The establishment of a new Arts and Culture district for Toronto, the Bloor Street Culture Corridor, was celebrated at L'espresso Bar Mercurio on Bloor at St. George this Wednesday. The association creates a year-round arts and culture community comprising of 12 cultural institutions on Bloor between Bay and Bathurst streets. These cultural institutions include museums; the Gardiner Museum and Bata Shoe Museum, the ROM, performing arts organizations and venues; the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Toronto Consort, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber choir, ethnic-specific cultural centres; Alliance Française, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, the Japan Foundation, while film is represented by the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Uniquely, all of these institutions are located along one mile of the Bloor Street West corridor.
The launch was attended by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the city's Economic Development and Culture Committee, and local Councillors Adam Vaughn and Kristyn Wong Tam, through whose wards the corridor passes.
The corridor provides Toronto with a well-defined district where residents and tourists can indulge in a variety of cultural and art experiences while enjoying the fine dining, shopping and hotels that this stretch of Bloor has to offer. By working in tandem with each other, the organizations will increase awareness of cultural destinations and events in the area, and encourage people to visit the easily accessible cultural district. (The area is easily accessible by five subways stations on lines 1 and 2.) This will be expedited by monthly newsletters, a social media presence and a soon-to-be-released Bloor Culture Corridor app.
Along with drawing attention to this part of Bloor, the corridor will also highlight some of Toronto's architectural standouts. The Royal Ontario Museum, noted of late for its Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin crystal, recently announced plans to improve its front plaza to commemorate its centenary by Hariri Pontarini and Claude Cormier+Associés. The ROM is flanked to the east and west by the KPMB-designed Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the The Royal Conservatory’s TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. To the west is the 100-year-old Hariri Pontarini-renovated Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, while on Spadina Road the Alliance Française will soon be opening its Hariri Pontarini-designed expansion. Back on Bloor, Trinity St. Paul's Church recently had its sanctuary improved by ERA Architects and collaborators for musical performances with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir leading the way. An accompanying article highlights the changes there.
The Culture Corridor project is the brainchild of Royal Conservatory Spokesperson Heather Kelly, and it aims to reestablish the cultural primacy of this part of the city. Redirecting arts and cultural interest in an area that seems to be losing some of it with occurrences like the loss of book stores, is important especially since it has been and continues to be a historic home to many of the city's prominent artists and cultural icons. Hopefully with the support of its partners, the Bloor-Annex BIA, Bloor-Yorkville BIA, The Ontario Arts Council, Tourism Toronto and the City of Toronto, the corridor will bring more life to the area and remind Torontonians and tourists of the great culture centre our city is.