Photo: Catherine the Great advertising campaign on the subway
In the Toronto Star today:
By KEVIN MCGRAN TRANSPORTATION REPORTER
Toronto’s subway stations are about to become a little more beautiful – less like a 1960s-era washroom, and more like a "gateway" to the neighbourhoods they serve.
The TTC this week approved $350,000 in spending – hoping to get matching private funds – in establishing a partnership with the Toronto Community Foundation on an initiative to "revitalize" public spaces and boost cultural tourism.
Photo: Walt Disney Concert Hall. (c) Gehry Partners, LLP
While architect Frank Gehry is renowned for his sculptural approach to building design, he is also well known for making buildings that have a positive impact on the lives of people within their community. Next February gallery visitors will get a glimpse of some of the forces that have helped to shape Gehry’s design for the transformed AGO – and what impact this design will have on our AGO community, through the exhibition Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture, February 18 to May 7, 2006.
Four of Gehry’s recent projects completed within the last decade will be featured – the Ray and Maria Stata Center, Boston (MIT); Millennium Park Music Pavilion and Great Lawn, Chicago; Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA; the D.Z. Bank in Berlin; together with the transformed Art Gallery of Ontario of 2008. While each of these projects has influenced the design for the new AGO, each has also made a significant impact on its surrounding community.
Aside from its striking exterior, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, clearly addressing its public function. While the DZ Bank Building exterior follows strict Berlin building codes, its imposing, unadorned façade conceals a gargantuan, floating structure containing the bank’s conference facility and a ten-storey atrium that is flooded with light from the intricate roof of glass and steel.
The Ray and Maria Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has provided a dynamic and inviting space that addresses the needs of its two distinct client groups – students and researchers. Through Gehry’s inventive design, communication between these two historically isolated groups has been achieved.
The Millennium Park Music Pavilion and Great Lawn in Chicago is the centerpiece of a huge cultural facility designed to serve cultural needs of both the city’s diverse population and its tourists. Millennium Park provides a new home for the Grant Park Philharmonic, as well as a broad range of musical experiences that are offered free to residents and visitors.
Some of the many facets of Gehry’s unique working process will be explored – learning about clients needs, assessing the community in which the building will function, developing massing models, creating forms that will bring life into the building, bringing architecture and engineering together through computer imaging, and selecting materials – through architectural models, photographs, audio and visual testimony, and interactive activities to engage visitors.
As we continue to undergo construction, this exhibition provides a unique opportunity to share with our visitors that Transformation AGO is an exciting innovation informed by Gehry’s past achievements. While the show underlines the significance of the AGO as the first Gehry project in Canada – appropriately in Toronto, the place of his birth – it also addresses the repositioning of Toronto’s most important visual culture institution on the international stage.
“This exhibition will provide an exciting opportunity to witness the creative sensibility and ideas of the greatest architect of the second half of the twentieth century,” said Dennis Reid, the AGO’s director of collections & research and senior curator, Canadian art. “Visitors will be able to experience the scale and feel of Transformation AGO, and to understand its key role in Gehry’s evolution a full two years before its completion.”
There’s an extraordinary act of city-building going on in Toronto and it’s happening on the once fragile shoulders of culture. In the multitude of cultural expansion projects now underway in this city, one fact is self-evident: the arts are building a city driven by creativity.
If we do it right, and we will, our new galleries and museums, concert halls and classrooms will be the basis for compelling programs that unite cultures and encourage dialogue through the catalyst of creativity. Whether at the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Canadian Opera Company, at the Royal Ontario Museum or the Royal Conservatory of Music, experiencing the arts helps people find pathways to their own creativity — their own ability to make their mark in the world and connect to others.
Each of the cultural expansion projects now underway is giving to Toronto a lens through which its distinctive personality and identity can be understood and expressed. It is a rare and wonderful moment of cultural critical mass and momentum that extends well beyond bricks and mortar
For example, the City of Toronto’s visionary Culture Plan targets unprecedented growth of the arts. Toronto’s 18-month-long celebration of the arts, Live with Culture is already engaging government, community, arts and business organizations across the city. Others are joining them in collaboration to launch the Toronto International Arts Festival next year.
Why? Because the arts have a starring role in the value proposition of our cities. Visitors to Toronto spend more than $4 billion annually, according to Tourism Toronto. The statistics show they’re likely to be at a play or concert, at an art gallery or museum. Build it and they will come.
Culture creates more than 600,000 jobs for Canadians and generates more than $39 billion in annual revenues, according to the Canadian Art Coalition. Over the last decade, Ontario witnessed an 18 percent increase in cultural sector jobs. Build it and they will work.
Toronto’s cultural engine alone generates more than $8 billion annually and accounts for half of Ontario’s cultural revenues. Build it and they will spend.
More than 6,000 children and adults take organized art classes at the AGO. By 2008 when our own transformation is complete, we will double the number of school children we serve in all of our educational programs. The role of the arts in improved learning is well documented. Integrating creativity into the school curriculum yields reduced absenteeism and dramatic improvements in problem solving, communications skills and academic performance. Build it and they will learn.
Individually, Toronto’s cultural expansion projects are as bold as they are inspiring. They will draw hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and around the corner. They will engage, astound and challenge.
