Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lemon: Toronto Festivals: Opiates for the Masses

With apologies to Karl Marx:
Festivals are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. They are the opium of the people.

The City of Toronto lists 412 special events in Toronto on its website ranging from poetry readings and speechs on the evils of Globalization to the Film Festival, the Luminato Festival and last night's overpromoted and underperformed Nuit Blanche.

Some of these festivals are great events but most just serve some deep-seated need that Toronto politicians and residents have to feel wanted or special or world class.

I live in the City's gallery district and had about 200,000 visitors come to my neighbourhood last night to enjoy Nuit Blanche.

We joined our guests for an hour or so - surely with all the hype there would be something worth seeing. But there wasn't. The mental health centre appeared to have a karaoke thing going on, the Drake had a couple of DJ's til 5 am or so (that was warmly appreciated by we all), there was a pink building and there were lots and lots of peeps wandering around doing what we were doing, looking for something interesting.
Most of the attractions were art galleries with the same walls and the same artworks as they had the day before or will have all of the coming week. Some great art but no thanks to Nuit Blanche.
Most headed for Trinity Bellwoods Park where last year my chum Tom Sokoloski did a thoughtful and dramatic installation which he has since exported to NYC.
But when we got there, there was no there, there this time.
Nothing except a bunch of Scotiabank booths promoting, well, Scotiabank; a place to buy popcorn; and a seven foot high geodesic dome that Buckie Fuller would write a letter to the editor about in his sadness.
The city spent nigh of a million bucks to promote this thing and I must admit I didn't go to the other two official nodes of "exhilarating contemporary art experiences". So I am only reporting on what we saw.
The city employes 34 people (figure another $5 million a year) in its special events division to produce this pointless, heartness and spirtless event.
It does help David Miller get his residents' minds off of a bankrupt and dirty city with a useless transit system, though.

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