Artful Citybuilding

June 23, 2015 at 6pm–9pm [Eastern Time (US & Canada)]

OCAD University - Student Gallery
52 McCaul
Toronto, ON M5T 1V9
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Art and design are vital building blocks in establishing the vibrancy, sense of identity and economic stability of cities. Arts and cultural industries contribute approximately $11.3 billion to our city’s annual GDP [1];  beyond that, direct correlations have been found between participation in cultural activities and overall well being, including physical and mental health, social engagement, and satisfaction with life [2].

Speakers will share a variety of viewpoints on the role art and design play in our cities and strategies for supporting and utilizing these industries to build thriving and livable cities. In the discussion to follow, we’ll break into smaller groups to begin to articulate a vision for the artful city and devise tactics to bring this vision to life, asking how governments, institutions, developers, businesses and individuals can better engage and partner with creative communities.


 Speakers to include:

Department of Unusual Certainties is a Toronto-based alternative research and design studio working at the interstices of urban design, planning, public art, spatial research and mapping. DoUC operate under the mandate of expanding our conception of what urban design is and what it can achieve. The Department’s work is informed by one guiding philosophy – that the city is the physical manifestation of a long sequence of unusual certainties, each one simultaneously more unusual and yet more certain than its predecessor.


No.9 is an arts orga­ni­zation that uses art and design to bring awareness to envi­ron­mental concerns delivering programs in schools and in the public domain designed to encour­age the use of cre­ative think­ing to resolve envi­ron­mental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle.


The STEPS Initiative is an award winning public arts organization that builds the capacity of citizens to take action in creating more vibrant and connected communities through what they call public space ARTivism. They provide a platform for citizens to lead initiatives that validate their personal experiences, their community’s cultures and histories, and their concern for social and environmental issues, all while transforming their community’s public spaces. Recently, STEPS Initiative received an honour from OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst for their PATCH Project, an initiative transforming underused spaces (like construction sites and empty storefronts) across Toronto into an ongoing curated exhibit.


PARTISANS is comprised of architects, designers, and cultural enthusiasts devoted to design that unseats expectations and creates the conditions for transformative experiences, and the studio behind the AART proposal for an internationally competitive, multidisciplinary artist residency program that harnesses Toronto’s Bylaws and accelerated real estate development to activate and multiply the city’s creative capital, prioritizing the importance of art and architecture in 21st century city building.


Distl is a young creative intelligence studio responding to unprecedented scale and pace of urbanization and the complex new economic, social and environmental challenges that come with it. They  work with community and business associations local government and private enterprise to deliver design solutions, compelling research and thought leadership that helps cities and their neighbourhoods thrive. Recent projects have included a comprehensive report on the state of urban manufacturing and the NXT City Prize.




Miranda Corcoran ·

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