Category Archives: Toronto culture

City funding for Pride Toronto

Mayor says wait until parade’s over to vote on funding
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 18.)

Mayor Rob Ford said the city will wait to see if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in the Pride parade before the city decides whether to fund it. Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.

Mayor Rob Ford is taking a wait and see attitude before deciding if Pride Toronto should receive city funding this year.
For Ford, the funding issue hangs on whether the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in this year’s Pride festival.
If the organization doesn’t participate, then Ford said that Pride Toronto can still get a city grant of about $125,000.
“Last year council agreed if they don’t (participate), they (Pride) will get their money after the parade. That’s what we agreed on,” the mayor said at an April 15 media scrum. “If they (group) does march in the parade (Pride) won’t get their money.”
The city also provides in kind services for police security and clean-up worth around $250,000. The mayor did not know if those city services would be impacted if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid aka QuAIA participates in the parade.
QuAIA issued a statement April 15 announcing that it would not march in the parade, but would instead participate in activities outside the parade. It said now there will be no excuse not to fund Pride.
“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” stated Elle Flanders with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. “By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”

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Casa Loma, Kiwanis and city contract

City staff to report this spring on action on castle’s future
Recommendations will focus on Kiwanis current contract
Possible someone else could manage Casa Loma for city
Kris Scheuer
(Written for the Town Crier March 30.)

Casa Loma. Town Crier file photo.

Will the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma be allowed to continue to run the city-owned icon or will someone else be given keys to the famous castle?
Last July 7, council voted to take steps to terminate the club’s management agreement if a handful of conditions were not met in writing by the end of the month.
Now it’s eight months later and the city’s deadline has come and gone. However, the Town Crier has learned the city and the club have been meeting and city staff will be producing a progress report and recommendations that will come to the city’s Executive Committee in April or May.
“We are working with Kiwanis regarding Casa Loma,” said Michael Williams general manager of Economic Development and Culture, who council charged with creating a dispute resolution process between the two parties.
This progress report will also contain recommendations on what action city council should take regarding its current contract with Kiwanis, which has run the castle since 1937.
Kiwanis’s 2008-signed contract includes an agreement which would see the club fix up the castle’s interior while the city would spend millions on repairing the exterior. But according to last year’s report, Kiwanis has missed a number of agreed upon deadlines.
The city voted to have Kiwanis report back by the end of September 2010 with a financial plan to meet its contract obligations. The city also instructed the deputy city manager’s office to conduct an audit of Casa Loma’s operations and finances.

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Danforth Music Hall turns 90

East York icon opened as a movie house and vaudeville theatre in 1919
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Aug.17 for Town Crier.)

The old Allen's Danforth Theatre is the setting for some of Toronto’s new plays. Photo courtesy of The Music Hall.

Surviving the Depression when many others didn’t is one of the stories the iconic Music Hall on Danforth Ave. has to tell since its opening in 1919.
Ryerson professor of communications and culture, Paul Moore, has some insight into why The Music Hall has weathered the years so well.
At the time Danforth was considered suburbia but was starting to expand on the heels of the Bloor Viaduct that was built in 1918. Continue reading

Seniors paint mural under bridge

Barbara Bunting makes sure plan for the mural she designed is spot on. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Retired art teacher helps brighten up community a second time
By Kris Scheuer 
(Written July 29 for Town Crier.)

For senior Barbara Bunting life, is a blank canvas begging for a splash of colour.
The 89-year-old local resident is leading the charge to paint murals at a pedestrian bridge at Christie and Dupont. And this is not the first time the retired art teacher has coordinated efforts to beautify the area.
Four years ago, about 47 residents, mostly seniors plus some other volunteers and high school students, spent four months painting a sunflower mural that Bunting designed. She and other residents from Christie Gardens are in the process of redoing the sunny image a second time.
The mural was recently destroyed due to the city’s reconstruction of the deteriorating concrete along the pedestrian bridge, said Councillor Joe Mihevc.
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Strike won’t halt wrestling at Ted Reeve Arena

News of Toronto labour unrest hits fans across North America
Temp dump outside arena, but inside pro wrestling event a go

By Kris Scheuer
Wrestling fans across North America are trash-talking Toronto.
News of the city’s labour disruption has travelled south of the border as fans who plan to attend the two-day Death Before Dishonor VII series at Ted Reeve Arena wonder how the strike may affect them.
The event by American promoter Ring of Honor will feature dozens of wrestlers including the Super Smash Brothers and Frankie the Mobster on July 24–25. Also on hand are World Wrestling Entertainment alumni Bret “Hitman” Hart and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for autographs.
News of Toronto’s strike was a hot topic on an online message board for Ring of Honor. Enthusiasts online are wondering if it is worth the trip to Toronto.
But the show will go on fans: operations at Ted Reeve are going on as scheduled. The arena is run by a city-appointed management board and operated by non-unionized staff.
But that doesn’t mean visitors won’t catch a whiff of garbage.
The arena’s parking lot has been converted into one of the city’s temporary mini-dump sites.
Many posters took the opportunity to make fun of the smelly situation online: Continue reading

Free Toronto summer music festivals

International headline artists hit Toronto for Irie, Island Soul, Caribana
Last weekend in July a hot one for must see summer music fests

By Kris Scheuer

It’s June 21, the first day of summer. I don’t want to hurry it along, but I have to tell you about Irie Music Festival a free Reggae and Calypso, Soca fest in Toronto that I have attended since it began eight years ago. It is a very positive vibe and includes headliners that are internationally known. And did I mention it’s Free, people. You won’t regret checking it out (and I in no way make a cent by promoting these events).
I just went to Irie’s website and there’s a great line up for July 30-Aug 3 at Queen’s Park.
There’s Byron Lee’s Dragonaires playing Aug 1 in tribute to their leader who passed on. I have a few CDs from this group and have seen them live a number of times. Very fun and sure to make you dance.
Also highly recommended is Gramps Morgan from the famous group Morgan Heritage, which I have also seen live twice and have almost all their CDs. The music is very danceable but also extremely socially conscious reggae music. You won’t regret going to see them on Aug 2.
And last but certainly not least is Fab 5. They are a Jamaican reggae group that’s been rocking since 1970. But don’t be fooled, they can do everything from old school reggae to music that’s currently on the radio with supreme ease. I saw them for the very first time last summer and have been hoping they would come back again and they are on Aug 3. I have a CD of theirs where they groove on 32 different songs in one continuous live jam and it pumps me up every time.
Highly recommended.
The same busy weekend is the Island Soul festival down at Harbourfront and one of my favs is back this year. He’s a singer I have seen a few times – the famous calypsonian The Mighty Sparrow playing Fri/July 30 scheduled for 9:30 pm. There is a covered stage and bench style seating and standing room for a few hundred. It gets really packed down there so you will want to get there early but don’t expect him to necessarily go on stage on time, but other acts will warm up the stage. Again no cost for the outdoor concert.
Of course, if that’s not enough there’s also the 42nd annual Caribana Parade on Sat Aug 1 down on the Lakeshore. I first attended this event 20 years ago as a young 18 year old when it went up University Ave. In fact, except for a few reggae artists I grew up listening to such as Bob Marley, that first Caribana for me in 1988 was my real introduction to the music from the Caribbean and was especially my first taste of Calypso and Soca, which includes both fun, party tunes and socially conscious songs.
Whether or not this particular music interest you, as much as it does me, my main point is summer festivals really make the city come alive. Enjoy.