Archive for June, 2007

Canscene, Vol. 7, No 6, June 2007

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Luminato debuts

Friday, June 1st, 2007


(Canscene) — By the time you read this, Luminto, Toronto’s festival of arts and creativity will be in full swing.

Recently I had the good fortune to meet the two Toronto men whose ideas and persistence over the past four years have led to the start of Luminato, the massive festival of arts and creativity that begins June first.

Tony Gagliano and David Pecaut, co-founders of the festival attended a conference for the ethnic media and introduced us to Janice Price, the CEO and Chris Lorway, vice-president of programming.

These two Canadians left important positions in the United States to come here to get things organized and what an array of events and talents they’ve arranged as you’ll find out by checking the website at

Hosting the media conference was Toronto restaurateur Roberto Martella an ardent enthusiast of cultural events, in whose establishment, Grano, many of the planning meetings were held.

So although Luminato events and performances originate in many other parts of the world beside Canada, the inspiration for Luminato is purely Canadian. So please, I beg you, when anyone tries to tell you Canadians are dull dogs incapable of generating ideas — point to Stratford, point to the Shaw Festival and point to Luminato.

As I’ve noted, there are many free events at this massive undertaking, June 1 to 10, and the most spectacular of these is likely to to be Carnivalissima which closes Luminato with a three-day exposure to the world’s greatest carnivals.

Here, listed in full are the carnivals, all scheduled for Toronto/s Harbourfront area locations.

Carnivalissima Highlights!
Friday, June 8


Shades of Brown: a conference with a difference

Friday, June 1st, 2007

(Canscene) –The upcoming conference Shades of Brown: Challenges, Myths and Promises offers educators at all levels an excellent opportunity for learning and reflection. According to the organizers, the conference, which will be hosted by York University between 8 and 12 July 2007, is the first international conference of its kind in North America.The conference deals with South Asian issues with a focus on education and organized by educators, students and the community. Internationally renowned South Asian professionals from all walks of life as well as other North American educators will present. While primarily focusing on education, the conference will offer an inter-disciplinary approach including the arts, business, teacher federations, journalism, film production, and health.

The conference will offer a variety of workshops for teachers to assist them in developing engaging practices that integrate aspects of South Asian history, culture, art, and values into pedagogy, curriculum and leadership. Mainstream educators will have the opportunity to obtain relevant information and resources and learn from first-hand experiences of South Asian professionals, teachers and students. and discuss issues of identity.

. Recent statistics from Statistics Canada and other sources indicate that South Asians are the second largest visible minority group in Canada and one of the fastest growing, and half of Canada’s South Asians will be living in the Toronto greater area.

For more information about the conference and registration please see

In his own dreamland

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Book review
Dreamland, by Roy Rempel
Breakout Educational Network, 180 pages

(Canscene) The curious reasoning of neo-cons is well exhibited in Roy Rempel’s book Dreamland, a runner-up in the recently held Donner Foundation annual book awards.

Its subtitle intrigued me: How Canada’s pretend foreign policy has undermined sovereignty. I requested a review copy. (more…)

As time flies by

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Canscene) — Last month, a friend of mine in TV news assignment received an invitation to an event six minutes before it was due to happen some 35 minutes drive (on good traffic days) away from her Toronto TV station.

I ask you, was the so-called public relations consultant who issued the invitation responsible, or was the client, in this case a major Canadian bank, out to gain favourable media coverage for a charitable donation to an agency working on diversity matters? (more…)

Beware of “green” overkill

Friday, June 1st, 2007

(Canscene) –Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog’s hit song It’s Not Easy Bein’ Grreen is now contradicted by the ease with which we’re all thinking green and trying to be green to help rescue a threatened environment.

It’s literally amazing the way advertisers and their agencies, public institutions, educational groups, and above all youngsters have got behind the green idea, but there are some cases where overkill is spoiling the effect.

Take he case of The Bay’s downtown Toronto store. Quite laudably, they’ve installed green awnings over all their show windows. But then they’ve suspended tatty looking branches of fake green foliage which cheapens the whole look.

And therein lies a word of caution. Let’s not make a fashion fad of all this. It’s not just another slogan affair like “Think Pink.” It’s concern for our very survival, a concern for the environment that mustn’t be allowed to grow old and stale. And that’s going to be the next challenge we face, to stick to what we’ve come to believe in.

Reel world’s Winter Tale beats “reality” TV

Friday, June 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — The Reel World Film Festival in April opened with a gala performance of the made in Canada film A Winter Tale. It won the award for best Canadian feature
at the festival which included films from a number of countries.

It’s the work of British -born, Trinidad raised Frances-Anne Solomon whose experience embraces award winning feature films and television productions for the BBC.

Leonie Forbes, Jamaica’s “first lady of film” won the festival’s award of excellence for her telling performance as Miss G, the proprietor of a small restaurant in Toronto’s Parkdale district, where the entire tale is set during bleak winter time.

After a ten-year-old boy is shot by a stray bullet a social worker tries to form a black men’s support group seeking a witness to the crime. But it’s an uphill struggle against fear of retribution from neighbourhood, drug dealing gangs is portrayed

A Winter Tale offers a searching perspective on the timely issues of gun violence, set against the backdrop of a Caribbean community’s hopes and tribulations. The film, although fictional is directed and filmed with a documentary-like sense of realism. It reminds one how shallow are the “reality” TV shows when art can imitate life in such a telling fashion.

At present, I can’t tell you where this moving film might be shown theatrically, but please watch out for A Winter Tale.

First season in new home breaks COC records

Friday, June 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — Of the Big Three permanent cultural Toronto attractions, the first – past -the- post official opening June 10 last year of the Canadian Opera Company’s new home proved a landmark in Ontario’s cultural scene.

The COC has announced a record breaking opera season with an average attendance of 99 percent.

The COC has also broken another record by already surpassing last season’s subscription totals with gross revenue of over $9.5 million and over 93,000 seats sold to date for the 2007/08 season with 25 percent still available for public sale.

With its first season in its new home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the COC had a historic year by mounting Richard Wagner’s tetralogy the Ring Cycle plus six mainstage productions: Così fan tutte, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Faust, Luisa Miller, Elektra, and La Traviata. In total, 137,000 patrons attended 67 COC performances including the Ring Cycle. Overall ticket related revenues grossed close to $18 million.

This inaugural year was brought to a successful close with 11 performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s popular La Traviata, eight performances of Richard Strauss’s drama Elektra and 10 performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Over 59,000 people attended the three spring productions generating combined gross ticket sales of over $5.6 million, while La Traviata achieved a first day of sale record of $250,000. This season also saw 8,000 $20 tickets sold, with 7,500 of them sold to patrons under 30.

The last word

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Cansceene) — the following is excerpted from an article in The Munk Centre Monitor by Steven Bernstein, acting director Centre for International Studies at the Munk

In Ottawa these days one popular  line of thinking is that Canada is in Afghanistan to regain its international standing and prove its mettle. Taking back its traditional leadership on climate change would do even more for Canada, have  better chance of success, and is more likely to be remembered for generations to come.