Friday, November 18, 2011

December 1 & 2 Creative Works Studio Annual Exhibition

If you care deeply about access to the arts as I do and also support diversity of voices in the arts you'll want to come out and support a community of artists that are finding healing through art--even as they share their vision of our city with anyone who is able to make time and come out to view the art and meet the artists.

It will make you feel great!


Creative Works Studio features new works at our Toronto Treasures Art Exhibit. We will also launch our 2012 art calendar, The Blues, which will be available for sale at the gallery.

The Creative Works Studio, is an occupational therapy arts based community program that helps individuals living with mental health challenges heal and cope through the power of artistic expression. It is part of St. Michael Hospital's Inner City Health Program and operates in partnership with the Good Shepherd.The studio believes in public education to reduce stigmatization.

THANKS TO OUR PATRONS:The Al Green Gallery, Boome Canadian Graphics, CIHR-Canadian Istitute of Health Research, TD Canada Trust, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Lundbeck, Ontario Arts Council, ShaRna Foundation, Toronto Arts Council, Long and McQuade, Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Silverberg Art Showing at Sage Cafe on McCaul

Jerry Silverberg
SAGE CAFE - 166 McCaul (north of Dundas - just around the corner from the AGO)
So after seeing Chagall as the main course come and have some desert of art and cakes at Sage.
The show runs until the end of December.
Sage hours - 9am - 5pm , 7 days a week.- Best viewing times 9 - 12 and 1:30 - 5.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Day

"Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul."

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Clay and Paper Theatre's "Night of Dread"

"Oh look, we can PARTICIPATE", exclaimed a young mom to her partner and children as they arrived at the launch point of Clay and Paper's annual "Night of Dread" event that began and ended at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto. Volunteers helped the family outfit themselves with masks from the theatre's assembled accessories available for sign out. Participation proved to be but one of the extraordinary components of this community arts event.

Halloween has always seemed to me a bit of a difficult holiday in modern times. Most of us no longer believe in ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. We feel guilty as parents about scaring our kids with superstition. Besides, aren't there enough horrors in the world? When we think "okay, let's dress up in more fanciful, happy clothes" we run into another set of dilemmas.

"A fairy princess?"

"No, no, too sexist! Gender stereo-typing, that will never do!"

"A belly-dancer? An Indian brave?"

"No, no! Cultural appropriation! What will the neighbours think!"

And what about the whole thing of "trick or treating"? In a time when so many children are overweight, we know the dangers of high carbohydrate loads on the whole system, not to mention tooth decay, do we want our kids super sugar-loaded. We fear for their safety on dark streets at night. It's just hard to celebrate the tradition anymore.

How do we update this late autumn holiday in a way that is meaningful to modern times without causing the wincing feeling that we are going against our core values or exposing our children to harms of various sorts? Clay and Paper Theatre has crafted an annual event that keeps the core components of Halloween, while avoiding all of the baggage. Their creativity has resulted in a new celebration in harmony with the season and our actual lives.

Halloween is a festival for a time when the days are becoming darker and primitive people might have worried that the sun was dying. It is a time of fears and shadows. Some of the oldest civilizations had traditions of building fires on hillsides to feed the sun and wearing disguises to fool malevolent spirits.

In our modern world there are shadows of fears that haunt all of us in our dark moments. Near the gardens in Dufferin Grove Park, Clay and Paper Theatre had set up a garden of fears. Economically (and humorously) using pizza boxes on sticks, they had emblazoned the boxes with modern fears: nuclear annihilation, global warming, bio-hazards, isolation, losing a home, bankruptcy, financial ruin, war... and so on. What a fantastic opportunity for family dialogue as people moved about the garden of fears and chose which fear to pluck from the garden and carry in the parade as representative of that individuals worst fear this year.

Masks were black and white papier mache creations that, to me, symbolized the dark and light in all of us, in the changing seasons and our world. Walking about among us as we selected our fears to carry and our black & white masks to wear (if we chose to wear a mask) were a collection of giant puppets representing some of our fears. I was struck in the gut by the representation of pollution. She was a giant blue puppet with a serenely beautiful appearing face and flowing blue silken fabric, horrendously littered with bits of plastic garbage bags and excretions of fast food containers, drink cups, plastic water bottles and straws. Some of the huge puppets were a bit more mysterious and we didn't quite know what they were representing until the end of the event.

A bugle call and drum roll signaled the assembly of the march and about 1,000 people or more set out following as we paraded our fears through the streets of Toronto. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people who came out of houses and stores to watch the passing march. Some were delighted and seemed to know what to expect. Others were extremely puzzled, even a little worried. It was a long enough route that children were wanting to be carried by the end of the journey so families with young kids are advised that a stroller or wagon will likely be required at some point in the trek.

Back at the Dufferin Grove Park we walked along a path of shrines. This lacked any explanation but it seemed to me that they were shrines erected to things lost in the past, a loved pet, a farm. Made from the simplest of materials they were reminiscent of Day of the Dead shrines built on grave sites.

We walked towards a bonfire in the middle of a circle of people. Here the fears we had carried through the dark night streets were burnt in a warming sacrificial fire. The crowd cheered the burning of the fears. The giant puppets representing major fears like "Corruption & Greed" "Nuclear Annihilation" were introduced as they did their final macabre dance around the fire. With a fanfare of humorously discordant circus music, the "Fear of the Year" was introduced. In this year's case that was "The fear of selfish leadership" represented here in Toronto appropriately by a giant gravy boat. The artistic reference was to our hapless Mayor Ford who promised to save billions from the city budget by cutting the "gravy" and then his hired consultants couldn't find any such gravy. His attempts to instead define libraries and culture as gravy have met strong citizen opposition. The gravy boat was taken on a last lurching voyage. The responsive creativity of the team at Clay and Paper Theatre added a last minute touch drawn from the latest headlines as a Margaret Delahunty lookalike pursued the gravy boat on it's final voyage to the fire. A great cheer rose up from the crowd as the final great fear went up in a tower of flame.

