Cities in the Time of COVID-19: What Role Will Public Space and Public Art Play in the Recovery?

In partnership with The Bentway. Featuring Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director, The Bentway Conservancy; Guillaume Aniorté, International Development Advisor, Quarter des spectacles; Jing Liu, Co-founder, SO-IL; Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees, artists, Sans façon

5 Key
Takeaways

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. We need artists now more than ever

Public spaces and public art play a crucial role during times of uncertainty. In urban areas, as temperatures have begun to rise, physical distancing measures are being put to the test as residents yearn to be out in shared spaces and for community connection. Within artistic and creative communities, dynamic and collaborative ideas are in abundance.

2. Connectivity is essential 

Many of us have transitioned our personal and professional lives online. The long tail of the pandemic poses questions about how much of the public realm will shift from the physical to the digital. Panelists suggest that the answer is likely a hybrid. But they also noted that the physical urban experience is irreplaceable in many ways, offering incomparable forms of human connection.

3. The next phase of recovery will occur in public space

If we intend to redesign our public spaces to be more resilient, adaptable, and attuned to the new needs of residents, policymakers must incorporate the voices of architects and designers, artists, artisans, and other creatives from the very beginning. The expertise of public space partners is essential to finding new ways to inspire and connect community members during this challenging time.

4. A fertile moment for experimentation

 While this pandemic has bred so much distress, it is also an important moment for designers to redefine the “essential parts” of public space, and reexamine disciplinary intent and the challenges of delivering art, culture, and connection. For architects, for example, the global pause on production creates an opportunity for a broader conversation about the role of architects in contributing to conversations about equity, social practice, and accessibility in the built form.

5. Thinking global and local

While we may not be experiencing these challenges equally, we are all globally connected in a shared experience. We must think at both the local and global level – considering

Full Panel
Transcript

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line. 

Mary W. Rowe [00:00:59] Hi, good morning, everybody, or good afternoon, depending on where you are in the time zone. Oh, there’s my cat making an appearance in over my right shoulder. I’m Mary Rowe. I’m the president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. This is City Talk. We’re very happy that you would join us. And we’re, I think, in our ninth week of producing these discussions – a couple a week. And we’re so fortunate to have people coming from all different aspects of urban life to help us all make sense of what we’re seeing, what is happening to cities in the time of COVID. You know, when we first started these, I think we thought we’d have maybe 30 or 40 people watch. But in fact, we have hundreds that tune in. We posted the videos from these after the fact. We also closed takeaways – sort of five key things that emerged in the conversation. And we also post the chat function, which we’re hoping many participants will actually contribute to. So if you look on your screen, if you’re just signing in, you can become a chatter. And when you chat, we ask you to send all your messages to panelists and everyone because there’s a really rich life that evolves in the chatbox and we’re really happy to have it. And we publish that, too. So. And as a result of these kinds of conversations where as we suggest trying to make sense of things, we’re continuing a really vital conversation about how urban life is evolving in front of our eyes. Basically, these conversations are focused on what we’re actually seeing. We ask practitioners to come and talk to us about what they’re actually seeing on the ground. We try to avoid wild speculation. We’re really interested in grounding our observation of what’s actually going on in urban environments. Canadian Urban Institute is in the connective tissue business. And since COVID we’ve put up some platform, CityWatchCanada and CityShareCanada, both “.ca” and then this one CityTalkCanada.ca. And we have volunteers and partners across the country helping us populate these things. If you’d like to help us, please do. Email us at COVIDresponse@canurb.org. I think we’re having a growing realization that we’re in the long recovery. Urban life may in fact be changed fundamentally. And how do we want to be part of that change? How do we want to inform that? Our broadcasts originate in Toronto, although there are people participating from across the country. And in this case, we have someone coming from the United States for which we’re very appreciative. Toronto is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, and the Chippewa, and the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. And it’s home to many diverse First Nations, you know the Métis from across Turtle Island. Toronto is also covered by Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties, which was signed with multiple Anishinaabeg nations. And we are cognizant always of that, of the ancestry and the history of the lands that we actually occupy. And we’re also conscious that while we’re having these conversations trying to make sense of things, thousands and thousands of Canadian and multiple thousands of Americans are still engaged in frontline work trying to keep people safe, trying to keep people healthy. And we never want these conversations to supplant what continues to have to be a remarkable emergency response, particularly from frontline workers often who are employed by municipal governments. So we always want to acknowledge that. These conversations are, as I suggested, the beginning of a longer conversation. We have to learn as we go. It’s the world’s on a kind of global pilot, and we’re trying to derive as many, many kinds of observations and learnings as we can. And we ask you to contribute to it in the chat, but also on social media, using #CityTalk. The chat function stays open a little bit after the conversation ends and it ends abruptly at the 60 minute mark. I just warn the gang that there’s no chance for us to even pat each other on the back and say, hey, that was great. Or say, what the heck are you thinking? No chance to do that because we, the panelists leave. But you chatters can continue. We’ll keep it open as long as you’ve got something to say to one another. It’s always great for us if when we start these things, that people could just sign in and just tell us where you’re listening from. So if you just do that quickly in the chat and just tell us where you’re signing in from. We have many people that are devoted “city talkers” and continue to come on. But there are lots and lots of new folks that come on each time. And we’re always interested to hear where people are signing in from. So the future of public art and public space – it’s something that a lot of people are wrestling with, folks, and that’s why we’re really appreciative to have you five try to help us understand it and try to help us observe what’s going on. This weekend in Toronto there was a certain kind of manifestation of public space use, which seems to have ignited a pretty spirited conversation about this, about what it symbolizes, all the aspects of the ways in which cities are perhaps not as where amenities are not distributed as equally as one would like. And there are all sorts of complicated issues associated with this. And it manifests in particular kinds of ways at particular kinds of times. And we’ve just gone through that here in Toronto and I bet they heard about it in Brooklyn. So I’m going to start, if I can, with – we always, because we’re polite Canadians, we always go to our visitor first. So I’m going to ask Jing Liu to start us off. Jing, you’re an architect. You’re in Brooklyn. You told me that just earlier that you’re signing in from a neighborhood near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And you, I know are grappling with these issues -have been in your practice. So just talk to us about what you’re seeing, what your perspective is about, the impact of COVID, particularly on design and public space and all the ways in which your practice has been touching on this thing. We’re happy to have you. Tell us something.

Jing Liu [00:06:28] Yes, I think Brooklyn is actually one of the…I mean, particularly in the area that I’m in, which is on the waterfront from Brooklyn. People are still quite out – they’re quite out. And you don’t see the emptying out of the city as might happen in some Upper East Side or Lower East Side in Manhattan. So it does surface the particular thing that we love about Brooklyn, that it’s really for a lot of residents and middle income people who call it home here as a full time residents. And there’s a lot of the younger generation around Brooklyn that are starting to, I guess, after two months of being housebound, starting to be more careful, but still kind of coming out on the street. And now the weather is good. So you do see the street has started to be more activated. I have not seen…I have been trying to have people to think about the outdoor picnic. We tried to do that with our office as well. I think a lot of experimentations are still being carefully weighed and carefully implemented at this moment. I think we are all treading on a very precarious place to try to balance safety and going back to embracing each other’s presence together.