But together, they send a clear and reverberating message to cities large and small that culture can drive the economic and social growth of our communities. Toronto’s experience proves that culture can galvanize a community, inspire philanthropy and generate a new civic vocabulary around creativity and imagination.
Well before their grand re-openings, Toronto’s cultural expansion projects have already become milestones that mark an unprecedented passage — from our good city to a great city, a city that the arts built.
This commentary was written by Matthew Teitelbaum, portions of which were presented at the Ramsay Talks lecture series, organized by media consultant Bob Ramsay. This month focused on cultural expansion projects in Toronto.
Do the arts matter? Tune in to Art Matters every Friday morning at 11:00 AM and find out! Art Matters showcases the local arts community in Minneapolis, including current events and arts-related discussions.
(This announcement was distributed November 23 by the Canadian Museums Association.).Ottawa, November 23, 2005 — Today in Montreal the Canadian Heritage Minister, the Honourable Liza Frulla, announced significant new support for Canada’s arts community, including artists and art museums. The federal government plans to increase funding to the Canada Council for the Arts funding to $300 million by 2008. This is exceptionally good news for the arts community, and many CMA member institutions.
Over the past year, the arts community, including CMA, has lobbied for this increase to the Canada Council. Compared to support for the arts in other countries, Canada’s funding levels have lagged near the bottom, well below levels elsewhere.
“This is incredibly good news for all of Canada. The Canada Council administers the programs that support professional artists, galleries, and museums. We are delighted that Liza Frulla has gone to bat for the arts community and that the government has moved quickly and decisively on this request,” said John McAvity, CMA executive director.
“This is one of two announcements we are hoping for — we are anticipating another announcement shortly for new funding to support Canada’s museums and heritage,” said McAvity.The proposed new Canadian Museum Policy is before cabinet this week. “This is another good news story: we are pleased that the policy has the support of the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois, as well as that of each of the provincial/territorial governments, and many other influential organizations,” said McAvity.
Liza Frulla has made the new Canadian Museum Policy one of her key priorities. “When the Museum Policy is announced this Minister will have done more for the arts and heritage sector than any other minister in memory,” said McAvity.
The existing policy is over 30 years old and does not meet the needs of museums today. Funding levels remain at 1970 levels, and have not even seen increases for inflation. CMA has requested $75 million per year in new funding.
Over 58 million people visit Canada’s 2,500 museums each year; they range from large metropolitan galleries to small community museums.
For further information contact: Naomi Grattan 613-567-0099 x223 Monique Horth 613-567-0099 x225 Jim Everson 613-488-9916
How terrific! The AGO now have a blog called Art Matters and it includes podcasts of some of the lectures they have held, including sold out Catherine the Great lectures. I haven’t tried the podcasts out yet for quality, but think this is a fabulous idea. For those of us who can’t get in to the lectures or just are too busy to attend, this is a terrific solution. The podcast is also available on its own RSS feed.
I recently took out a membership to the AGO and haven’t regretted it. I’ve been through the fabulous Catherine the Great exhibit twice and wouldn’t mind going through it again before it goes (all those visits fully included in the membership). I know they are trying to keep traffic coming through during their renovations, and think they are doing a great job of it. "
The Art Gallery of Ontario’s celebrated outdoor sculpture by Henry Moore, Large Two Forms, is on the move as part of Transformation AGO. The four-ton bronze has sat in the same spot outside the AGO since its arrival 32 years ago and is shown moving 12 feet to the south as construction continues on the gallery’s Frank Gehry-designed expansion. The AGO houses the world’s largest public collection of Moore works – 930 bronzes, plasters and works on paper.
Photo by Carlo Catenazzi, Art Gallery of Ontario 2005
Sarah Milroy writes about the AGO’s Michael Awad exhibition in today’s Globe and Mail:
Michael Awad, The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, AGO, 2005 transparency film. Courtesy The Henry Moore Foundation and the artist. (c) 2005 Michael Awad
"Michael Awad is one of the more intriguing artists around town, and a master of several creative modes of expression. He teaches architecture at University of Toronto (he holds master’s degrees in both architecture and urban design); he takes exquisite photographs of the work of notable Canadian architectural firms such as Shim-Sutcliffe and KPMB (both former employers); he likes to build things (like his own Sisyphian project to erect a home in a downtown alleyway, a project that has brought him abreast of every bylaw restriction in the Toronto municipal handbook); and, increasingly, he likes to make art.
Using cameras that he makes himself, which incorporate a range of existing photo technology (mostly borrowed from military and scientific applications), he makes pictures that are, in effect, one long frame, with continuous exposures sometimes lasting up to 45 minutes in duration. Time, and his movement through the city, are registered in the curves and dilations of optical information on the photographic print. With this bizarre and wonderful new way of seeing, Awad is taking the measure of Toronto, and the people who live in it…"
In the Toronto Star today, Peter Goddard, Visual Arts Columnist writes – "Remembrance Day, south of the border, comes in the form of Veterans Day. But New Yorkers visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art today have a Canadian vision of what soldiers faced in World War I. Filled with a number of haunting war scenes, the exhibition is "David Milne Watercolours: `Painting Toward the Light.’"