Death dancers waltzed around the bonfire as our fears burned. Only the fear of death which can never totally leave us remained alive. The figures of death beckoned to the crowd to come and dance with death. The message to my understanding was that only when we learn to dance with death are we truly alive. The circle of dark and light, yin and yang came into focus in this conclusion, sombre, meditative and graceful. Then exploded into light with fire twirlers and jugglers harking back to a primitive time where warmth and light drove away the terrors of winter and darkness.

What a wonderful achievement and gift to the people of Toronto. My one and only suggestion to the creative team is that they lost people at the conclusion due to the length of the march. It was a very cold night, so that was also a factor. Some great entertainment was available at the end and I would have liked to stay and dance but like many others I was freezing and very tired so we packed up at the conclusion of the fire twirlers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clay & Paper's Night of Dread Oct. 29

Night of Dread

Dufferin Grove Park
Saturday, October 29, 2011

4-6PM: Gathering

6PM: Parade

7:15PM - Fire Circle

Learn the fire circle chant:

"We laugh at fear, And we laugh at death, And we'll laugh at you, 'Til our very last breath, Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

8:30PM: Celebration with Lemon Bucket Orkestra

Dress Code: Black & White & Dreadful

Pay-What-You-Can/ $10 Suggested Donation

Monday, October 24, 2011

Speaking up on behalf of aboriginal children

Today the Winnepeg Free Press reported that "Child rights' advocates are hoping to shame the federal government into improving the treatment of aboriginal children.The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the ecumenical group KAIROS are asking the United Nations to ensure that Ottawa gives the same services to aboriginal children as it does to other Canadians.

In a report prepared for the United Nations committee on the rights of the child, the groups say government funding for health, education and child welfare is much lower on reserves than off.

As a result, they say native kids often lack the basic necessities of life.

They point out that Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its performance is under review right now."

When I served on the Lieutenant Governor's Steering Committee on Aboriginal literacy, I saw first hand the problems faced by Canada's First Nations children. One of the first things I learned was that money was only a part of the problem. The fact that funding lags behind educational and social welfare funding for children in the rest of the province is a crime that must be addressed but in order for those dollars to be targeted and used accountably, there has to be an untangling of bureaucratic snarls and more transparency.

One of the truths that I came to understand while meeting with representatives of band councils while developing the first summer literacy day camps, and spending last season working with Equay-wuk (Women's Circle) is that liberal white guilt about children's welfare in First Nations colludes with right-wing priorities to result in a "do-nothing" outcome. Well-meaning child welfare advocates too often allow themselves to be silenced because they feel that as white people, they cannot address First Nations issues, even when they know that education or child welfare dollars are not being used effectively in a community. There is not one set of problems with children's welfare in First Nations communities. Because these communities are self-governing, the picture differs from community from community and it is important for decision-makers and social justice advocates to understand that it is not a "one-size fits all" solution. It is messy and complex and if we care about justice for these children we have to be prepared to listen and also be prepared to speak out.

Sometimes it takes more than a village to raise a child when that village is failing the child. Sometimes it takes a nation to care and not to be silenced because of some ancient mistakes made by some of our ancestors.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Virtual Beading Circle

Fantastic use of the internet to share craft knowledge across distances.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ottawa Days of Action to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, October 24-26

Join the CSI: Ottawa Days of Action to End Canadian Involvement in
Torture, October 24-26
We Cannot Let Canadian Individuals and Institutions Get Away With

In addition to many reasons already listed (see http://
), here's three more good reasons to join us:

1. CSIS and the RCMP, which were found to be complicit in the torture
of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, and
Muayyed Nureddin while all were detained in Syria, have been silent
on their ongoing relationship with Syrian Military Intelligence,
which regularly engages in torture and is complicit in the mass
detentions and horrific acts of torture and murder that have been
taking place for years and which have intensified during 2011 in
response to demands for democracy.

Leading up to CSI Ottawa and during those three days, we will seek a
public statement from both agencies that they have (or will
immediately) break all ties with Syrian Military Intelligence and
that they will apologize for their past relationship with such a
blood-stained agency (as well as to those tortured with Canadian

2. A Libyan-Canadian citizen who was imprisoned and tortured for
eight years by the Gaddafi regime says that agents from the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) were among foreign agents who
interrogated him. Documents confirming this were found by members of
Human Rights Watch. See

This is of course a common practice that CSIS will partner with
brutal, torturing regimes such as Syria, Egypt, and Libya and then
claim that they "did not know" or "did not have available to them"
publicly available reports of systematic torture.

3. On 18 October 2008, Ivan Apaolaza Sancho was deported from Canada
by special charter flight, manacled hand and foot, and handed over to
authorities in Spain. The deportation was a bitter ending to a
fifteen month campaign in which the Basque man was imprisoned in
Montreal, denied the right to apply for refugee status, and
eventually deported - all on the basis of information that a Canadian
tribunal recognized was obtained under torture.

