Twelve Bloor St. arts institutions form new ‘Culture Corridor’

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Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 11:07pm

With a dozen arts organizations packed into a single mile, the stretch of Bloor St. W. between Bathurst and Bay Sts. is being officially branded the Bloor Street Culture Corridor.

Heather Kelly, a spokesperson for the Royal Conservatory of Music and the founder of the initiative, said the idea was sparked when speaking with her musical counterparts at the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Alliance Française de Toronto.

“We’re already working together on a one-on-one basis,” Kelly said. “I just came up with the idea that we create this multi-organization partnership to draw people to the neighbourhood and help people realize how easy it is to go from one of our organizations to the other.”

The 12 cultural institutions collectively span French, Japanese, Italian and aboriginal languages and encompass a wide range of visual art and music, including three museums: the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner and the Bata Shoe Museum.

In time, Kelly said, she hopes the Culture Corridor will rise to the stature of New York’s Museum Mile or Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles.

“We suddenly realized that it’s quite a collection of cultural organizations here and that maybe we should be letting the public know that, hey, we’re all here in the same region,” said Bruce Hutchinson, the marketing director of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, one of the participating organizations.

The corridor, which bridges the Annex, University of Toronto and Yorkville neighbourhoods, is still in its initial stages, with an official launch planned for April 2. The stretch will be promoted on social media, with dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“We thought we’d begin by letting each other’s audiences know that we’re all here,” Hutchinson said.

Although details are not yet final, Kelly said over the summer the corridor’s organizations hope to participate in events such as the Annex Festival on Bloor. And come the fall, Kelly anticipates a seasonal promotional package such as a digital passport to encourage patrons to visit all 12 institutions.

Other organizations can join, Kelly said, provided they meet the criteria of presenting professional-level arts and culture to the public in a year-round venue. Local restaurants and retailers will also be recognized, Kelly said.

“The whole idea of this is inclusivity,” Kelly said. “We’re part of an ecosystem; we’re part of a neighbourhood.”

The designation is a long time coming, according to George Fallis, a professor of urban issues at York University who advocated the idea of a Bloor St. cultural precinct 12 years ago.

“It’s an important development for the city to recognize this concentration. And it’s a wonderful area of the city. So I think it’s nice to see it finally coming to fruition,” Fallis said.

For more information visit the Bloor Street Culture Corridor website.