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Volume 27 Issue 8 | July 1 - September 20, 2022

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Final print issue of Volume 27 (259th, count 'em!). You'll see us in print again mid-September. Inside: A seat at one table at April's "Mayors Lunch" TAF Awards; RCM's 6th edition "Celebration Series" of piano music -- more than ODWGs; Classical and beyond at two festivals; two lakeshore venues reborn; our summer "Green Pages" festival directory; record reviews, listening room and more. On stands Tuesday July 5 2022.

On stage: Celebration of

On stage: Celebration of Life Award-winner Dwayne Morgan. To his immediate right, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. “There’s only so much that you can do through zoom and digital means. You need to be there, you need to be in those places, you need to actually be at those community centres or connecting with people at the library.” — Liz Mattimore reflect the communities within Toronto, not just the core downtown. I want to have panelists who are living and working in Scarborough and living and working north of the 401 and who are living and working in Weston, areas that are not necessarily always well reflected even in the nominations themselves.” Each of the panelists selects a shortlist. “We also create space to have conversations about other nominations that are of note that we think need to be discussed. Ultimately, I found all of the panels come to consensus. This year in particular, there was very little dissent among the panelists about who should be the finalists and who should be the recipients.” Who sits around each table? Early on, I had wondered where the Indigenous artists were amongst the finalists for the group of awards being presented at this lunch. Hasanika Mediwake, Program Outreach Coordinator at Toronto Arts Foundation, spoke to this: “When I was doing outreach for these awards, I also included all our contacts we reached out to for the Indigenous Artist Award. And, I made sure to let them know about it and include them in any communications. However, I think the number of Indigenous artists accessing our resources is pretty low across the board. It’s something that we really need to think deeper about. And I’m so grateful to Catherine Tammaro, the Indigenous Arts Program Manager at the Toronto Arts Council – the two organizations work very closely together. She’s giving us opportunities and resources on how to do that better. Rather than just letting people know about this opportunity, we need to really get into the community and build trust, and that’s more of an individual approach.” Catherine Tammaro’s role is similar to that of Liza Mattimore’s in that she coordinates award processes and panels. She informed me that the Indigenous Artist Awards (a new TAF initiative) ceremony was a great success. She approached communities with care and the result was a tremendous celebration. “There was a lot of love in that room.” Nominees, finalists and winners enjoyed a context where they felt that their work was deeply understood. New ways of doing outreach and new types of awards are always in the works. Sometimes the key is changing the name of an existing award, and along with the name change, a change in focus. The Breakthrough Artist Award is a good example. It was formerly called the Emerging Artist Award and it used to have an age restriction, but “there’s nothing in being an early career artist, as that assures that you are also young,” says Mattimore. “It was noted that the age restriction disproportionately impacts women, negatively impacts people of colour and anyone who [is] not earning top dollar.” There are deeper issues, she says: “The problem with the arts is that it represents all of these, the systemic racism and systemic kind of disadvantages that happen in the rest of society in a more visible way. We’ve seen changes in the art [that is] in front of audiences, more than we’ve seen changes happening behind the scenes.” Arts organizations are hugely class-divided, Mattimore says. “In order to be a working artist, you have to come from money. Unfortunately that still prevails. If you’re going to work at it [art], it’s because you don’t have the same stresses of housing, employment and being able to pay for food. We still see that in who’s represented, across arts disciplines, and often also in these awards. Saying that you can be a breakthrough artist at any age helps to try to undermine some of those systemic disadvantages.” Deeper works These awards are important. They are career sustainers and career makers for some. They provide financial support, a sense of legitimacy for others, and they certainly raise an artist’s profile. Also arts awards, unlike grants, are not taxable! And yet, as Mattimore says, “There is work to do. I think there are always ways that we can honour and acknowledge the process that we have and how it works, but also try to find out where we can make things better. Who’s not in the room? How can we get more people to put forward nominations, to feel empowered, to know that they have a voice in our arts community.” These are discussions already underway amongst TAF and TAC panels that are already moving awareness and focus towards such inclusion: for example the Muriel Sherrin Award, another of Toronto Arts Foundation’s initiatives, that oscillates each year between dance and music. Notably in 2021, “even though there was a record number of nominations, there was a conversation among the panellists on who was missing, who was not on this list, who’s not being nominated, and how can we better reach them,” Mattimore says. “I know it’s frustrating for us and frustrating for the Toronto Arts staff because they work really hard to get that information out there.” In the next breath, she provides a possible solution. “I think a big part of it is on us. There’s only so much that you can do through zoom and digital means. You need to be there, you need to be in those places, you need to actually be at those community centres or connecting with people at the library.” Turning the tables Who gets to sit at all the tables that together make up the system is something that needs to continue to change. What will that kind of 10 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

Shelly Grace change begin to look like? For one thing, succession planning, team leads, department heads and organization leaders – the benefactors, as I referred to them earlier – will better reflect the beneficiaries at the round tables in Arcadian Court back in April. Earlier, Mattimore mentioned that when nomination numbers are low, staff reach out personally to former winners to spread the word. Perhaps there is an opportunity to formalize this work further. Perhaps finalists who do not win can be pulled further into the fold as paid cultural ambassadors who can reach out to contacts throughout the year. This would help ensure co-creation and early inclusion in the process. In that way the face of systemic change can look more like musician Jesse Ryan, winner of the Emerging Jazz Artist Award 2020, who now sits on the Foundation’s Board. There continues to be cultural value in coming together whenever we can and under any guise. I don’t usually quote politicians, but this was a good one: “Increasing polarization is resisted via arts and culture. We can disagree and stand together at a concert or performance,” said Mayor John Tory. And, as Dwayne Morgan, winner of the Celebration of Cultural Life Award spoke, I covertly wiped away a tear or two with the edge of a napkin when he let us know that he usually invites his daughter to perform with him and he pays her to do so. This is so that she understands that art is a vocation for which you should be paid. Art, in addition to art for the sake of beauty and expression, also has deep economic value to any culture and must be included as such. The winner of the Arts for Youth Award, the organization Never Gallery Ready focuses on media analysis for young people. They develop a capacity for analysis, to deconstruct and to note what systems are right in front of our eyes and how they are sustained and repeated. This is also art. As Dwayne Morgan said in accepting his Celebration of Cultural Life Award: “You have to build the door that opportunity knocks on.” Meanwhile, however much their systems and processes can be improved, these awards are a crucial affirmation of the power of creativity. They acknowledge and help fund the deep work of artists in the act of building and sustaining our hearts. In the jubilant words of the winner of the Breakthrough Artist Award, Shelly Grace: “Peace, power and poetry. Off.” Gloria Blizzard is a non-fiction writer, poet and penner of songs, whose essays, reviews and articles have appeared in numerous literary publications, magazines and sound recordings, including Poetry Canada Review, cbc.ca, The Globe and Mail, Humber Literary Review and World Literature Today. She is working on her first full-length book of essays. Instagram: @gloriawrites; Twitter: @gloriablizzard thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 11

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