Members of the Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture raised
Ivan's case across the province in 2008. Now, he faces a trial after
three years of detention in Spain, and could be jailed for 30 years.
More at

The culture of impunity around Canadian involvement in torture is
widespread. Officials in numerous government agencies complicit in
the torture of Canadian citizens, refugees and permanent residents
continue to proceed with the dangerous assumption that when it comes
to torture, whether "direct or indirect," they can get away with it.
While Canadians were rightly upset that the government did not arrest
visiting individuals who are proudly complicit in torture (such as
Dick Cheney and George W. Bush), we also need to focus on the fact
that officials here in Canada continue to engage in policies and
decisions which result in the most unimaginable of human rights abuses.

CSI Ottawa is an attempt to remind the public, and the government,
that they cannot get away with their involvement in torture, and that
our exercise of direct democracy and seeking accountability will not
end until permanent changes are made.

Join CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture
Organized by Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, a wholly realized
subsidiary of the Homes not Bombs network,

TASC mailing list

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Commonsense Social Media for Small Arts Orgs

A few Do's and Don't's about Social Media for artists and small arts orgs

Do remember to include in your plan all your skills that are relevant to a successful social media campaign
You've been talking to your supporters, colleagues and audience for a long time and you know them and their interests better than anyone. You also are skilled at reaching out to them creatively and inexpensively. For pete's sake, you are artists! Those skills will be key in making your social media campaign a success!

Don't be phony in your social media voice
Social media is ... well... social. It's got a tone like talking to your neighbours about your work today. Your neighbours and friends will be delighted to hear your voice saying "here's what we've been working at in the studio today" in your own voice. Having that voice delegated to someone outside your company will feel phony and insulting to them. If it feels like a trick in social media, people turn off.

Do have the confidence to run your own social media campaign
The best social media campaign is grass-roots, just like you started your arts organization.

Don't feel you have to spend big bucks on a social marketing professional
No social media "guru" knows your art and your audience like you and your staff do. So what if they have 2,000 Twitter followers, are they relevant to you, or just other social media gurus all jabbering to each other with re-cycled tweets and links?

Do take the time to blog yourself
I know you don't have the time, but you know the best blog-posts are short ones. Here's some good tricks. A photo is worth 1,000 words. Snap photos with your cellphone or digital camera and post to your blog with a small comment. Tumblr is a great platform for quickie bloggers. If you are more of a talker than a writer, make brief voice recordings and ask someone to transpose them as blog posts. Or, make a time to sit down once a week with someone in your organization who does like to write and give him or her a list of things to interview you on. Or just have a chat and record it. A 30-60 minute meeting about what's going on with the company right now should yield a week's worth of blog posts that can be timed for daily release.

Don't let a staff member turn the Artistic Director into a sock puppet
If a post is listed as being from the Music Director or AD, it really should be that person's words. To charge a staff person to write on your behalf without input or approval isn't fair to them or you.

Do make meaningful connections with colleagues and organizations with common-cause.
Guest write for your colleague's blog and share your posts with organizations that will be interested for example your post on set-construction with an umbrella theatre organization or your post on financial planning with an arts administration website. Ask your colleagues to post to your sites. Include the news from other organizations in your tweets and Facebook updates.

Don't be territorial in social media
If all you tout in your blog, facebook page or twitter stream is your own news, you will be preaching to the choir instead of reaching new audiences.

Do listen to your followers and engage with them
Social media is social, so a part of every social media campaign should be to spend a little time reading what your followers are saying: about you, about other arts organizations, and about things in general. Comment, re-tweet, and thank them for their favorable mentions of your organization.

Don't be a broken record
You wouldn't invite your neighbour to a party and then invite them again, and again, and again, using the same message, would you? So invite and follow-up in social media much as you would in other media.

Do use more than one social media that is relevant to your company
As a suggestion, pick one blog platform to share your news in greater length than a twitter post or Facebook update allows. Create a Facebook group for your followers to publicize events. Use a photo site like Flickr or Picasa to host photos & slideshows and a video site like YouTube for video snippets. You may or may not find the social aspect of the photo & video sites useful. But embedding photos in blogs and Facebook posts enlivens them. Finally use Twitter to connect followers in short news bursts to your content in blogs and Facebook. As you develop your social media campaign you will find other tools to use, but no one tool will make effective use of your social media time or effectively distribute your news.

Don't get too enthusiastic about linking and automating your social media messages
As we've seen different social media platforms have different uses and formats. A 140 character twitter post sounds brief and possibly rude when repeated on Facebook, so be thoughtful about linking media. Auto welcoming followers used to be recommended but has become so prevalent that many people regard this as spam and will unfollow anyone who uses the tools. Services that spam followers with auto quotes are fairly universally despised and will lose you followers.

Do use buffer apps to time distribute your posts.
You may want to do all your social media posts at one time of day and all your blog posts one day a week, but many posts at one time will bore your audience and also not reach some potential followers. Twitter streams are one place where people only are likely to see the posts made in the last hour, so use a buffer to send your tweets over the day (twitter is probably the only social media where you can repeat a key message like an event reminder). Facebook posts can also be spaced through the day. (I use ) and you can choose whether blog posts will be published now or at a future date.

Do remember that the message of your company is important
Probably only the artistic director and/or senior management can really articulate key messages about projects, mission and artistic direction of the company. Identify the person or people within your company who will craft the social media messages. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the plan and will follow-through.

Don't give the social media job to the intern
The intern may be able to Facebook up a storm about their keg stand at the party last night but that doesn't mean they know how to tell your story to your key audience. Interns can help but don't leave them in charge of the process or be prepared to accept the results.

