Toronto’s cultural scene is vibrant!!
I moved to Toronto somewhat reluctantly a few years ago in order to study at the University of Toronto. Despite my reservations about moving to the big stale city (this is a viewpoint shared by many Westerners!), I’ve found nothing but great experiences, wonderful people and a vibrant cultural scene here.
Let me tell you why culture in Toronto is booming… The opinion in general seems to be that the bigger the city, the less personal the cultural experience that one can enjoy there. In Toronto, from my perspective, because there are more events to choose from, it is simply more likely that you will find something that suits your taste. There are also multiple organizations working on similar projects, which means that if you like, say, contemporary opera, you can find it in several places in Toronto, and at a variety of price points (which for students is important!). Tapestry New Opera Works, Queen of Puddings Theatre, Soundstreams, and occasionally the Canadian Opera Company all perform contemporary works, for example.
The young energy in the cultural scene seems to be somewhat unique in Toronto as well. In other Canadian cities (I won’t name names…) culture is driven primarily by an older elite crowd, whereas in Toronto there seem to be platforms for young innovators to share their ideas and talents. There are young jazz groups, improv groups, theatre companies, sound art installations, and an impressive number of talented stand-up comedians and open-mike artists in the city. The biggies are also going strong– the ROM’s new crystal architecture is a must-see (even from the outside! though their exhibits are fantastic), and the new AGO is supposed to be fabulous (I have yet to get there). The Toronto Symphony is trying out some amazing new programming ideas, with quick after-work concerts aimed at de-stressing the downtown crowd and enabling them to avoid the rush-hour traffic. The Canadian Opera Company, in their new glass-walled and floored-building at Queen and University, is one of the most fantastic acoustic spaces for opera in North America.
If you’re in Toronto to visit, check out the Whole Note Magazine (free, in various spots around the city), or toronto.com for cultural events that might coincide with your stay. Better yet, show up at an open mike/ concert/ gallery/ festival and see some of the city’s best artists in action. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll understand why Toronto is certainly not lacking in cultural vibrancy- spread the word to the West!