Arts and culture are leading drivers of Doors Open Toronto this weekend (May 25 & 26) with tours and talks that invite the public behind the scenes and illuminate the creative process. Pictured above is Open Studio, one of Toronto’s finest printmaking facilities, a highlight of any tour of arts hub, 401 Richmond St. A wealth of other creative spaces are featured among the more than 150 buildings opening their doors to the public on Saturday and Sunday; see website for details as well as a schedule of talks and tours. This year’s theme is Creators, Makers & Innovators but the roster is by no means restricted to creative spaces, there are dozens of other buildings opening their doors above and beyond the theme.
It may look like a heap of dirt under the Gardiner Expressway but to the folks at Fort York National Historic Site it’s the sweetest pile of earth that’s ever been moved. Last month, construction got underway on the long-awaited Fort York visitor centre, a 26,000-square foot museum facility that will finally give the fort a front door through which to welcome the city.
“I can go back to files from 30 years ago citing the need for a visitor centre at Fort York,” says museum administrator David O’Hara. “This project really has been a long time coming.”
Last year, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts expanded its building tours to feature backstage areas including wardrobe and wig rooms, stars’ dressing rooms, the orchestra pit, green room, ballet rehearsal studio and much more. The last two tours of the year cast off Sunday December 2 and 9 at 10:30 am. Tickets for the 90-minute tours are sold in advance online or at the box office for $20 each, $15 students and seniors.
Associate Director of Patron Services Jefferson Guzman says you never know what you’ll run into on a given tour. When Donny and Marie were encamped at the venue for a short run Mr. Osmond ran into the group and introduced himself and shook everyone’s hand: “He was very generous,” recalls Guzman who has also seen opera singers give impromptu performances in a rehearsal studio or had tech hands stop explain their roles.
Discover why the acoustics of the Diamond Schmitt-designed hall have been rated amongst the best in the world, visit private member lounges, and take in the architecture of the magnificent City Room and walk in the footsteps of opera and ballet’s greatest stars.
Photo by Debbie Ohi aka Inkygirl
State of good repair work may not be especially sexy but it’s critically important and can be mighty expensive, especially on a heritage property like the Berkeley Street Theatre (above), originally a Consumer’s Gas building completed in 1889.
Last month, the City’s Cultural Assets team was recognized with a Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence for restoration work on the exterior of the theatre (home to Canadian Stage Company). Deteriorating masonry was allowing water to penetrate the structure and as any homeowner knows, a little water can do a lot of damage.
Starchitect Frank Gehry, right, and theatre impresario David Mirvish fielded questions this morning at a press conference where they confirmed plans to transform King Street West from the Royal Alexandra Theatre, which will be preserved, to the Princess of Wales Theatre, which will be demolished along with the rest of a city block to make way for three gargantuan condominium towers and a sprawling six-story podium containing retail space, an art gallery housing Mirvish’s extensive collection of contemporary abstract art and a new home for OCAD University‘s Public Learning Centre.
Gehry stressed that “It’s precarious to show projects like this and make them look finished because they’re not. The base sketches are far from finished, these are works in progress.”
The plans have not been approved by the City but Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughan was on hand this morning to voice his support for the concept, which will transform a major portion of his ward.