Do use your grassroots skills in building up your number of followers
Hey you built your mailing list & email list from 0 to thousands, right? How? By asking people who visited your website to join the mailing list right? By capturing Box Office data, by asking people to enter contests and by asking people to save money, save the trees by signing onto your email list instead. When you have events, that's the time to ask people to join your Facebook group or follow you on twitter. Make it easy with slips of paper they can take away, inserted in programs or available in the lobby on info tables.

Don't get greedy
Don't try to build followers by following hundreds of random individuals. They won't stay and aren't relevant to your success. In the worst case scenario you could lose your account through being listed as a spammer. Having 100 followers who actually come to your events is better than having 3000 followers with only 25 actually coming to your events.

Do give incentives
You know how to do this! Give potential social media contacts incentives by running contests for free tickets or other goodies available only to Twitter followers or Facebook Friends (but don't make these goodies valuable enough to annoy other contacts).

Do evaluate your social media plan
How are you doing? Did you sell out a show using just Facebook? Are you getting more re-tweets of your news? How many lists is your twitter stream on? How many mentions did you get on Twitter last month? How many blog visitors have you logged (Google analytics or site-tracker have good tools).

Don't get discouraged if you don't see results right away
A good social media campaign is not going to happen over-night for most of us. It is slogging work like building a mailing list. If you are not seeing results after a few months you may need to fine-tune your plan, discover why your blog posts and updates are not engaging & growing your audience.

Do remember the goal
You want to deepen the engagement of your existing audience with your company so that they will be more likely to support you by increased attendance and financial contribution. Plus, you want to reach new audiences-- while spending less money on advertising and postage. You also want to be able to brag about how efficient and green your company is in achieving these goals.

That's pretty hot stuff so it's worth some work, right?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Metropolitan Opera Company breaks fundraising record

The New York Times reports: "In the warren of Met administrative offices, the people who run one of the world’s busiest opera houses had something else to applaud: a record amount of contributions for the fiscal year that ended in July. According to preliminary figures released for the first time, the Met hauled in $182 million, an astonishing amount in a tough economic climate and 50 percent more than it raised just the year before."

In arts offices around the world, questions are being asked about this outcome. Is this an endorsement for the Metropolitan Opera's revolutionary electronic distribution in theatres; a vote of confidence for their current artistic direction; or simply the effect of donor behaviour--backing core arts groups in hard times?One major donor David Knott agrees with the electronic distribution policy saying it was a decision that "if we can't bring people to the opera, let's bring opera to the people". He put his money where his mouth was in making a $500,000 one-time gift and pledging a bequest to the company through it's planned giving program. Electronic distribution certainly seems to be a way to follow the market. In its 2003 study "The Magic of Music", the Knight Foundation found that while 60% of Americans listened to classical music, only 5% had ever entered a concert hall. Listening to classical music is not declining, going to concert halls is declining. Smart, business-minded donors like David Knott will be more inclined to invest in arts organizations that make decisions soundly based on audience trends, it would seem.

In a time when 2 out of 3 arts organizations have sustained a decline in income, the phenomenal success of the Metropolitan Opera in increasing its donations has to be seen as tied to the most significant new part of its program, the electronic distribution of opera in theatres. This fact should be an encouragement to those trying to pioneer new methods of distribution and electronic outreach initiatives. From my own work in virtual music, I know that resistance to new forms of distribution seems like a brick wall at times, but smart donors are rewarding those arts organizations bold enough to break through to reach their audiences outside the concert hall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Difference Engine Initiative presents results!

Monday October 3rd, 7pm
Ballroom of the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street W.)

The first round of the Difference Engine Initiative, a six week gamemaking incubator for women, is nearly over and we will be presenting the games that they made at this Hand Eye Society Social for the community to play!

Most of the creators will be in attendance and Mare Sheppard, co-coordinator of the DEI, will be hosting the evening. In addition to the usual drinking and chatting, this Social also features a special guest from Chicago, Erin Robinson, who will be doing a presentation touching on her experiences as a game developer (including Puzzle Bots and the freeware Nanobots) as well as her role helping highschool girls make games.

The first and second rounds of the Difference Engine Initiative are part of the OMDC-funded TIFF Nexus.

Contact Contemporary Music Sept. 18

Mary-Katherine Finch, violoncello

Wallace Halladay, saxophone

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Gallery 345
345 Sorauren Avenue


Ryan Scott, vibraphone

Allison Wiebe, piano

Chang, Dorothy Walk on Water (2004)
Canada/USA, b. 1970
Lemay, Robert Tie-break (2011) * world premiere
Canada, b. 1960
Denisov, Edison Sonata for alto saxophone and violoncello (1995)
USSR/Russia, 1929-1996
Vustin, Alexander Musique pour l’ange (1995)
Russia, b. 1943
Oehring, Helmut Leuchter (aus: kurz in Müll gestochert) (1994/2011)
Germany, b. 1961
Karassikov, Vadim Casus in terminus (1994)

Russia, b. 1972

Contact Contemporary Music members Mary-Katherine Finch and Wallace Halladay curate a concert of music for saxophone and violoncello. From beauty to vulgarity, and from the sacred to the profane, these two virtuoso musicians present an intimate programme at Gallery 345.

One of the Soviet composer Edison Denisov’s last works highlights the lyrical qualities of the two instruments. As Denisov said, "Beauty is the principal factor in my work. This means not only beautiful sound…but beautiful ideas as understood by mathematicians.” The programme includes the works of Russian followers of Denisov: the religious transcendence of Vustin (with guest percussionist Ryan Scott), and the stoic expressionism of Karassikov (with CONTACT pianist Allison Wiebe).

