Posts Tagged ‘jim fleck’

The Toronto Arts Foundation’s Annual Mayoral Arts Awards Lunch was held at Arcadian Court earlier today. It was a lively crowd full of notable artists, politicians, and arts supporters from all corners of the city. Special guests included Provincial Minister Kathleen Wynn, MPs Carolyn Bennett and Gerard Kennedy, City Budget Chief Shelley Carroll, Pan Am Games Chair Roger Garland, United Way President Susan McIsaac, Toronto City Summit Alliance Chair John Tory, architects A. J. Diamond and Bruce Kuwabara, Thomas Payne, and Mitchell Cohen from Daniels Corporation, Randy Dalton from the Dalton Company and Minto’s Chris Sheriff-Scott ; arts luminaries Martha Burns, Eric Peterson, Paul Gross, Alexander Neef, Lata Pada, Veronica Tennant, TIFF’s Cameron Bailey and community artsnotables Che Kothari, Liz Forsberg and Ruth Howard; and noted arts supporters Michael M. Koerner, Jim Fleck and Avie Bennett, among others.

The crowd and Arcadian Court

Award recipients were:
Arts for Youth Award: Manifesto
TorontoArts & Business Award: BMO Financial Group
RBCEmerging Artist Award: filmmaker Jamie Travis (shout out to finalists composer Constantine Caravassilis and director, actor and producer Michael Wheeler!)
Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition: Jose Ortega, Artistic Director of Lula Music and Arts Centre and the live music Lula Lounge.
William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life: Mallory Gilbert, former General Manager of Tarragon Theatre

Eric Peterson

This was outgoing Mayor David Miller’s final arts awards and he was also honoured with a commissioned poem read by Eric Peterson. The ceremony featured a special performance by Juno Award-winning jazz singer/songwriter Molly Johnson and a performance by the youth ensemble Samba Kidz.

Congratulations to the Toronto Arts Foundation and all of the deserving winners and finalists!

Host Jian Ghomeshi

TAC's fabulous Executive Director Claire Hopkinson

Mayor David Miller with Eric Peterson

Mayor Miller's address

Molly Johnson

Mayor Miller et moi

CBC's Matt Galloway

In the taxi, returning Jian to the CBC

The exceptional team at the Toronto Arts Council


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Having been on a mini hiatus from writing about arts policy happenings over the last month, some catching up is in order! An initiative I’ve wanted to write about for some time is the upcoming national Culture Days event. Launched on April 20th, Culture Days weekend will debut in cities, towns and communities across the country over the last weekend in September 2010. Described most succinctly as ‘ParticipACTION’ for the arts, Culture Days is a movement to raise awareness and encourage participation in arts and culture. Modeled after Montreal’s successful ‘Journées de la culture’, Culture Days events and activities will be interactive and gratis to the public with cultural offerings designed and delivered by local artists and arts, culture and heritage organizations.

Check out their promo video here:

Culture Days | Fête de la culture from CultureDays Fetedelaculture on Vimeo.

In an earlier post, I wrote about Simon Brault’s new book ‘Le Facteur C: L’avenir passe par la culture’, now available in English (‘No Culture, No Future’). Brault is an accomplished arts policy thinker, the vice-chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, president of Culture Montreal, and the general director of the National Theatre School. His book is a compelling case to citizens and government for culture as a right and necessity, requiring adequate public investment. I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the English edition just last week, hosted with finesse by Jim Fleck and Business for the Arts. At the event, my favourite Globe and Mail arts reporter James Bradshaw interviewed Brault live. The essence of the conversation revolved around the idea of cultural participation and the importance of democratizing access to culture for all citizens. Brault commented that because culture is so fundamental, we don’t even recognize how entrenched it is in our daily lives. He referenced Quebecois writer Dany Lafrenière, who said “when everything is gone, culture remains”.

Culture Days is perhaps an antidote to Brault’s lament about the need for citizens to become more conscious of the art and culture that both surrounds and permeates their lives. Participating in cultural experiences of any form, from ‘elite’ to recreational, can help us feel connected to each other within our communities, cities or within society. In the context of a national, participation-based celebration of culture, the free events, activities and experiences will take many forms including both professional and community-based offerings. It is an indiscriminate forum where the creators of cultural content will mingle with their counterparts – the cultural consumers – in an attempt to deepen this engagement and remind us that we are surrounded by rich and diverse creative expressions at home in our own neighbourhoods and communities.

I’m encouraged by the potential of Brault’s book and the Culture Days initiative. Both are bright, shining opportunities to be reminded of the important and valued role culture plays in our lives. As cultural citizens, we must remember that culture is our right. We must protect it, nurture it, engage with it, and give it space to express itself. Otherwise we might find ourselves standing in a paved parking lot someday trying to remember the words to that Joni Mitchell song… you know the one.

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