Deeper Dialogues featured image

Deeper Dialogues took our programming into the arts + ideas realm in 2011. A discussion series that engaged Torontonians in a conversation about how to build a more vibrant, creative, sustainable and just city. Deeper Dialogues presented moderated conversations and artistic presentations in partnership with the Literary Review of Canada, Luminato, Harbourfront Centre, Evergreen Brick Works and others. At the heart of the series was a unique public consultation project called Future City, in which a group of randomly selected Torontonians, in partnership with artists, curators, cultural commentators and social justice advocates, discussed and envisioned their ideal Toronto. Deeper Dialogues was made possible by the Metcalf Foundation.


Future City

October to December 2011: In partnership with MASS LBP, a trailblazing public consultation firm, Future City brought together a panel of 44 randomly selected Toronto residents, one from each city ward, to explore the implications of growing polarization in Toronto. In a series of sessions over the course of a month, the panelists learned about and discussed the three very different cities within Toronto. At the end of the consultation, a series of recommendations compiled by the panelists was published to the public. This project began with Public Display of Democracy: The Three Cities Dialogue at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche on October 1.

The Forgetful City

May 28 & 29, 2011: The first event in our arts and ideas series, Deeper Dialogues, was part of Doors Open Toronto 2011. The Forgetful City—an interactive installation created by Yvette Nolan, Gein Wong and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, plus a panel discussion—explored what as a society we collectively decide to forget and what we choose to hold on to through memory and its embodiment in our physical city.

Art As Safe Ground?

June 18, 2011: The second event in our arts and ideas series, Deeper Dialogues, explored the vital role of storytelling in society. Presented in partnership with Luminato, Festival of Arts + Creativity.

Public Display of Democracy: The Three Cities Dialogue

October 1, 2011: Democracy as public art. The gap between rich and poor in Toronto has been growing for decades. New research from the University of Toronto showing the geography of this growing gap was the basis for a new interactive exhibit and art installation designed by Toronto artist Mitchell Chan, with an extensive public dialogue conducted by Toronto-based engagement firm, MASS LBP. Part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011.

Steal This Idea!

January 26, 2012: Diaspora Dialogues and Literary Review of Canada in partnership with Toronto Public Library produced the final event wrapping up the Deeper Dialogues series entitled Steal This Idea!


Deeper Dialogues has been made possible by the Metcalf Foundation

Metcalf is 50 years old this year, and to mark this anniversary it has made a small number of special one-time grants designed to celebrate and strengthen our city. Over its history, the Foundation has made sustained contributions to the vitality of our urban life, most recently by focusing its efforts on enhancing the vibrancy of the professional performing arts, addressing issues of poverty, and ensuring the ecological integrity of our natural and working lands. Building on this tradition, and its long and close relationship with Toronto, Metcalf invited a small group of organizations to give their best city-building idea. Metcalf was and is interested in the potential inherent in unleashing ideas not possible under ordinary circumstances. How “city building” was defined was entirely up to them, Metcalf asked only that each organization’s approach reflect their unique mission and contributions to our landscape.

East Scarborough Storefront, a partnership of residents, community groups, and social service agencies in the dynamic, low-income neighbourhood of Kingston Galloway Orton Park, will build an eco-food hub that will act as the foundation for a range of environmental and food-security focused initiatives. With creative leadership from local youth, architects, and designers the Storefront’s building will be transformed resulting in, amongst other things, a commercial grade kitchen, composting systems, new green spaces, and a rainwater management and irrigation infrastructure. The eco-hub will be a model of how linking economic justice, green issues, and food can contribute to community wellbeing, neighbourhood renewal, and a stronger urban fabric.

Theatre Passe Muraille will present an exciting slate of events designed to break down the walls between the theatre and its surrounding neighbourhood. This city-building initiative is grounded in the belief that institutional arts organizations need to change the type of engagements that they have with audiences—going out into the community and building relationships with people who might not attend traditional theatre performances. To this end, over an 18-month period, artists will create and perform work with the general public on the streets and community spaces around the theatre building, on public transit, in taxi cabs, walking and dancing down Queen West, and in many other locales.

Sustain Ontario, a province-wide, cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming, will undertake “Good Food Ideas to Feed a Hungry City,” an initiative aimed at engaging the broader public in a discussion about sustainable, socially just food systems. Using social media strategies and locally based events, Sustain will advance a series of ideas about how Torontonians, in partnership with rural communities, can work together towards a food system that is healthy, ecological, equitable and financially viable.