Toronto’s Year of Public Art

Toronto’s Year of Public Art

Photo Credit: Jocelyn Reynolds via City of Toronto 10 Year Public Art Strategy

ArtworxTO to create cultural hubs in outdoor spaces

Chiara Greco, Editor-in-Chief

ArtworxTO is a public art initiative taking place in conjunction with BigArtTO as part of the city of Toronto’s new 10 Year of Public Art Strategy. This program is set to renew Toronto’s commitment to public and accessible art during the pandemic. Through investing in the access to public art ArtworxTO will work to improve and invest in the city’s public art presence whilst also supporting the innovation of public art, design, delivery, and engagement. 

According to the city of Toronto’s website, “ArtworxTO will leave an enduring legacy of new works and funds, plus create sustainable opportunities for Toronto’s artists seeking to work in the public realm beyond 2021.” The program is expected run from around January 30 2021 to December 18 2021 and will take place across four Community Cultural Hubs located at Cloverdale Mall, Downsview Park, Scarborough Town Centre, and Union station. The program will also make its events and art exhibitions available virtually on their website as well. 

The main goal of this program is to promote voices that have traditionally been marginalized in public art across the city. According to ArtworxTO, “This is an ideal opportunity to foreground the voices of BIPOC artists, curators, and creators of all kinds” many of whom have been left out of the wider sphere of art in Toronto. As such, this program is committed to advancing reconciliation in Toronto through Indigenous place-making by addressing the deficit of Indigenous cultural representation within the city’s public realm. 

This 10 Year Public Art Strategy will also give public artists the recognition they deserve in transforming the city’s community spaces. From murals to public poetry ArtworxTO is working to create diverse and engaging activities and installations to help reinvigorate the cultural sector despite the toll the pandemic has put on those working within this sector. By issuing open calls to artist and curators this program has allowed for artists of all walks of life to be represented within their communities. Not only is this project putting focus on the city’s outdoor spaces but it is also giving recognition to public artist who otherwise may go unnoticed. 

The Toronto Star has highlighted a few of the expected installations noting that come February there will be “a Toronto Archives spotlight on Black female artists in time for Black History Month.” Other expected events include a project entitled ‘Poems for Your Path’ which is expected to showcase poetry murals in public spaces. Each of these installations will put the focus on creating an inclusive environment to view and engage with each project. 

While the pandemic and lockdown have slowed down the engagement within Toronto’s arts and culture sector, this program has the potential to invite a whole new audience. With most of the art popping up in public outdoor spaces, those who may not frequent galleries will have the chance to view and engage with these installations with no extra charge attached. Inevitably, COVID-19 restrictions and stay at home orders will inhibit a full unveiling of most of these projects, but despite this virtual viewings and art maps will be made available. For those able to attend in-person ArtworxTO’s temporary installations can be expected to pop up in the latter half of January or early February. So while you’re going out for your next customary neighbourhood walk keep an eye out for these upcoming installations.