The music of German Helmut Oehring is some of the most interesting to emerge from East Berlin – with late training in classical music, this electric guitarist explores sound and vulgarity in his musical description of Fred Leuchter - Holocaust denier and designer of instruments of capital punishment. Allison Wiebe will spend the intermission preparing the piano to join the duo again.

Vancouver-based composer Dorothy Chang’s Walk on Water provides the title for the concert, and fellow Canadian Robert Lemay was inspired to write this dynamic duo a work for this occasion.

Saxophonist Wallace Halladay captures the qualities of the modern virtuoso, being at home in numerous styles, from the traditional to jazz and beyond. A specialist in the performance of contemporary music, he has commissioned and premiered numerous works. A soloist with the Vancouver Symphony and Esprit Orchestras, he also inaugurated the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony's "Intersections" Series. He recently worked with Philippe Leroux on the North American premiere of his saxophone concerto in Montréal. He recorded the two saxophone Sequenzas of Berio and the Colgrass concerto for NAXOS and is in demand as a performer with new music groups across Canada and the US. Wallace holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, and studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Arno Bornkamp. Wallace was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, the first woodwind player to be awarded in its 25-year history. Wallace is a Conn-Selmer Artist and plays Selmer (Paris) saxophones.

Cellist Mary-Katherine Finch holds both Bachelor and Master degrees in performance from the University of Toronto. She performs frequently in recital with pianist Ron Greidanus. Playing an authentic baroque cello, she has appeared with Aradia, Baroque Music Beside the Grange, Grand River Baroque Festival and Toronto Masque Theatre. In the area of new music, she regularly collaborates with the ensembles Toca Loca and Ergo, and has premiered several chamber works of Canadian composers. Mary-Katherine frequently plays with the larger ensembles of the Mendelssohn, Isler, Amadeus and Elora Festival Choirs.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sept 11 Burlesque fundraiser for Fringe Show "Infinitum"


On Saturday September 10th, The Cheshire Unicorn will be hosting a Burlesque and Fashion Show Fundraiser to help raise money for their upcoming production, Infinitum.

Along with inspirational BURLESQUE and AERIALS SILKS performances by their talented and sexy cast, attendees can witness and participate in an exciting INFINITY AUCTION and cutting-edge THAI TEXTILE FASHION SHOW, all bought directly from the seamstresses themselves. In addition, there is promises of CHEAP DRINKS, MUSIC and DANCING!

Special guest burlesque performers include: RED HERRING as well as BILLIE BLACK from Les Coquettes!

So come out and support local theatre—it will be a night you won’t want to miss.

$10 for admission.
Show starts 8PM sharp.
Happy hour from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm!
19+ only.

Annex Theatre - 730 Bathurst Street

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Of interest to northern ON theatre artists and students

IMPACT THEATRE (Sioux Lookout)
is pleased to announce another great workshop in

Acting, Writing, and Directing for Film happening in Sioux Lookout, September 30-October 2, 2011.

We welcome all established and emerging artists between the ages of 13 to Adult within Northwestern Ontario to participate!

The goal of this workshop is to build the skills and regional connections needed to make a film adaptation of A ROUGH TRANSLATION- an original theatre production IMPACT Theatre created that addresses boundaries within dating relationships, identity and hope . To accomplish our goals we have invited the Actors Training Centre of Manitoba to provide intensive training related to acting, writing and directing for film. Our thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for the funding that has made this professional level workshop possible!

Mark these dates on your calendar!

Advanced Acting, Writing, & Directing for Film

Date: Sept 30 (6:30-9pm), Oct 1 (9-4), Oct 2 (9-4)

Instructors: Jeff Skinner & Nicholas Burns, Actors Training Centre of Manitoba

Location: Sioux Lookout, Queen Elizabeth High School (To be confirmed)

Who: Ages 13- Adult

Fee: Early Bird (by Sept 16): $50 Regular: $60

We we would be happy to provide billeting for out of town guests!

Just contact us to let us know what you need!

Workshop Description:

In this advanced level workshop participants will work with a professional film writer/editor to learn techniques to effectively tell a story through film. Using the story of A ROUGH TRANSLATION as a spring board for discussion participants will be introduced to different ways to address challenging subject matter and then given the opportunity to practice those techniques. With the coaching of a professional director and acting instructor participants will learn advanced acting techniques that bring a story to life ! Participants will have the chance to further their skills in the areas that interest them most including writing, storyboarding, acting, and directing. Through this workshop IMPACT Theatre hopes to connect with regional artists who might take part in the film adaptation of A ROUGH TRANSLATION, however all artists are welcome to attend.

* It is assumed that participants have some prior experience or training in acting, writing and/or film.

Artist Biographies:Jeff Skinner’s artistic career is very diverse and includes acting, writing, directing and producing in theatre, film and television. He has performed in over close to a hundred theatrical productions, films and television shows including The Big White with Robin Williams, Falcon Beach for Global and Scared Silent with Penelope Ann Miller. He is currently a partner in Two Lagoons Entertainment and enjoys sharing his skills and experience as an acting Instructor/Coach with the Actors Training Centre of Manitoba.

Nicholas Burns works as a freelance writer and artist creating storyboards using conventional and computer media. He has written many scripts for educational and mainstream comics, radio plays, short films, TV movies and feature films. He has storyboarded dozens of feature films, TV movies and music videos and has become well know in the industry as a “script doctor” with the ability to help writers and tell their stories. He has also written, produced and directed a mocumentary, Snoring, which was a winner at MocDocs and was broadcast nationally.

