Posts tagged ‘City Council’

September 28, 2012

Post Now, Nap Later, Consult in the Fall



Found this article in the Globe yesterday.

Fun fact: that’s pretty much my schedule. One of the joys of owning your own business is that to an extent you get to follow your own schedule. I’ve always been a bit useless between 2 and 3 – so I don’t try to do anything that requires creative thought.

Found this in the Star: How to retrieve accidentally deleted computer files – which usually happens between 2 nd 3 in my house.

This? Is fantastic. Making Space for Culture: Public Consultations Fall 2012

To secure space for the arts from the ground up, the cultural community must be proactive, identifying potential partners in health, social services or sports when they are in the planning stages of projects such as community hubs and recreation centres.

To help guide future potential investment when opportunities arise, Toronto’s Cultural Services has embarked on a ward-by-ward consultation and planning process to determine local priorities…Twenty ward consultations will be conducted in 2012 with the remaining 24 wards being surveyed in 2013 and beyond. Ten sessions were held in the spring with 10 more to follow in October. An online survey is being conducted as part of the consultation process, dubbed Making Space for Culture: Ward Planning for Vibrant, Sustainable Cultural Infrastructure. Please take a moment to fill out the survey and join us at any of the consultations.



September 11, 2012

Dear Rob

Dear Rob,

I’m going to pretend your job isn’t being Mayor of Toronto, so we’ll cut out all the politics from the get-go. I’m going to pretend you have a job in upper management at some private company for the sake of this letter. Okay? No politics, no right-left whatever. No snark.

I see that you skipped out on yet another very important meeting, one that’s your responsibility. And the reason this time was you had to go coach football, because the coach has to be at the game or the team doesn’t play.

Rob something is becoming clearer and clearer to me every time I hear about something like this. You are an Everyman in one aspect of your life – but you’re not a good ole boy, you’re not a folk hero, you’re not just one of the guys. You are not an Everyman that way.

But like millions of folks out there – you clearly don’t like your job. You might even hate it. And that is where I think you are Everyman.

Millions know how you feel –  the shuffling in at the last possible minute, cutting out early whenever you can, the frustration with your colleagues. A lot of people in this world don’t like their jobs.

They have to go to work anyway. Why? Because they don’t have another job lined up. Their options are limited. Until they line up something else, they’re essentially stuck. Terrible feeling.

Rob? You do have other options. You could work at your family company. That’s the most obvious one. The less obvious one?

Follow your passion. Turn your football foundation into a full-time thing for yourself, and those kids. Because honestly – that’s when you seem happiest. That’s when you work your hardest, I think. That’s when you seem at your best, most positively affected by something.That’s what it’s like to live your calling. Imagine feeling that way all the time? And people all over cheer you on about this initiative. They think it’s great. They think it’s great how much you care.

If you’re in politics because your Dad was – well, maybe it’s not for you. And we all want to please our parents, but you know? Ask any parent what they want for their kids and they’ll say, “I want them to be happy.” You’re in your forties, Rob. So am I. It’s time to be happy, and follow your dream.

Now I’m not saying write up a resignation letter today. But do some thinking. You’ve got a couple of years left in your contract. You’ve already got the – well, the foundation for a foundation. Maybe do some thinking on how to make that an even bigger reality.

And when your contract comes up? Don’t renew it. Don’t even throw your hat in. Concentrate on what would really make you happy. If it’s football and those kids – so be it.

Good luck.


September 6, 2012

14th in Innovation – Mom isn’t putting that grade on the fridge

From the Globe and Mail: Canada must refuel for cultural creativity

Sixty years ago, the Massey report created our first cultural “road map” by boldly recommending the establishment of a Canada Council to support our creative and interpretive artists.

Its recommendations also strongly encouraged a National Library and the growth of our core national cultural institutions: CBC-Radio Canada, the National Film Board, our archives and museums and scientific research. It affirmed the importance of culture to Canadian society and linked the development of a distinctive Canadian culture to our sovereignty and survival.

These recommendations produced remarkably positive results. However, culture has since been relegated to “niche” status under successive governments, and the cultural sector as a whole has been relegated to the periphery of policy-making.

So that was sixty years ago. Now from the Guardian: Why major theatre institutions should be left to die

The artists of tomorrow are not made through funding an elite, but by funding at the bottom of the pyramid – a pyramid that we have created and sustained during the good times but now seldom question, even though the landscape will look very different in the coming years.

We should stop building bricks and mortar and empires, and rid ourselves of the belief that growth is a good thing for the arts. We should put money into the bottom of the pyramid, not the top – it is only by funding the bottom that we can create the future.

Lots to think about.

In other news, our Mayor is in court proving spectacularly that stupidity isn’t illegal. Steve Kupferman from torontoist did some great live updating yesterday.

July 4, 2012

What’s in YOUR Fringe bag?

photo from Fringe Facebook group

It’s that time of year when the articles start coming out about Fringe with picks and how to go about your Fringe experience. I like reading them all. This was a favourite.

And since there are so many, I don’t need to write one – instead, I’m prepping my Fringe bag, because the Toronto Fringe starts TODAY!

I have a new Fringe bag this year, as the one that had been with me through four Fringes just – well, it got me through many things. It’s still a  black messenger bag, this one has a picture of my imaginary dog Nitro on it, and here’s what’s usually in it that optimizes my Fringing experiences. What’s in it started with the basics from the Fringe website

  • Two Fringe programs – one is mine, one to give away to someone who needs one.
  • Water  – get a decent sized water bottle and keep it full. Fill ‘er up at drinking fountains, restaurants etc. any chance you get. Dehydration is for chumps.
  • Umbrella. Just in case. It also makes a nice sun shade. ETA:  A hat. Waiting in line in the sun hatless is no fun.
  • Wallet – contains a fiver to get my Tip The Fringe button (do this right off the bat. In fact, help the staff by being a good example and showing the rest of the line how it’s done). Also contains a selection of toonies as I will tip and re-tip the Fringe. Also contains cash for the fringe tent as there is no onsite ATM. Why, you ask? Security reasons. You need a certain level of security to keep a big box of money onsite like that. The more you know.
  • Blackberry. I just –  there it is. Nothing better than getting a tweet or text about an AMAZING show you HAVE to see, or being the tweeter or texter.
  • Sunscreen – I forgot this last year. And the year before. Red is my colour, but not on my skin. I have a nice spray on bottle in a pocket specially made for it.
  • Sunglasses and chapstick. ALWAYS. Squinty eyes and chapped lips are not a good look.
  • Two hair elastics.
  • Medication – don’t forget your inhalers or insulin or whatever else you require and remember to take them when you are supposed to. You do not want your Fringe experience ruined due to illness.
  • 2 pens and a small notebook – jot things down, make little drawings etc.
  • Business cards – I always have a stack.
  • Flyers for the show you are working on.
  • Gum or mints or lifesavers. Quick sugar hit.
  • A healthy snack. Bring a piece of fruit, or some cut up veggies. Wash down with your water. You cannot live on bar snacks and candy and beer for two weeks. You can try, but it won’t end well. ETA: Also bring some form of protein. Nuts, I guess, if you are not allergic.
  • TICKETS! I am a plan ahead Fringer. Most of  my shows are booked and there are many I will catch on the fly as well. However, only that day’s tickets are in there. The rest are safely at home. Whatever your Fringe style, your tickets are the truly important part
  • YOUR WATCH. You must be on time. CBC time. This is how Fringe works. There are no latecomers. I am sorry you drove in from Ajax/couldn’t find the theatre/got caught in traffic/it was raining etc. I am truly sorry. It’s disappointing, But those are the rules. Do not yell at, swear at, or push the staff. Do not storm by, do not try to shove by. I know it’s on time by your Mickey Mouse watch, but the show is not being called on your Mickey Mouse watch. I am sorry. And quite frankly, other patrons will back up the staff before they back up you. it’s Fringe – it says everywhere there are no latecomers and is one of the few places in our Starbucks society where a rule won’t be bent.
    The most graceful acceptance I ever saw of “you’re late” was the woman who dropped her head in disappointment, laid down the flowers she’d brought for a cast member and went to sit and wait in the sunshine.
    The least graceful acceptance I ever heard of was the woman who screamed and swore at the FOH staff and shoved one out of the way and stormed into the theatre. I supposed I should say something like, “be sure to pack an open mind and a sense of humour“. Yes, do that too.Am sure I’m forgetting something. What’s in YOUR Fringe bag?
April 4, 2012

What a Wonderful Thing to Come Back To

Spent Monday and Tuesday on Toronto Island at the retreat centre getting my head together, doing some visioning exercises and just plain catching up and getting organized before the busy season starts (or continues, really, and gets busier.)

There is something wonderful about the Island – all the regular distractions are simply not there, and you find the focus you’ve been looking for. It starts as soon as you hit the dock to go over on the ferry.

Everyone is there to work on something, so no messing about. It’s beyond quiet – it’s thisclose to silent and you want to do what you came there to do. I highly recommend it to any artist looking for the space and time to get stuff done.

I still read the paper and came across this article – congrats, congrats big congrats to and Devon. Well done.

Toronto wins appeal on billboard tax

March 30, 2012

Federal and Provincial Budgets – What do they mean for the arts?


In my inbox from the Toronto Arts Foundation.


Federal and Provincial Budgets – What do they mean for the arts?
Artists and arts organizations will be relieved to learn that the federal and provincial governments have both protected the arts councils from cuts to their granting programs.  The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Trillium Foundation will not sustain budget cuts despite broad based reductions in other areas.
The full impact of the government budgets will be determined over the next few months.  It is clear that reduced investment in the culture sector will have a ripple effect   Major items are listed below:

2012 Federal Budget Arts Highlights:

There will be no cuts to the Canada Council for the Arts.

The CBC has been cut by 10% ($115 million) over three years.

The Department of Canadian Heritage’s operating base of $2.8 billion has been cut by 6.9%.

In addition to the Canada Council, the National Gallery and national museums will not face budget cuts.

Telefilm’s budget is being cut by $10.6 million and the National Film Board is being cut by $6.7 million.

2012 Provincial Budget Arts Highlights:

There will be no cuts to the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Luminato’s funding from the Ontario government will be cut by $1.5 million for 2012-13 and $2 million for 2013-14

The operating budgets of Ontario’s Cultural Agencies including the AGO, ROM and McMichael Canadian Arts Collection will be cut by 1% for 2012-13 and an additional 1% for 2013-14 and thereafter.

Cultural industry Tax Credits will be maintained.

For additional information contact: Susan Wright 416-392-6802 x 211



February 12, 2012

Sunday Roundup – February 12

The second week of February started off with a bang and was wondefully full of meeting new clients, working with others, and prepping for the week ahead. It’s wonderful to work with so many different companies like OCAF, and Small Print Toronto and individuals like Lisa Wegner and Marco Veltri  and others and I am booked solidly until April 15. Anything after that – let’s chat.

A reminder that Social Media Week starts tomorrow – I am doing a workshop with Parkdale Village BIA and a panel as well on women in social media.


So about last week…

Did Churchill Really Say That? Has Anyone Said Anything Since? -on Churchill’s famous quote about paying for the war with culture money.

Focused Conversations and Tiny Urban City Builders – info on a workshop I attended, and a shout-out to the upcoming Totsapalooza.

Sometime the Art Touches You, Sometimes You Get to Touch the Art – another visit to Pentimento Gallery to see what was on.

Last week was also a victory for Transit City and as always if you want the full deal go visit torontoist – they do amazing munipoli coverage.

The Star also did some excellent vehicular defining.

I think that’s it for today – it’s actually winter out there and you’d best find your gloves and stuff.



February 8, 2012

Focused Conversations and Tiny Urban City Builders

I was at an interesting workshops yesterday about Focused Conversations using something called the FAIR Conversation Method Flow. Entrepreneuse School may be over but they offer these cool workshops free of charge to grads. Part learning, art networking, it was a great use of a morning.

FAIR stands for: Facts (getting the facts, sensory impressions, information – the objective level); Associations (personal reactions, associations, emotions, images – the reflective level); Interpretation (meaning and values, significance, purpose, implications – the interpretive level) and Resolve (resolution, action, future directions, next steps – the decisional level).

I thought when I first got there it was about general conversations, but really it’s a way to have extremely focused meetings – which to me is even better. I’m not a fan of meetings – to be precise I’m not a fan of bad meetings – where there is no clear objective, when they are hijacked by one person’s ideas or comments, when there are too many people or not the right people in the room the meeting that goes on and on, the “why am I even here??” meeting. Everyone has had their share of these. And everyone I am sure has tried to figure out a way of making meetings better.

The concept I really liked about this workshop was that the method focused on two outcomes at the end of the conversation:

Rational Aim: what the group will KNOW, learn or decide by the end of the conversation; the product of the conversation eg they will explore X, they will identify Y, they will make a decision about Z.

Experiential Aim: how the group will BE different at the end of the conversation; they will be excited by a new idea, they will have experienced helpful struggle; they will trust each other’s perspectives.

I’m not typing out all my handouts, but you get the idea.  And I’ll share the opening sequence example with you. I’d love to be in this meeting!

Set Context: “Today we are having a conversation about the best way to support a new program coordinator. Remember this is not about whether we need one or not – at this point it should be taken as a given. We should have a list of strategies by the end of the conversation.”

Set Parameters: “Let’s start with some working assumptions about our conversation.” (this is the creation of participation guidelines, whether that is that everyone in the room should be there, that all opinions will be heard, that there are no wrong answers, etc).

Clarify Roles: Who is leading the meeting? Who is facilitating? (important – do not let hierarchical systems hijack the facilitator.)

Establish Available Time: “We’ll take about half an hour for this conversation.”  (this is a biggie for me. An open-ended meeting is not an effective one. Once there is a length established, people tend to get to their point more quickly. Do not let this be hijacked. If it “requires further discussion”, move on and have that further discussion at a separate meeting.)

Ground the Conversation: “Let’s start our discussion by looking at the job description of the program coordinator.

An excellent workshop in my opinion – to me an excellent workshop is well run, has handouts (email or otherwise) and contains items and ideas that you are excited to take away with you and begin implementing immediately.


Studies have shown that children are the quickest to design, to answer, to do stuff. They figure things out quickly because they don’t over-complicate, they don’t attach a huge number of issues to an action, they don’t over-think things to the point of paralysis.

I feel like the above is the type of meeting they’d have. And I bet there will be proof of this on Sunday February 26th, 2:00 pm at Revival –  PSA#8 – Totsapalooze – Mouse City Calling.


January 11, 2012

Why the Arts Should be Funded (Toronto, we’re lagging – still…)

New Study:  Toronto Falls Far Behind large Canadian Cities in Municipal Arts Investment
Release from the Toronto Arts Council

Hill Strategies Research released a report today, Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities, comparing funding in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Investment by Toronto City Council ranks lowest by a wide margin: per capita investment in each city is, from highest to lowest:

Montreal: $55
Vancouver: $47
Calgary: $42
Ottawa: $28
Toronto: $19

“Throughout major international cultural centres, municipal arts funding is key to maintaining a thriving creative city, attractive to residents and tourists alike.  We are at the tipping point; this study clearly demonstrates that Toronto risks losing its position as Canada’s go-to city for arts and culture.” noted Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of Toronto Arts Council.

The impact of cultural investment is felt throughout Toronto’s economy, much of which is dependent upon a vibrant arts sector.  The arts and culture industry contributes $9 billion to Toronto’s local economy and supports 130,000 jobs.

In May 2011, Toronto City Council affirmed the critical importance of arts and culture funding when it unanimously endorsed the Creative Capital Gains report.  The report recommends increasing Toronto’s arts funding to $25 per capita.

In contradiction of this unanimous decision, the 2012 City Operating Budget, approved by Budget Committee yesterday, recommends a reduction in Toronto’s arts and culture grants by $2 million and additional reductions to the city’s department of Economic Development and Culture.   Given that every dollar invested by the city in grants to arts organizations in Toronto leverages an additional $17 in funding from other sources this will have the direct effect of reducing investment in Toronto by $25 million.

“It is hard to exaggerate the impact of such a cut.  Of course artists and arts organizations will be affected, but so too will every Toronto resident who benefits from access to arts programming as well as Toronto’s tourism industry, its restaurants, hotels, taxis and retail sectors” said John McKellar, Chair of Toronto Arts Council.

Toronto’s Executive Committee, chaired by the Mayor, will review the Budget Committee’s recommended budget on Thursday, January 12, following which it will go to the full City Council on January 17 for final approval.

For more information, please contact: Susan Wright, 416-392-6802 x211;

On that note but in the opposite way – an article from the Guardian – Why Should We Fund the Arts?

BUDGET DAY TOMORROW! Let’s see what’s happened because of or despite hundreds and thousands of people writing, calling, giving deputations in person, signing petitions, you name it.


December 30, 2011

Top Ten Posts of 2011 and Ones I Really Liked

Something I really enjoy about the end of the calendar year are the lists. Actually, anyone who knows me knows I like a good list any time of year but the end of December marks lists in everything. It’s a sum-up of the year, what worked, what didn’t, what to do more or less of and a chance to reflect on these things.

I hit go on my website in April 2011, and so for the end of the year, I give you the most read and shared blog posts of the year.

Now then! What did you read??

10.  Data, Audiences, and my Thoughts on Margie – the most read part of this post was about Margie. I quote the last line of the post: Something interesting to note – my blog posts create automatic links to items that it has ‘heard of’. I’d like to point out  – it’s heard of Margie Gillis, Laureate of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. It’s never heard of Krista Erikson.
I repeat – Krista WHO?

9.   it’s the Dora Nominees Press Conference Today! – self-explanatory – here are the 2011 nominations.

8.  Today’s PSA: Facebook Pages and Helping Each Other Like Things – groups and pages and will it ever end? We start by liking each other.

7.   Sunday Roundup – June 5 EXTRA: TO Services Review Roundtable – I think of most importance in this post was my experience at the Toronto City Services Review Roundtable. I spent a lot of time at City Hall this year, come to think of it.

6.   The Ten Best Theatre Production Companies in Toronto – blog post on a blog post, courtesy BlogTO.

5.  The Magi Were Right – a fantastic exhibition at Pentimento Gallery – G Elliot Simpson’s Brotherhood – art and technology combined in a fantastic way.

4.  Once Upon a TIme… – a story about the Toronto Public Library, and why it matters to me. An edited version of this blog post won me a spot in the top 50 entries in the Why My Library Matters to Me contest, sponsored by the Toronto Public Library Workers Union. I get to have lunch with Michael Ondaantje at some point.

3.  OMG Why Did He Un-friend Me? – a great infographic and articles on the reasons people unfriend each other on Facebook.

2.  Sunday Roundup – July 17 – a not necessarily textbook lesson on Fringeconomics.

and the number one most read, tweeted, shared and discussed post of 2011…

1.  Fringe Plays I Apparently Should Not Have Bothered Seeing – a list of ways to avoid seeing a dud at the Toronto Fringe – a little research seemed to indicate these rules are made to be broken.

BONUS:  The Revolution will be Photographed Two friends and excellent photographers took to the street the first day of Occupy Toronto and came back with some wonderful shots of humanity.

BONUS:  Lest We Forget – A Slideshow of Loved Ones Many of you took to your memories and photo albums and shared stories and pictures with me.

Also for the end of the year list I have many companies to thank – Theatre 20, Expect Theatre, Ninja Funk Orchestra, Mighty Brave Productions, Arts Etobicoke, PACT, Creative Trust, Stratical Theatre, Magic and Mud, Little Revolutions, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Parkdale Village BIA, Art is Hard, Control Over Destiny, P. Marco Veltri. You’ve all been fantastic to work with and a big part of this year, and for this I thank you.

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, likes, follows and shares. Am so glad you’re here. I’ll be back Tuesday, January 3rd with the answer to a frequently asked question: How much does a basic website cost?

Happy New Year. Eat well, drink well, be merry, have fun, laugh, be safe.

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.
Cyril Cusack

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