Mary W. Rowe [00:07:57] It’s tricky, isn’t it? I mean, we here, as I suggested it, had a particular episode on the weekend in a park. And it’s particularly a very popular park with a particular sort of category of user, and that’s long before COVID. And then the way it’s been used has been quite provocative. And the antidote to the way – what happened is there was overcrowding, I think, there’s allegedly there was overcrowding and there were questions about whether or not it was the most respectful way to use public space. And one of the ways that people are responding is to show a photograph from a Brooklyn park where the circles have been drawn with chalk. So this was, this is a design intervention that somebody came up with. Do you have any idea how they arrived at that, how they decided to do that, and who was it – the instigator that decided to do that?

Jing Liu [00:08:43] No, I have no, I haven’t looked into the history of that. To be honest. There are a lot of interventions of, you know, just even in stores that as the banners that has six feet apart. So there are many kinds of graphic representation of that six feet. Around the world there are objects that’s designed for the six feet apart. And, you know, in China, they design hats for them.

Mary W. Rowe [00:09:11] Yeah, there have been zany versions. You know, there’s been pool…what are those things called? Pool…you know, those Styrofoam things, that people wear those. And can I just encourage people to chat to direct your comments to all panelists and attendees? Thank you. Pool noodles. Thank you, Irena. “All panelists” in any case when all see it. But I want to come back to you, Jing, because I think obviously design is a critical part of this. And we want to think about how public art is going to – maybe public art is going to be the answer to how we actually get back to navigating shared use. There. There’s my optimistic provocation to see if you folks are going to tell me. Let’s go to the two folks from sunny Calgary. Although it’s hard to tell because you’re both in artificial light. But we’ve got both Guillaume and Tristan joining us from Calgary. And I think I’m gonna start with Tristan to talk a little bit about about your perspective, the work that you’ve been doing prior to COVID. But how does it inform how you’re observing what’s going on through COVID?

Tristan Surtees [00:10:08] I just want to – Charles is my colleague, not Guillaume. At the moment!

Mary W. Rowe [00:10:12] Oh, I’m sorry. Sorry. Sorry. That’s totally my mistake. And I was I was more attracted to the to the alignment on the Zoom. Well, I’m not going to blame Zoom. It’s me. Correct. Charles and Tristan. Thank you. Calgary. Guillaume, don’t take it personally, OK?

Guillaume Aniorté [00:10:29] Oh no it’s okay, don’t worry.

Tristan Surtees [00:10:32] It’s, uh. It’s very strange in that, as social practice artists, we spend most of our time with people, about people, in places with people, learning about places. And that’s completely stopped. Not only that – Charles and I, we’ve been working together for nearly 20 years. I spend more time with him than I do with my partner. And we haven’t been in the same space for nine, ten weeks since we came back from the UK. So –

Mary W. Rowe [00:10:59] How are you coping?

Tristan Surtees [00:11:02] I’m coping incredibly well. I rather like it.

Mary W. Rowe [00:11:05] Don’t take that personally, Charles.

Charles Blanc [00:11:08] Oh, quite happy as well. For the moment.

Tristan Surtees [00:11:13] But I do think there’s – I think there’s something in, you know, we were on a meeting with a colleague not long ago and he said, please, can you put on your picture? I’m a missing face contact. I need to see the picture. And I think there is something there. And that there’s a – you’re seeing a real shared appetite. Like never before has the entire world really gone through a very similar experience of understanding what public realm is or knowing – having a shared absence, having something that they feel that haven’t got. So when I talked to my grandmother, it’s the same experience I’m having here, and she’s five thousand kilometers away. So that’s I think that’s really quite interesting. And it’s interesting that the value or the appetites that it draws up into various different people. And I’m seeing that artists are just adapting and moving those public realms, those social spaces, on to other platforms. It doesn’t fulfill the needs. But I think artists are quite generally agile, and designers and architects and say, yes, this is the moment. How do we respond to this social context? And look forward to how we shape public realms or what are the new things that we really value rather than maybe entertainment and commerce. But what’s the substance of that? So we’re working through those, remotely from each other, and also continuing – we spent eight, ten hours a day sat on these kind of meetings working with people. And it doesn’t feel the same, but you’d keep going.

Mary W. Rowe [00:12:56] Mhm. Charles, do you want to add anything to that?

Charles Blanc [00:13:00] Not lots. Yeah. It’s quite strange to be physically distant but at the same time, it feels like we’ve never had so many meetings with people from all over the place. And it’s, in a strange way, there’s a stronger closeness that’s happening that you can find through the new public space – those remote meetings and discussions that happen across the world where you can suddenly have a project that you set up with someone in Edinburgh and someone in Laramie and someone in Calgary, that happens much faster than it could really have happened before. Even a closeness with people in the street when you go for a walk and there’s much more acknowledgments of our commonalities somehow.

Tristan Surtees [00:13:52] Yeah. It’s, a wave of a wave means so much more. Like you’re hungry for it. That eye contact with the person on the side of the street is a meaningful experience because you don’t have many of them.

Mary W. Rowe [00:14:06] Mhm. You know, tomorrow, we have the Mayor of Saskatoon joining us, Charlie Clark. And we’re obviously trying to encourage Canadians to learn about other cities, which is what the Canadian Urban Institute needs to be about. And we were talking about how can we provide a context for why Saskatoon’s important? It’s important for all sorts of things. But of course, it was the birthplace of Joni Mitchell, who, of course, wrote the famous song Big Yellow Taxi, which has that unbelievably provocative line: “Doesn’t always seem to go. But you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, which we’re going to play before we have Mayor Clark on tomorrow. And that, just as you’re suggesting, maybe be of interest then, but things that we took for granted, obviously, in terms of interaction, now, we can’t do it. So even if you get a little bit of it. Even, as you say, a physical gesture to acknowledge the other person is is so important. It’s interesting, isn’t it? OK. Let’s go to you. Finally Guillaume, I’m going to come to you and then and then Ilana, I’ll come to you at the end because we go to Toronto to at the end. But Guillaume, you’re in Montreal, you’re near Champ de Mars Parc. I know, talk to us about your perspective on this as you’ve been navigating COVID in your own practice and how that affects it.

