Last week in this space, we told you about the Toronto culture consultations. The first of those public consultations is today from 2pm to 4pm at the Assembly Hall in Etobicoke, and I’ll be there “live tweeting” for Praxis. You can follow our Twitter feed here, and if there is a hashtag for the event, I’ll come back and add it to this post so you can follow along with everyone else.
In the meantime, you might be interested in looking back at that earlier post about the consultations to see what happened after the events document was circulated, and then read the even more interesting comments to our post.
UPDATE: EYE WEEKLY is reporting that “The City is actually holding 11 consultation sessions on the culture plan, seven of them in downtown neighbourhoods.” Additionally, that “incomplete information had been circulated to some organizations “. Safe guess that’s the document below. Assuming the math stays the same – you now have 22 hours to talk to the big guns.
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Similar to the recent city budget consultation process under Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto’s just-announced culture consultations will have no downtown meetings -holding consultations from 2pm-4pm on February 9th in Etobicoke and February 10th in Scarborough.
Titled, “Creative Communities Public Consultations”, these will presumably form some basis for recommendations made to City Council somewhere down the road.
So what is going on here?
There are three co-chairs of a lightning-fast pair of consultations done outside of the downtown core that will be used to inform a re-imagining of Toronto’s culture plan:
Robert Foster – an investment banker who specializes in mergers and acquisitions.
Karen Kain – Canada’s Prima Ballerina and Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada.
Jim Prentice* – a recent Alberta MP and Harper government Environment Minister.
This panel will have two “special advisors” separate from five other advisory council members from arts and business: Richard Florida – a controversial U of T theorist and pop culture guru who has postulated that Canada’s Social Compact should be replaced with a “Creative Compact”, and Jeff Melanson – the National Ballet School’s Executive Director and Rob Ford’s Arts and Culture Advisor.
For some more context on why this could get interesting in a hurry, read this recent CBC article on a panel held by the Canadian Conference of the Arts, attended by arts advocates from across the country in Ottawa. Titled, “Artists: Powering the Creative Economy?” it rejected the Martin Prosperity Institute proposed “creative economy” logic to advocating for arts funding. The centrepiece of the article: Richard Florida’s own statistician laments, “It’s been a trap.”
RSVP quickly if you would like to participate as spots are likely to fill up fast.
* Strombo lays it down. I’ll be honest: I don’t watch alot of Strombo – what with him running concurrently at 11pm with the two greatest political satirists of our age – but you gotta hand it to him for this monologue on what will happen to internet access in Canada if the CRTC’s current ruling is implemented, what’s behind it, and how you can get involved on the side of OpenMedia.
*Someone let Richard Florida back in the building! Maybe it’s gauche to link to my own interview – but I just suggested to NOW Magazine’s Jon Kaplan that the best thing about cultural policy in Toronto under Rob Ford was that we finally had an opportunity to move beyondthe widely discredited ‘Creative Economy‘ theories espoused by Richard Florida that gained prominence during the David Miller administration. Guess not: Last week Florida was announced as advisor to a new City Hall panel to update Toronto’s culture plan called The Creative Capital Initiative. Something tells me we might have another ‘cultural renaissance’ on our hands. More on this as it develops – there are some smart people on the panel.
* Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA) and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) have announced a new trial program geared at creating a reasonable way to contract new play creation. I know, you’re bored already. If you make new plays in Canada don’t be. The Tangerine Contract has the potential to fundamentally change the way you create work – dividing the process into four creation stages and providing the option to work by the hour instead of by the week. More news on this as it develops. Fingers crossed that this trial goes well and that artists, producers, and artist/producers enjoy working under it.
* The Tarragon Theatre opened the Toronto Stock Exchange? Yep it’s true. One good thing about theatre people is that they are very good at clapping.
* Luminato Artistic Director Chris Lorway announced he is stepping down.No word yet on what that means for the festival or what comes next. I for one am bummed about this as Chris was always quite supportive of this website and my work – even though praxistheatre.com gained some of its credibility and noteriety from a series of posts about the high degree of B.S. that led to the creation of Luminato in the first place. Proof that a structural, policy-based debate need not be a personal one.
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”