Register Early as Spaces are limited! See Attached Registration Form.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, contact:

Erin (EJ) Horvath, Director IMPACT Theatre

Friday, September 02, 2011

Beside Myself @ Artscape Wychwood Barns Sept 6-11

Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street, Toronto, ON (Christie just below St. Clair) Meet in Barn 2 Covered Street
Toronto, ON

New collective, Tones of Voice in association with the Goethe Foundation Toronto, is pleased to announce the debut of besidemyselfworld, a multi-disciplinary solo piece based on the autobiographical writings of the German autistic mute teenager, Birger Sellin. besidemyselfworld uses an emotionally powerful radiophonic soundtrack along with evocative light and imagery to convey the story of a young autistic man reaching out to the world through the once-impermeable walls of his autism.

besidemyselfworld is adapted by Mark Cassidy of Threshold Theatre and Darren Copeland of New Adventures in Sound Art, from Sellin’s groundbreaking book Ich will kein Inmich mehr sein (i dont want to be inside me anymore). German actor Sebastian Schäfer plays the narrator/technician who seeks to understand autism and the autistic element that exists in the creative personality. Media artists Katie Kehoe and Peter O’Neill equip Schäfer with a repertoire of portable multi-media devices to transform both theatrical and everyday environments into highly immersive worlds of sound, light, and abstract imagery.

The production marks the launching of Tones of Voice, a new company created by Copeland and Cassidy to present and develop stage and media works which merge sound and spoken word in innovative ways. Tones of Voice aims to reach an international audience by producing touring performances, digital media and online presentations.

Dates: September 6 to September 11, 2011
Tue-Sat @ 8 PM and Sun @ 2 PM
NOTE: September 9th performance in German
Tickets: Regular $10, Students $5, available only at the door.
To reserve, email:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pam McConnell on Toronto's Libraries

Councillor McConnell's message (in response to an email I sent her earlier) is clear and takes a stand against library cuts AND the whole direction of Mayor Ford. She does not believe that we should be "participating in a race to the bottom."!

Way to go, Pam! You have my vote!


Thank you for your message on the library system and your concerns about its future because of the recent reports by KPMG.

The consultants' reports have clearly demonstrated that the vast majority of City services are either essential or mandatory, and that there is very little waste that can be trimmed to balance the budget. As a result, KPMG only had a few non-legislated services and functions to be considered as frills. It is entirely unacceptable that our library system be considered as non-essential and an option for service cuts.

I am extremely critical of the options presented by the consultants, and I do not believe that we should be participating in a race to the bottom. Our library system is of vital importance to our community, whether it is the student doing school work, the new Canadian accessing learning tools and a social circle, or the family enjoying reading and learning. The success of our library system is testament to its importance in our community.

I consistently hear from residents that they want our city to maintain and improve our services. I heard this throughout the recent municipal election, at the meetings I have hosted and attended in the community, and in the calls and e-mails my office has received. I remain committed to defending the services and programs that make our city and our neighbourhoods desirable places to live, work, and play - from our libraries to the Riverdale Farm, our child care system to our long-term care homes, from our affordable housing program to our parks and recreation facilities.

Thank you, once again, for your message and your support for the libraries and city services. I hope that you will talk to your friends and neighbours about the city you want to live in and encourage them to make their voices heard.



Thursday, August 04, 2011

Stratford Festival announces Michael Langham Workshop

Call for submissions from Canadian directors for 2012

The Michael Langham Workshop
for Classical Direction
a director training program with emphasis on classical text

Michael Langham - Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 1956·1967
"Michael Langham was a cherished mentor and leacher, the intellectual architect of the
Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a master of his art. His visionary approach to
Shakespeare laid the foundation for the Festival's creative practice. The Michael
Langham Workshop for Classical Direction works to ensure that future generations of
artists have access to the same tools that Michael himself used to create rich and resonant
theatre; I am honoured that we can pass on his gifts to our country's finest emerging

Des McAnuff, Artistic Director, Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Des McAnuff, Artistic Director and Antoni Cimolino. General Director announce that the
Stratford Shakespeare Festival will continue to offer The Michael Langham Workshop
for Classical Direction in 20 12. The program is overseen by David Latham, Theatre
Training Consultant and Dean Gabourie, Assistant Artistic Director. The program's
inaugural year was 2010. Participants in 201 1 were:
  • Eric Benson (Halifax) -1st yr
  • Sharon Bajer (Winnipeg) - 2nd yr
  • Dian Marie Bridge (Toronto) - 2nd yr
  • Heather Davies (London) - 1 st yr
  • Alan Dilworth (Toronto) - 1 st yr
  • Varrick Grimes (Stratford) _1 st yr
  • Thomas Morgan Jones (Toronto) - 2nd yr
  • Rachel Peake (Vancouver) - lst yr
  • Andrew Shaver (Montreal) - 1st yr
  • Ral.:hel Slaven (Brooklyn) - 2nd yr
  • Lezlie Wade (Niagara-on-thc-Lake) - 2nd yr
This call for submissions is for theatre directors, from emerging to mid-stages of careerbuilding,
who have some experience working with the classics, but not at a theatre of the
complexity and scope of the Festival. Their primary task will be assistant directing.
The Festival 's playbill includes a broad range of work from classics, musicals, contemporary
Canadian, British and American plays. Participants will be matched to one of these works. The
2012 season begins in February and ends in October. Assistant directors are usually required for 8- 16 weeks within that timeframe. See the 2012 press release:

Selected participants will be given the opportunity to choose 12 minutes of classical text
presented over two Directors' Workshop Presentation evenings in the Studio Theatre in
October of 20 12. Resources include actors, rehearsal space, venue, costumes and set pieces from our warehouse, product ion support and formal feedback plus travel and an honorarium.
Participants will join in existing classes in text, voice, movement and other disciplines regularly
held by the Festival 's Theatre Training Department as well as specialized classes taught by the
Theatre Training Consultant, Festival coaches and invited instructors exploring specific text,
vocal and physical skills for use in the rehearsal process of a classical play.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an institution rich in resources and hi story and this
program will include, as part of the networking component: tours, complimentary ti ckets to
shows, invitations to special events, access to archives and libraries, chats/dinners both formal
and informal with senior staff and guest directors.

Workshop participants will be paid a fee plus a travel and accommodation subsidy.
Please submit a resume, a letter of recommendation and a personal letter highlighting why
you would like to participate. Final matching of Assistant Directors to plays is entirely at the
discretion of the Festival creative team.

Please send your package by mail or email to:
Bonnie Green
Assistant Producer
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Box 520, 55 Queen St
Stratford, ON Canada N5A 6V2
519-27 1-4040 ex 2290
bgreen@stratfordshakespearcfcstival .com

Submissions must be postmarked or emailed by August 15,2011 but we appreciate
receiving your submission ASAP.

Final decisions for 2012 will be made no later than December of2011.
This program is partially funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diab update from TASC

Despite incredibly "Weak Case," Hassan Diab Forced to Keep Resisting Extradition to France

report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada,

July 12, 2011 – Dr Hassan Diab is a Canadian university professor fighting for his freedom, and for his life. The French government wants him to face trial for what they allege is Dr. Diab’s involvement in a 1980 bombing that killed four people. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

There’s only one problem. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints don’t match the suspect’s. His palm prints do not match. The physical description does not match. The handwriting does not match. The allegations against him have been found “weak”, “suspect,” and “confusing” by a Canadian judge. That same judge concluded June 6 that “the case presented by the Republic of France against Mr. Diab is a weak case; the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.” With such a strong defence, one would think Dr. Diab would be breathing easy. Instead, he is strapped to a GPS monitoring bracelet for which he must pay $2,000 a month (a new version of the Dickensian debtors’ prison, in which your freedom is now dependent on your ability to pay the state’s surveillance costs), barred from leaving his home without a court-approved monitor, and faced with a curfew worse than that imposed on most 10-year-olds. He cannot teach, his home is frequently invaded by RCMP agents, and he lives with the unimaginable stress that he might spend the rest of his life in a small French jail cell.

How could such an outrage occur? Under Canada’s extradition law, the duty of a Canadian court and the Minister of Justice is, first and foremost, to the government seeking an individual. That individual no longer enjoys the rights that are supposed to be accorded everyone else in this country facing the deprivation of their liberty. Canadian standards of evidence are thrown out the window. The case against the individual is presumed to be reliable, regardless of how many inaccuracies, errors, omissions, and contradictions are contained within it. One cannot present evidence to show one’s innocence, and the requesting state need not present any evidence of that innocence.

The deck is clearly stacked yet, as the Supreme Court of Canada has found, extradition is, in the end, not a legal issue, but a political decision: is the government of Canada willing to risk its relations with one of its extradition partners, or is it willing to sacrifice one of its citizens (or a refugee or permanent resident who is also sought) in the name of maintaining happy diplomacy?
In all extradition cases, the argument goes, an individual sought by another country can “sort out the mess” upon their arrival in a foreign jail. It is a process fraught with danger: a foreign government can carry out a persecution by proxy using the extradition law, claiming it has a case against a political pain in the neck living in Canada, presenting what amounts to a “prima facie” case without needing to vouch for the case’s accuracy.

In the Diab case, the French government seems intent on “solving” the mystery of the 1980 bombing at any cost, even if that means nabbing someone who appears to be the victim of mistaken identity. Their main piece of evidence is an “expert” handwriting report by someone who has a degree in biology and forensics and who only took 21 hours of training in expert handwriting analysis.

What was known as the Bisotti report was subject to a great deal of scrutiny during the extradition hearing, including three blistering critiques by internationally renowned handwriting experts. Indeed, the government of Canada declared that the case all came down to the handwriting, though it took numerous kicks at the can in coming to this very weak conclusion. In fact, both France and the Attorney General withdrew previous handwriting reports when it was revealed that they were based on handwriting samples that were not even written by Dr. Diab..
“Although I could not conclude it was manifestly unreliable, it was nonetheless highly susceptible to criticism and impeachment,” Judge Maranger wrote of the handwriting evidence. Indeed, he went on, “evidence presented on behalf of the person sought has largely served to substantially undermine the French report; it has been shown to be evidence that is susceptible to a great deal of criticism and attack.

“The Bisotti report has been shown to be based on some questionable methods and on an analysis that seems very problematic. The use of two completely separate signatures, i.e. Hassan Diab’s and an illegible fictitious signature, as a means of doing handwriting comparison analysis seems illogical…I found the French expert report convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect. Despite this view, I cannot say that it is evidence that should be completely rejected as “manifestly unreliable”.

It’s not just the weak handwriting evidence that is problematic. Maranger wrote that he accepted the Canadian government position that “there is no responsibility upon a requesting state to provide full disclosure of all of its evidence.” Hence, 10 witnesses can testify that an individual was not at the scene of the crime, but someone’s life in Canada could be uprooted and ruined because of the fact that the French, or any other government, can cook up a case that suits their needs and exclude exonerating evidence.

