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:
MEASURING & VALUING CULTURE:
How do you measure value in your organization and what have your metrics taught you?
ACCESS, INCLUSION & ARTS EDUCATION:
What tools do you need from the City to improve affordability & access?
TORONTO’S POSITION AS A CREATIVE CAPITAL:
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?
BIG OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD:
Where can municipal investments in culture make the biggest impact?
QUICK WINS & URGENT MESSAGES:
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.?
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.
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.