and suggestions from an engaged group of citizens. More information about some of these previous focus group sessions is available at

    Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto’s government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    – 30 –

    Media contact: Shane Gerard, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-397-5711,

  2. Steve says:

    (I’m intending to be there for part of tonight’s meetings, but I’m seeing “paper SERIES” at the Young Centre at 8 p.m., so will have to leave early; April 7th, I’ve booked off to attend and take notes throughout.)

  3. ummmm we mention the youth consultation parenthetically in the first paragraph. i say we – because Aislinn pointed this out and added it for me before publication.

  4. Steve says:

    Yes, good point, that art for adults will be addressed tonight solely. Better get my rear down to City Hall with my notepad!

  5. […] consultation at City Hall, this one focussed on youth issues, Praxis Theatre is continuing its series of hockey cards introducing the team putting together our next culture plan. Today we introduce to you the Advisory […]

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