Maranger also notes that the Record of the case (ROC) as originally presented by France — in French, a language Dr. Diab does not speak – was “replete with seemingly disconnected information….while providing some conventional evidence, [it] also contained a great deal of argument, hypothesis, conjecture, and references to information received, without describing the source of that information or the circumstances upon which it was received.”
This, in essence, is secret, “unsourced” information. Where did it come from? Was torture involved?

The ROC also includes information that it gleaned from “a series of reports and newspaper articles,” hardly the stuff that would normally be accepted in a court (but which is normally included against individuals stigmatized by the Canadian government, such as refugees and, in the past decade, Muslims facing secret hearing security certificates and Tamils fleeing genocide.)

Diab’s lawyers raised nine specific issues of misrepresentations including omissions, inaccuracies, and contradictions in the French case, all of which they said amounted to an abuse of process. Maranger found there was an “air of reality” to the arguments put forward by Diab’s legal team, but in the end, he again dismissed them.
Indeed, Maranager bends over backwards to honour the French case, despite making statements such as “Although it was a blatant error requiring an explanation, I cannot find that it constitutes a complete failure of due diligence,” and concluding elsewhere that a problem in the record “was an inadvertent error.” How would he know? And more importantly, how can such problems be so easily dismissed in favour of the requesting state? In another instance, Maranger says “this was clearly a mistake on the part of the requesting authority that should have been corrected.” But it wasn’t. Verbal slap on the wrist to the French, an extra set of leg irons for Dr. Diab.
Under extradition law, Maranger says, there is “a presumption that evidence contained in the ROC is reliable.” So much for the presumption of innocence that is supposed to belong to the person sought.

Maranager found Diab’s defence was “compelling, and forcefully argued,” but that in the end, this did not matter, adding “to use standards of admissibility derived from Canadian criminal law…runs afoul of the governing statute.”

And so, like an Alabama judge convicting Rosa Parks for sitting in the front of the bus (the old “the law is the law and we cannot stray from it” approach that has sustained too many injustices to recount here), Judge Maranger offered up Hassan Diab as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of good relations with the French government. While washing his hands of any responsibility for this decision, he attempted to temper the view of him as a rubber stamp by stating that although he believes that the case was weak, “it matters not that I hold this view. The law is clear that in such circumstances a committal order is mandated.”

But Maranager’s bold statement is not backed up by the facts or the law, and contradicts the quotation he borrows from the Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, who wrote in the leading extradition case: “I take it as axiomatic that a person could not be committed for trial for an offence in Canada if the evidence is so manifestly unreliable that it would be unsafe to rest a verdict upon it. It follows that if a judge on an extradition hearing concludes that the evidence is manifestly unreliable, the judge should not order extradition.”

Hence, Maranger on the one hand says there is a strong likelihood that the French, in a fair trial, would not secure a conviction given a fair trial – and there is clearly no guarantee of a fair French trial for Dr. Diab – but on the other, draws a conclusion that is completely opposite to a higher court judge’s direction in extradition cases. If the case for “manifest unreliability” is that a conviction would likely not be registered, it is difficult to understand how Maranger can say that the case against Dr. Diab – which he admits is too weak for a conviction – is not manifestly unreliable.

In addition, as Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, pointed out subsequent to the ruling, if the case had been heard in British Columbia, Diab would be a free man today, for their courts rule differently than Ontario courts on extradition cases.

“The British Columbia Court of Appeal decided there ought not to be an extradition if that is the nature of the extradition case, so Dr. Diab today would be walking a free man in Vancouver had this case been conducted there and in Ontario he is behind bars,” Bayne said. “That is a situation that is simply untenable in Canada, that Canadians are subjected to totally different standards depending on where they live. I would suspect that would attract the attention of the Supreme Court of Canada.”

While some have asked why Dr. Diab doesn’t simply throw in the towel and go to France and “sort out the mess,” the answer is simple: France has been criticized by the international community and is currently before the European Court of Human Rights for violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the fair trial right –for running terrorist trials based on secret, anonymous intelligence.” In addition, why should someone give up their life in Canada and risk spending years fighting in another country, especially given the slipshod "case" against them?
The Diab case is a wake-up call for everyone in Canada, for the ease with which an everyday regular life can be disrupted by such a case is frightening. While Dr. Diab is launching an appeal that could very well go to the Supreme Court, he and his partner, Rania Tfaily, have a long struggle ahead of them.

Individuals concerned about the ease with which basic human rights can so suddenly disappear in these cases can get involved on many levels:


1. Write to the Minister of Justice, Robert Nicholson, and urge him to stop Dr. Diab's extradition. Email:

2. Help ease the huge financial burden carried by Hassan and Rania. We are seeking 100 individuals who can pledge $20 or more a month for the rest of the year to help pay the cost of the GPS monitoring. If you are willing to be a proud supporter of Hassan's right not to be subject to detention if he cannot afford the cost of state surveillance, please email us at OR visit

3. Sign the statement "A Shock to Our Conscience and an Affront to Liberty" (located at

To sign, simply send an email to letting us know that you wish to sign

4. Help organize an event in your community about Hassan's case and the extradition law.

5. Post details about the injustices in Hassan's case on your facebook or myspace

6. Write to newspapers and to journalists about Hassan's case and the unfairness of Canada's extradition law

More info: Justice for Hassan Diab committee
(report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada,