How can we enhance the role of our parks and the public realm in meeting the City’s overall goals of social inclusion, economic and environmental sustainability and neighbourhood revitalization? What are the strategic opportunities for a compelling new park vision that engages all Torontonians?
The city is initiating the development of a city-wide, multi-year Parks Plan to guide decision-making in the acquisition, development, management and operation of the system of public parkland across the City. This week, the City of Toronto Parks Department hosted a special panel discussion to help guide the new city Parks Plan. The public panel discussion took place on Wednesday, March 10th at City Hall.
Significantly, panel presenters included representatives of the arts community. Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation, spoke about the many arts organizations that animate and enrich our parks, some of the challenges they face, and the opportunities for stronger partnerships.
Challenges facing artists and arts organizations who work in parks:
- Obtaining permits – feedback indicates that this is a major source of frustration for artists.
- Artists, unlike sports groups – are individual applicants for park uses; they don’t block-book and they are rarely in a position to develop long term relationships with a given park manager
- Prohibitive policing costs
- Amplification and lighting equipment can be prohibitively expensive for small arts organizations
- Lack of promotional support
How can we improve the situation for artists? We hope:
- To explore the possibility of ‘one-stop shopping’ for permits and information for arts groups working in parks.
- To explore the possibility of block-booking parks for arts groups.
- To explore the possibility of securing lighting and sound amplification equipment for use by artists in parks.
- To work together on the promotion of arts activities in parks.
- To be involved in an ongoing conversation between artists and the City.
Panel Members included: George Dark, Landscape Architect, Urban Strategies; Jane Farrow, Executive Director, Centre for City Ecology, Jane’s Walks; Luigi Ferrara, Director, Arts + Design, George Brown College; Adele Freeman, Director, Watershed Management, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director, Toronto Arts Council/Toronto Arts Foundation; and Uzma Shakir, Atkinson Economic Justice Fellow, Atkinson Foundation.
City Councillors included: Paula Fletcher, Raymond Cho, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata, Karen Stintz, and Michael Walker
As the Parks Plan continues to develop, it is important that artists continue to make their needs known. How else can we make parks more accessible to artists and arts organizations? Join our online discussion at www.neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org
Skye Louis is currently serving as Coordinator of the Neighbourhood Arts Network.