Guillaume Aniorté [00:15:15] So I don’t know if you are familiar with the Quartier des spectacles, but it’s in the very heart of Montreal and especially during summer time, it’s a place to be with tons of events, festivals…Quebec and the people from everywhere is coming so during summer, it’s a place to be. A lot of people. And suddenly with the craziness, nothing happens. You know, everything has been cancelled, postponed. So we’ve been from a place where thousands of people to a place of only few people coming in. And so disabilitization of that is to force us to reinvent and to see how we going to animate the public spaces now, but also time to take the time to reassess how we should involve artists, creators, mutual partners in the animation of such open spaces. And that’s quite a big challenge for us now. It’s a little bit difficult to predict what the future will be regarding public spaces, cities. But we’re gonna have some quite interesting queues now as we see the space, as we never saw that during summer – during winter time we can imagine these less events, but now there’s no cars in the street. People are staying in their home, sometimes even afraid to take the public transportation. So we’re trying to see how we can make those big space being a meeting place again, not only a place for passage, but to see that as an open destination. We have to recreate a destination. Which is interesting also, we can see the people re-appropriate those spaces, you know, where in a manner they never did before. So for us, it’s very important to play this game and to see how we can give a certain place of nature, the quality of environment and how we can green the space. So this is a big challenge and also a challenge because this is a cultural space to be in, the Quartier des spectacles. So we are now to think how we can move and replicate the culture in open and public spaces and seeking with more light, agile events such as the guitar solo on a bench, public reading, street art performance. But everyday to keep in mind that we have to be compliant with certain very constraints and measure of constraints.

Mary W. Rowe [00:17:52] You’re raising – all of your raising such interesting questions about space, place, art, artists, public. And each of you, I’m going to go now to Ilana who’s at the Beltway, each of you, I think, has been engaged in work that has been, I think, manifesting in shared outdoor public space, particularly looking here about the Beltway. I should just say that the film reel, a little slide reel that you saw that I was watching intently, which caused me delay coming on this at the beginning – we’ll run it again at the end of the day, at the end of the show, and we’ll put up on the chat function that link, so you can see that. And that’s examples of work that this group has done, not together, but they’ve each put up. And so, Ilana, talk to us about the Bentway,which is in Toronto. And is a piece of adaptive reuse under a much, much debated expressway in Toronto. And you have literally occupied underneath it. As Guillaume said, you’ve appropriated that space and created something quite magical. And that’s now the question is, how is it going to get used? So fill us in on on how you at the Bentway are viewing this.

Ilana Altman [00:19:00] Well, I think that public space and the Bentway I think, have been continuing to play an essential role in the past several months. We’re located in the heart of several vertical communities, dense vertical communities. We’ve seen Toronto’s waterfront change dramatically over the last two decades. They’re moving away from industrial lands to new high-rise developments. And I think our last estimate put about 100,000 people that live within a five to ten minute walk of the Bentway site. People who are living in small quarters and are really in need of those public spaces for for respite, for reprieve. So the site – even though our facilities have closed – it’s remained fairly active with dog walkers, people exercising, families out there, as well as people who are looking for shelter and public resources in a different sort of way. We’ve been, I’ve been very grateful that we’ve been able to play that continued role during this challenged time. But I think this next phase of our recovery will occur in public space. I mean, we are already seeing the challenges that are preventing themselves, where a lot of our institutional partners behind closed doors…you know, as we start to think about how commercial life is going to return, how cultural life is going to return. I think it’s going to primarily be in public space over the next several months to two to a year.

Mary W. Rowe [00:20:25] Hey Ilana, when you say public, are you saying outdoor?

Ilana Altman [00:20:29] Outdoor. Yeah. Outdoor public space.

Mary W. Rowe [00:20:32] Not indoor public space.

Ilana Altman [00:20:33] Yeah, yeah. I think that’s that’s what that’s what we’re hearing. And to borrow from you Mary, you’ve said time and time again that this virus is an accelerant. And so both the good and the bad, we’re seeing things escalate and and happen at a more rapid pace. And I would say that, you know, the last several years we’ve seen we’ve seen a practice of culture moving into nontraditional faces, which is what everybody here on the panel does so well. A lot of people looking to connect with audiences in new ways to have direct engagement with the city. And I think the opportunity to do that now is just accelerated in a really exciting and interesting way. So I think the thing that I am most nervous about is that we will wait to decide about our recovery and then ask artists to engage in that process so that they’ll be left feeling that their only – I should say artists and designers – to respond. And they’ll feel like their only way forward is to critique the decisions that have been made. And I think this is the time when we need to inject those creative voices into decisions about our recovery in public space. And so I think I think public art is absolutely essential at this point in time.

Mary W. Rowe [00:21:50] You just launched a new thing – do you want to just describe it?

Ilana Altman [00:21:54] Yeah. And we you know, unfortunately, like so many others, we were ramping up an amazing season of programming on site. Jing was one of the designers that we were collaborating on that, and had to shelve those plans, put them on hold, to postpone them until we’re able to gather safely again. And as we started to think as a programing entity, what we could do, what surfaced is that we needed to reaffirm our commitment to the public realm. Moving fully to the digital space didn’t feel right to us. So we started looking for opportunities beyond the site proper and recognized that there was a lot of opportunity in traditional advertising forms, digital billboards, wayfinding, presentation spaces that were in the public realm that could meet people where they are, and still have great visibility. Very quickly, and a huge testament to our team and our fantastic partners, like Cossette and Whitman Emorson, and the media partners came on board, we put together a project called “It’s All Right Now” in record time. Already we’ve got about, close to 30 artists involved and they’ve created textual responses to a prompt that we put forward: “What words are you living by right now?” And our our intention was we wanted to make sure that the sentiments that we were seeing in public space reflected the diversity of experiences that are taking place. You know we’ve seen so many messages of hope and togetherness and those are so important, but they’re very singular. And so we asked a number of artists that we work with, including writers, playwrights, visual artists, to talk about what their experience is like and how they would how they would capture that in words. And so that’s launched over the last couple days on digital billboards and roaming video tracks. And going to be a while posting it across the city.

Mary W. Rowe [00:23:47] What’s the website reference? Because Emily will put it in the chat.

Ilana Altman [00:23:51] ItsAllRightNow.ca. It felt like a very – it felt like a fantastic exercise for our own team to be able to do something productive and creative. But I’m I’m really happy that the artists who have participated have also shared that for them, it’s been a cathartic exercise.

Mary W. Rowe [00:24:11] So, you know, as I said, I’m so happy to have you guys on because these are all such profound topics. And when we were first talking, when we were first, I think most of us, when we were first engaged in this, we were assuming that we’d be locked down for a period of time and then it would be lifted and we’d all go back to normal. So we were all talking about, well, during this time, how can we cope? But now I feel we have to even change the title of the series because it’s the time of COVID is not likely to be limited. It’s just going to be our future. And is this is this the public realm now? This – what we’re doing? And what do we do about the fact that there are lots and lots of people who do not have access to the digital public realm? When when you were suggesting Ilana, the future is in the outdoors, I felt every librarian – their heart break. What’s gonna happen to libraries, you know? And what’s happening to indoor public space, etc.. But is this the new public space?  Can we can we appropriate the digital sphere and make it “the public realm”? Guillaume, you’re a digital guy. I know.

Guillaume Aniorté [00:25:17] Yeah, I’m sure that that is going to be playing a big role. And to move certain events from the realm to the digital world. But I think the people, and we see that strongly now, people wants to reconnect again. They need to be altogether.

Mary W. Rowe [00:25:33]  Physically? Physically they want be –

Guillaume Aniorté [00:25:39] Physically. And the way we just ambition to do to regain the public art is to make the people coming back, it’s as Ilana said, while working very closely with the artist community, creative community to think hard together about the solution. How we would make those condition again, happen again with with the public – which is very important. And we’re feeling it – if you’re going outside, we see tons of people in the garden, the parks playing together, chatting together. So we have to be very careful on the way we just go into this. But we have to rethink how are we gonna engage and connect again with the people. I think everything won’t be online on a digital or on a de-materialism way, but also to to go back to the to the public space. And that’s the reason why in the plan we have now, we are following very closely the deconfinement measures. So we have planned three steps. The first one is about when – we cannot reopen businesses and we cannot authorizing people gathering. But at least we are walking on greening spaces, put some picnic table, make fountains working again. People just can come have a peaceful relaxing environment. The second step will be much more interesting. How we can provide something kind of programmation content in respect with a constraint and the measures of deconfinement? Meaning we can authorize a limited number of people coming together. For sure we cannot have indoor events. And that’s the moment where the contribution and the ideas coming from the cultural and artistic community is very helpful. They are the creators. We just offer the space to play with, but they are the creators. And so we set up two types of collaboration initiatives, one with the local institution – controlled institution into the Quartier des spectacles, and we have time to think about what we can provide outside as in relative to their respected form of arts but in a very light mode. Small circus activities, small dance, small singing performance outside. But we want them to think about that and how they can remain connected to the audience. And the second initiative is to work with creators and artists to say, can you think about something we can give to the public, but with very, very specific constraints that we have to be in respect with during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mary W. Rowe [00:28:33] Just Guillaume, give people a sense of perspective of the Quartier. I’ve been there and I’ve given there at different seasons. How many city blocks is it? I don’t know of people who haven’t been to Montreal, don’t you realize it’s a vast thing -.

Guillaume Aniorté [00:28:44]  It’s one square kilometer. So you can imagine it’s like, I don’t know how many blocks, but it’s like  four or five. But we have eight open – it’s combined of eight open spaces of different size. It’s a great open area. So there’s just a huge event space for everybody.

Mary W. Rowe [00:29:11] Yeah. It’s it is spectacular and true to its name. And it’s been…the good thing, we were suggesting one of the things is if you were if you were equipped well before – that neighborhoods that were equipped well before COVID and had amenities have been able to respond more quickly. Places that didn’t have a Quartier des spectacles are kind of less able to be as resilient. You know, each of you have assets that you’re working with and it’s fortunate if you have them and you’re going to do better. And I’m wondering just to you, Jing, in New York City, you know, the epicenter of this catastrophe globally and extraordinary challenges that the five boroughs have experienced. Are you thinking about the design interventions or the art interventions that can continue to get traction? You know, we sort of recognize that nobody has an answer right now. And I’m wondering if this is an opportunity for artists, designers, crafts artisans – Tristan gave us a list there of all the categories – is this a moment for your gang to infiltrate and say we’ve got some solutions? Is that already happening in New York?

Jing Liu [00:30:18] Yeah, I think that definitely that because a lot of projects have already got canceled – institutional and the kind of investment projects in this region. So that means that there’s a lot of  challenges and time, you know. And also the era, it’s not so bad that I think in the last 10, 15 years that the profession of architecture has being really caught up in the wail of the production, you know, because the economy was going well and everyone was investing, you know, things to be built and produced without too much thought and intentionality. And I think within our own discipline, we have been quite already critical of that momentum or critical of that, that the wheel that’s turning too fast and without thinking too much. So I think it wants to due time and for our community to actually feel that, okay, now it’s time for us to really think about what we want to do and what we want to say and address the problems that’s been compounding for a long time. And we were just too busy to address that. And I think that a lot of the public equalities, accessibilities to the public space, public amenities and to the maintenance issue of public space, all of that is not new topics. I think it’s been in the discussion for a long time. And I think it just accelerates, you know, everyone’s attention to that at this moment. What would come out of it? We don’t know because it’s a monumental existential shift shift at this moment. Right. [00:31:58]So I don’t think any of us can pretend that we know the solution and that there are multiple strands of discussions like climate issues and, you know, social equity issues and, you know, not prefacing production, but prefacing more kind of a social practice issues. [18.3s] There are so many strands that we don’t really know how they kind of can help each other and reinforce each other in our effort moving forward. But I think it’s it’s a fertile moment for experimentation. And maybe going back to what your previous question about the digital versus the physical. And from our point of view, in our practice, I think if, you know, 12 years ago when we started, we already advocated and Ilana knows this pretty well because we’ve been talking about this project that we were trying to bring to Bentway, which is a project we did 10 years ago. We had the feeling that it’s not very helpful to talk about the divide between the digital and the physical. At the end of the day, we have to think about how do we want to be together as human beings and the digital systems and experience to do certain things better than the physical – because it’s faster, because it’s again, you know, let’s say the distance, you know, in physical distance is not as important, and it can be overcome quite easily through the digital systems – but in the physical space, there is still so much information that’s coded, not coded, just the information that’s transmitted knowingly or unknowingly through physical interactions. Like, you wave at somewhere six feet apart and that person is smiling or that person is in the shade versus the sun. Right. There’s just so much kind of tactile, experiential qualities that’s, you know, even unknowingly transmitted between human beings, that’s just cannot be replaced as a digital experience. Now, you don’t know what’s up. What’s the space around me? How it smells. And you know how you know, the sound I’m hearing versus the sound that you’re hearing through Zoom is very different.

Mary W. Rowe [00:34:14] But the flip is I actually have access to your interior space, which I wouldn’t normally because we would be meeting an an exterior space. So there are trade –

Jing Liu [00:34:24] Exactly. I think that the divide to kind of saying that when digital…are we going to only live in the digital or only live in the physical? Which one’s better is and maybe not a helpful discussion. And the question – maybe it’s more like last century discussion. I think it’s more about the hybrid. You know, we have to think – it’s probably more productive to discuss how do we want to interact with each other together. You know, as architects, we work with material and objects, but we also work with systems and environment. And I truly believe that we need to talk more about the environment. We need to talk more about the systems in a time like this, especially in the public realm, and less focusing on the objects and the material, because that’s at the end of the day. You know what I was talking about – you know, like all of that seems to be too much coming from the individual and that we’re still operating in kind of a defensive mode. But if we’re talking about, OK, drawing the circles – can that circle be melted together? Can that circle be, you know, can that line be, you know, with some safety measure and, you know, be trespassed? And how would that trespass… the place of negotiation and how…

Mary W. Rowe [00:35:44] Guillaume do you want to respond?  OK. Guillaume and then Charles.

Guillaume Aniorté [00:35:54]  Rather than being digital versus physical, how can we bring digital into physical space, meaning that we can use video projection of your sounds. And those effects are amazing to create something special for the people in the audience. And so we kind of benefit from such technologies. And I see that interesting remarks on the chat, which I think instead of shaming people for using parks we should provide them with technologic solutions. And that’s exactly what we need to do when with providing that special urban furniture, street and arts performances, because we can use that in order to make a specific path in order to avoid having too many people in the same place at the same moment. We all know that people need to be together. They need to go back to the open spaces and the big spaces but how can we use specific, and this small event to create a kind of dispensation between the people. Right. I mean, everybody in the same place looking for some specific events, but saying like, okay, let’s make a street dance performance. But going through the street and then you provide a kind of experience where the people are not all together but, you know, in a distancing mode. So, yes, we can have creative idea to get the people coming back using public space, but also to not be on on the others.

Mary W. Rowe [00:37:25] You know, we’re going to go to Charles and then Tristan. But you know it’s a fundamental question about whether artists and people that are thinking smartly like you guys are, are part of the decision-making process in the first place. And how can you insert yourselves or are you tired of putting your hand up saying, how about me? Do policymakers, at which we have a number on the chat, need to be much more intentional about recruiting your expertise and your interest in your engagement in this? So let’s go to Charles and then Tristan. Go ahead.

Charles Blanc [00:37:54] Yeah, I think that’s that’s a very good point that Ilana was mentioning as well, the importance of arts now. You know, it’s looking at arts as not initially as simply displaying of performing art, but also as way of thinking about places and spaces – that artists are a completely valid participant in all these discussions, as Guillaume said. There’s a way, an agility of thinking and responding, not necessarily finding solutions, but maybe finding all of the questions that haven’t been raised. Having artists being part of this is questioning and experimenting – create things that haven’t been necessarily thought about.

Tristan Surtees [00:38:38] And it’s interesting. A time where experiments are happening much faster than they ever been happened before.

Mary W. Rowe [00:38:48] Because I’ve COVID. Yeah.

Charles Blanc [00:38:49] Yeah. Like in you have whole streets that are blocked off to traffic within days, which changes completely the way people relates to public space, because you now have those public spaces in areas that didn’t initially have amenities before and people are relating to this differently. So I think it’s it’s a time of opportunity that we should really try to have all creatives be part of the experimentation.

Mary W. Rowe [00:39:18] You know, this is it. This is a time-honored conversation. I see Brad Vassa engaging here about data. You know, part of the dilemma is that artists are tired of having to provide their own justification. Shouldn’t – should not other policy makers actually be doing the measurement? And then and then artists who actually have time to create art. Go ahead, Tristan.

Tristan Surtees [00:39:37] I think there’s – your early question is, where is this public realm, and the truth is we don’t know. None of us know. We are carving and shaping that future together now. And artists are really good at that. And I think back to we were we established a program in the City of Calgary, called Watershed Plus – embedded artists in the city’s water department.

Mary W. Rowe [00:39:59] What was it called?

Tristan Surtees [00:40:00] Watershed Plus.

Mary W. Rowe [00:40:01] Water – is there is there a domain name that they can put up in the chat?

Tristan Surtees [00:40:05] Yes, there is, definitely. Watershed Plus. So it embedded artists within the work of the utility. And we had a flood here in Calgary in 2013. 100,000 people were displaced from their homes. And although scale wise, it’s it’s incomparable to what’s going on now. One of the head strategists just passed us in the cafeteria and said he’d been he’d been dealing with this flood for a week. He hadn’t slept. He hadn’t looked after himself, hadn’t seen his family and he came past. He said, we need artists now more than ever. And I think that’s – it’s partly to help digest and process what’s taking place to us. It’s partly also to help explore and and tackle the real questions, not just entertainers or pacifiers or give us solace, but also to help us find new solutions and new ways of being together. Exploring public realms of all kinds together. It’s something well, you know, this – Canada the U.S – we have an army of people that think in in very different ways. And what we need to implement them. So, you know, there’s a quote that came that’s, I think, misquoted to Winston Churchill in the Second World War, which is he was asked, “Well, why aren’t we cutting theaters and why we aren’t we cutting museums and things?” And he said, “Well, if we do that, why what we’re fighting for.” And I don’t think is a real quote, but I wish it was because I think that’s right. So I think as governments, we can institute new models of working which draw artists to the heart of some of the big challenges and questions. And we’ve done it. We’ve done it with the water department. I think it’s very possible through organizations, Guillaume and Jing and Ilana, those organizations need to be empowered to bring artists in to assistance in defining what social life is, what public realm can be. And exploring with the public, rather than just provide answers.

Mary W. Rowe [00:42:07] So I want to go to Ilana because she’s stewarding at a hybrid. I love the hybrid term. I know artists love hybridization. I’ve never understood it, but I’m trying to learn. Ilana, the Bentway is a public asset. But it was actually privately initiated, right. And it’s a.. It’s you somehow been able to find the magic sauce to get a whole bunch of folks to invest in that project. Do you see that is as instructive the way forward? And it was also it was it was a space that a lot of people wouldn’t have known could be art, right?

Ilana Altman [00:42:39] Yeah, I mean, I think that we have to be thinking about joint agency right now. We’ve had to think about it for a long time. But for me, that’s one of the greatest learnings from the Beltway, which is that there’s no single entity that has responsibility for our public space. And as you know, as we continue to see debates play out in the city about the importance of the social contract to each other and personal responsibility, it comes down to that idea about joint agency. I mean, that’s – if COVID has proven anything, it is that that we are only going to get through this if we choose to care for each other and respect each other and respect the spaces that we share. But I just want to comment on what Tristan and Charles were we’re talking about – the Watershed Plus I think was such a fantastic initiative, which I know Tristan and Charles were the first artists in residence there and really shaped the program and shifted it in very powerful ways. But I think that way of thinking about moving away from product-driven responses and giving artists the opportunity to work and think without the responsibility of creating something, creating an object is really important right now. And…

Mary W. Rowe [00:43:54] Does that connect to what Jing was suggesting about systems? We have to create interventions that are more than, as you suggest, an object.

Ilana Altman [00:44:04] Yeah. And I don’t think in any case, we can do it alone. And the key here is that we’re coming together as interdisciplinary teams to think through problems. And, you know, any design of public space, even as you know, as we start to think about public art projects, we need that public health perspective. We need the social services perspective. We need the artist perspective. We need the designer perspective. I think that’s the way forward. And we’ve proven that we can do it and we can do it at rapid speed when we have to. So that needs to become the new model moving forward.

Mary W. Rowe [00:44:36] So the irony here is that I think you’re all talking about the importance of place. That things are grounded in “place” and how critical it seems to be to our psyche to have some attachment to place, and here we are talking virtually about place. It’s a curious thing. Jing, I want to come back to you. You talked about, very interesting to me to hear you suggest that the previous decade was preoccupied with production. And now you’re – now we’re in a new jumbled up state. So artists are very familiar with scarcity and when I hear you speaking, I’m old and it reminds me of how I felt when the 80s ended. The 80s to me, we’re just so fast, so busy. Everybody was making money. It was busy, busy, busy. Then the 90s, there was this dip. And then out of the 90s came some really profound shifts and important things. Do you think? Do you think we’re gonna be at an inflection point where we’re gonna be able to recast these relationships that people are implying around decision making, resource allocation, how artists created, how art – a lot of people in the chat wanting know how arts to be supported. Can you see hints of that?

Jing Liu [00:45:40] Yeah, I think it’s interesting when you talk about the 70s and 80s and 90s and 2000 in that way. We have to also recognize that that in every cultural realm or every country and the geographic locations, that those cultural developments you’re referring to are very different. For example, I grew up in China in 80s and I experienced a completely different psyche than, you know, I would say like the Western world could experience the 80s and 90s and, you know, 2000s. And I think that this is the first moment, maybe in history where we see the entire world experiencing something together. You know, that that, yes, everyone experiences it differently and we are noticing that, you know, the people who are suffering one after another, natural disasters in India versus, you know, me in the epicenter in Brooklyn, but still somehow like surviving and working behind Zoom is very different. Right. But we are all inevitably tied. We understand, you know, within one system globally, which is the first time, may being history that we have this. And I think that the scale is monumental of how do we grapple – the scale of this kind of globally tied-together experience. And, you know, we are seeing a lot of… Obviously people running away from it and trying to fortify our own existence, sort of say, but I do feel that that this is the moment that we have to…I mean, the the issue or the problem and the question is too big to run away. It’s just going to prolong it. You know, it’s just going to drag it on and it’s still going to come back and catch up on us.

Mary W. Rowe [00:47:33] So can I ask you a specific comment, a question about your neighborhood? You know, we’re localists. CUI has just launched a big thing called Bring Back Main Street. We’re concerned about how do we actually support local supply chains? How do we actually support local, local places and the quality of places? And and how will the pandemic enable us to really double down on that? You’re very close to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. New York has been really intentional about investing in local manufacturing capacity and the relationship between designers and manufacturers, small scale manufacturers. And they did it by creating taking a public, publicly held asset and investing in it so that small manufacturers and designers and artists could colocate. Do you see this – and, Brooklyn, of course, is now synonymous with local everything…you’ve become the desire place – I love that Guillaume – you’re the desire place for lots of people. Do you think we can build on that? You’ve been doing it.

Jing Liu [00:48:30]  I think we have to both work on the local and the global together. I don’t think that we can just only work in our neighborhood. I mean, what’s great about the city and a neighborhood like Brooklyn? I mean, with it, even in our own communities, there is such a big divide between the people who have the resources and access to public resources versus not. So I think in that in that regard, you know, working locally and really trying to, you know, help the people that’s just  down the street, it’s very important. You know, that’s also try to work out how we want to be together as human beings.

Mary W. Rowe [00:49:11] Does that make it smaller? Because you were saying it’s such a big question. I mean, I worry about that, too. It’s just big.

Jing Liu [00:49:16] No, I think, you know, the question is big, but it’s a scalable right? I think it can it, it’s at the scale of the community but we also should not forget the scale of the entire earth. And I think working with the same habits together. Right. Like just to care for someone and other people who don’t have the same resources and the same experiences and understand that that different experience, both on the scale of the street and the scale of the earth.

Mary W. Rowe [00:49:46]  I mean, this is one of the advantages of the digital half. I appreciate you folks saying, “Let’s not make it a dichotomous conversation. Let’s make it an integrated understanding of the digital and the public realm together.” But one of the best benefits we do have this digital realm is that we can see what’s going on in other places. We can have these kinds of conversations, as limited as they are. Can I just hear – we’re going to around the corner here. First of all, yes, the chat gets published. So everybody will know that. I should always warn that. Just remember, if you write something in the chat, it stays in the chat. It ain’t like Vegas. So everybody will see it. So you have to check it but lots of panelist – chatters asking, will it be public? It will. As you go looking forward to your practice, folks, if you imagine the next six, eight months we’ve heard about what the Quartier is doing. Maybe I can hear what what the thinking is in Calgary about what what you what you’re going to be prioritizing in your practice over the next half year into 2021? Thoughts on that?

Tristan Surtees [00:50:43] We were asked by curated eight weeks ago. We just got back from the UK from working there. And his question to us was, “So your social practice artists. What are you doing about this?” And our reaction was, this is all new – we have no idea. It kept sort of chipping away at us – we produced, and one of the images shown was an online project -an expansion of a project online – which was live every day for a week. Cool stories from here based on individual memories that come through another end of the project in Laramie, Kansas City, and here in Calgary with people – developed with people. So it was a way of kind of exploring that question ourselves. What what is a social practice in this situation? It was also how can we bring those people, bring people together into a moment of kind of exploration and discovery themselves into other places and other relationships and have some of that contact you have when you have a face to face and you tell stories around a fire or a dinner table. So I think there’s a continuation of that work – of “what is it” and “how do we do these things”. But at the same time. It’s an adaptation of projects that we’re doing in the Middle East or in Scotland or in the U.S. They move forward, they continue, and we will evolve them in slightly different ways. And we’ve just taken a new project on, here in in Alberta. And the first step we would usually do is to go out and meet people in that place and start to…And it’s very difficult to do that when you don’t know who you want to find. You know, it’s you have to reinvent your process. I think that’s quite healthy for people generally. And I hope that we come we come through the next few months redefining the real essential parts of things, whether that’s in the public realm. We can get rid of some of the fluff and get to the essence of it, because we’ve all had the same shared experience. And I think that’s the same in art practice – in the process. We cut out the unnecessaries and we dive into the things that are really essential and pursue them as the real line of inquiry.

Mary W. Rowe [00:53:06] I am interested – both you and enjoying. You’re making this point that it’s not about the products, it’s about a process. And the idea that, even though you’re locally placed based on your work, it has this global connection that we are having a universal experience of some kind in – varying degrees, of course. Yeah. What about Guillaume? The plans in Montreal and how your practice is going? you’re about to go through a really extraordinary set of months of experiments, right? Can’t hear you Guillaume, you’re muted. There we go.

Guillaume Aniorté [00:53:39] Oh yes, and you’re right. And I totally agree with what you say about the collaboration process. I think it’s crucial to everybody at the same table, whether it’s virtual or physical. But, and I think we can drive the ideas thanks to the sharing of best practices and and what we can see out there I mean, on local destination, but by putting together all the good ideas and in the sense that artistic and creative community is so helpful. And we see them very differently, as you mention previously, when they’re not the people we just provided with specific installation of projects based on the call for project process. But it’s also people who have some good ideas and we can be astonished by those ideas. And I will just share on the chat a very good paper about the future of public space – I put the button now. And you will see how a creative company –  a small creative company can say, “Hey, take a look around and there are so huge ideas you can put in place” and we have the believe about that. But the other thing is not only collaborating with local people, but we have to remain open to the international ideas. I mean, we have to not to hide behind our boundaries, even if the temptation is big to protect tourists as a sense. But we have to work with the foreign people, we have to welcome foreign ideas and we have to remain open to the rest of the world. It’s very, very important.

Mary W. Rowe [00:55:15] I’m really struck by that, we actually have a universal condition. Some people would argue that climate change was that, but it was manifesting in such different scales and ways, right? Ilana, thoughts on how you’re going to be focusing your efforts over the next six or eight months.

Ilana Altman [00:55:31] I think that we – we’re really focused on how we can continue to be a public resource in this time of social distancing. And I think being very careful as we enter this next phase about what it means to run a acceptable and inclusive space in a time when there are control measures in place. I think we want to we want to challenge that and confront that while respecting health and safety guidelines. So thinking about, you know, how the Bentway can serve as a giant patio to local businesses and neighborhoods…how we can continue to work alongside our creative partners to support experiments. I mean, I’ve always been a big believer in practical urbanism – that it’s not enough just to hypothesize, that you need to test. And I think that’s true more than ever. And I think we’re very lucky that we have a demonstration site where we can do that. And then we’re much like, It’s All Right Now, we’re also thinking about where the work is is needed, where people are going to have access to it and how we might branch off beyond the Beltway site to continue to ensure that public art is present and a big part of this discussion going forward.

Mary W. Rowe [00:56:40] I can’t believe we’ve almost got to the whole session and not one of you has used the other term, other than “hybrid”, which I know others would use. And isn’t the other one, “intersectionality”? So I feel like each of you is engaged in enabling intersectionality. Some of you really tangibly. And we’re in this massive intersection of public, private and public safety, artistic expression, commercial life, private life. It’s just a rich time where I’m very appreciative of having people like you to help us navigate through it. Charles, last word for you.

Charles Blanc [00:57:17] Tristan said a lot of the things we’re saying – that we’re thinking about in the future. And I think it’s really encouraging to see all the people on this panel having the similar attitude and wanting to work together to find new ways of understanding what we all value. Suddenly that, our situation put a spotlight on what’s important for all of us and how do we get together instead of simply how we will consume space? And I think that’s something that is very optimistic in a strange way.

Mary W. Rowe [00:57:53] Yeah, I was going to say that it feels quite hopeful to me. Jing, do you have a last thing to offer to us from Brooklyn?

Jing Liu [00:57:59] You know, I think, you know, again, I think within the art, artistic, creative communities, I think the ideas and attitude are all very promising and a very vibrant and very what seems to can be very productive in this time. I do think that that maybe to Ilana’s point of how do how do policymakers and the politics to a certain extent pivot towards that. And that shared positive vision that we all feel with our community – it’s the biggest challenge. Because, I mean, yes, you know, in America, the election is coming up and that makes –

Mary W. Rowe [00:58:42] We’ve heard that!

Jing Liu [00:58:42] That makes everything much more complicated. And you’re just wondering if that was not there, things could be much more simpler. And we can all work towards something together.

Mary W. Rowe [00:58:55] I mean, the thing is that you’re all in the discourse business. You know, you’re creating provocations and discourse in in a place, in a space and even even in different forms of democracies – in ones that are highly engaged, some that are functioning well, some that aren’t. All the polarization that we’re aware of – it’s the organizations and initiatives like what you folks you’re advancing, which give us some hope and some capacity to be able to try to parse through in this extraordinary collective experience and experiment of living with COVID. So thank you very much for joining us and providing all these insights. Lots of very thoughtful things that you’ve offered, which is why we keep them in the archive so people can go back and read again. What was that, that that person said? Lots of, such provocative things that you’ve put forward. So thanks, gang. And just before Premier Kenney sends me a private message to remind me that actually Joni Mitchell was born in Alberta but moved to Saskatoon, just saying. Fortunately, one of our producers brought this to my attention to remind me, not true – she’s not from Saskatoon, but she was in Saskatoon! Perhaps Saskatoon inspired “Big Yellow Taxi”, and that’s all we’re talking about tomorrow with the Mayor of Saskatoon. So join us at midday Eastern to hear what’s going on in that place and the – all the things that these folks have been touching on are part of a mayor’s everyday life about how they deal with competing uses and sustainable livelihoods and providing opportunities because urbanism is for everyone. Thanks very much for joining us. Guillaume, Charles, Tristan, Jing and Ilana – really great to have you. Thanks. Thanks, listeners.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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12:02:43          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

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12:04:32          From Abby S to All panelists: Saying hello to wonderful CUI folks *(I will change my settings) and panelists! Here with bells on.

12:05:31          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:05:55          From Shadi Adab to All panelists: Toronto

12:05:56          From Kirsten Frankish to All panelists: Hello from the City of Oshawa!

12:06:02          From Kellie Grant to All panelists: Saskatoon

12:06:02          From Alex C: Toronto

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12:06:03          From Liz Hoffman: Liz Hoffman from City of Saskatoon

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12:06:05          From Ranon Soans: Listening from Edmonton

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12:06:07          From Jayden Koop: Kelowna, BC

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12:06:14          From Lisa Shkut to All panelists: Lisa/Planning Dep’t/Town of Whitby

12:06:14          From Leo Doyle to All panelists: Social cohesion in urban spaces and between urban, rural and more remote citizens benefits greatly from sports and arts and culture. What do we need to do to retain and support this space? from Ottawa

12:06:14          From Catherine Soplet: Hi, Catherine here, Building Up Our Neighbourhoods based in Mississauga, in the Region of Peel.

12:06:14          From Devon Tatton to All panelists: Victoria bc

12:06:14          From Felipe Canavera: Edmonton, AB

12:06:15          From Eva Ing to All panelists: |Hello from Toronto, ON

12:06:15          From Ivette Arroyo to All panelists: Greetings from Lun, Sweden!

12:06:15          From Auriane Simonian: From Montréal, QC:)

12:06:15          From Debra Rolfe: Hello from Vancouver!

12:06:16          From Cathy Masterson to All panelists: Hi from Windsor!

12:06:18          From Bronwyn Neufeld: Listening from Edmonton:)

12:06:18          From Caitlin Ottenbreit: Victoria, BC!:)

12:06:18          From Lorne cappe: terrific Toronto

12:06:19          From Rebecca Garlick: Listening from Kitchener, ON

12:06:19          From Brad Bass: Good afternoon from Brad in Mississauga ON

12:06:19          From Robert Matas: vancouver

12:06:20          From Sophie Jeffrey: Hello from the Isle of Wight, England

12:06:21          From Chloe Catan to All panelists: Chloe Catan, Public Art Waterfront Toronto

12:06:21          From Colleen Ivits to All panelists: Wasaga Beach

12:06:22          From Celia Smith to All panelists: Hey everyone. From Toronto.

12:06:22          From Pip Bradford: Toronto!

12:06:22          From Cora Larkins to All panelists: Toronto

12:06:22          From Laura Tinslay: Hi from Guelph!

12:06:22          From Desi S to All panelists: Toronto

12:06:23          From Stephen Corr: Hi from Markham

12:06:26          From Jennifer Rowan to All panelists: Hi from Victoria

12:06:26          From Julie Black: Good morning from Calgary.

12:06:28          From Jerrica Gilbert to All panelists: hello from Sault Ste Marie!

12:06:28          From Blaire Prima: Saskatoon, SK

12:06:30          From Rachel Lee to All panelists: hello from Edmonton!

12:06:30          From Nicole Neufeld to All panelists: Hello from Guelph!

12:06:31          From Gillian Rowan to All panelists: Hello from Victoria!

12:06:33          From Becca Mayers to All panelists: From Waterloo!

12:06:34          From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:06:38          From Jamie MacLellan: Hello from Halifax

12:06:38          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:

Guillaume Aniorté

https://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/fr/

Jing Liu

http://so-il.org

Tristan Surtees & Charles Blanc

https://www.sansfacon.org

Ilana Altman

12:06:41          From Maureen Luoma: Hello from Downtown Sudbury!

12:06:41          From Candice Chan: Hello from City of Toronto – CityPlace (downtown)!

12:06:42          From Oscar Espinosa to All panelists: Ottawa

12:06:43          From Julie DuPont to All panelists: Julie DuPont, Public Art Prog, City of Ottawa

12:06:52          From Christine Newbold: Hello from Hamilton!

12:06:55          From Jane Perdue to All panelists: Lara Tarlo, City of Toronto

12:06:56          From Kim Breland to All panelists: Hello from Kim in Toronto – artist producer of the Figment Festival of interactive & participatory art in Toronto’s Dufferin Grove Park (in our 8th year)

12:07:03          From Robert Eisenstat to All panelists: Rob Eisenstat, Chief Architect of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey- connecting from Brooklyn

12:07:12          From Eunan Quinn: Hello from Letterkenny, Ireland

12:07:14          From nicole forbes to All panelists: Greetings from Westmount (Montreal)

12:07:16          From Catherine McLeod: Hello from Halton Hills

12:07:16          From Bridget MacIntosh: Bridget MacIntosh @bridgetannmac Toronto!

12:07:19          From Stuart Keeler to All panelists: bonjour hello from niagara region

12:07:24          From Ciara McKeown to All panelists: Hello from Calgary

12:07:27          From Ida Højgaard: Hello from Copenhagen, DK

12:07:33          From Sara Udow: Hello! Sara from PROCESS, cultural planner working on Toronto’s Year of Public Art:)

12:07:38          From Sara Udow: Hi @bridget!

12:07:40          From Lisa Shkut: Lisa/Planning Dept./Town of Whitby

12:07:43          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please access images for today’s webinar here:

https://www.canurb.org/public-space-gallery

12:07:47          From Tracy Tang: Hello from Burlington, ON!

12:08:00          From Mark Mycyk to All panelists: Attending from Wellington County, Ontario

12:08:00          From Jane Perdue to All panelists: hello all Jane Perdue from Toronto

12:08:06          From Sue Ann Laking to All panelists: Hello from Mississauga!

12:08:08          From Hannah Miller: Hello from Toronto

12:08:09          From Bridget MacIntosh: Hi @saraudow!:)

12:08:19          From Jacqueline Soczka to All panelists: hello from Orillia Ontario

12:08:36          From Ivette Arroyo: Ivette Arroyo/Housing Development & Management/Lund University/Sweden

12:09:00          From Amr Merdan to All panelists: From Amr Merdan to All panelists and attendees,

12:09:01          From Jane Perdue: hello attendees – Jane Perdue from Toronto

12:09:25          From Philippa French to All panelists: Hi from Mississauga! Philippa from the City’s public art team here

12:09:25          From Amr Merdan to All panelists: Amr Merdan from Mississauga,

12:09:52          From Abby S: They are no adding those circles to Toronto parks

12:09:58          From Stuart Keeler to All panelists: it was dan francisco

12:10:18          From Irena Kohn: pool noodles

12:10:20          From Abby S: Noodles

12:10:21          From Kim Breland to All panelists: pool noodles

12:10:23          From Colleen Ivits to All panelists: Pool noodles

12:10:37          From Philippa French: Hi from Mississauga! Philippa from the City’s public art team here

 

12:10:41          From Abby S: *now (not no)

12:11:02          From shelley tsolakis: Mississauga is not adding circles but introducing parks ambassadors to help educate and influence behaviours

12:11:55          From Ciara McKeown to All panelists: Hi all, @ciaramckeown, public art consultant from Calgary

12:12:39          From Mojan Jianfar: So many familiar names here – Hi Philippa, Sarah and Bridget! (and others!)

12:13:44          From Stuart Keeler to All panelists: define public space in terms of the pandemic and limitations?

12:13:48          From Sara Udow: Hi @Mojan and @Philippa! Nice to see you on here:) Excited to hear about Mississauga soon!

12:14:02          From Carl Novikoff to All panelists: Hi all! – Carl Novikoff from Toronto

12:14:12          From Erika Hennebury to All panelists: Hi friends!

12:14:26          From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:14:34          From Brad Bass: Philippa, I am on Mississauga’s EAC. Looking forward to connecting with your team.

12:14:47          From Erika Hennebury: Hi friends!

12:14:54          From Bridget MacIntosh: Agreed @mojan (hello!) Fantastic. Thanks CUI for bringing together such a great panel.

12:14:58          From Carl Novikoff: Hi all! – Carl Novikoff from Toronto

12:15:28          From Toby Greenbaum to All panelists: Hello from very humid Ottawa!

12:15:28          From Catherine Soplet: Meetings now are more intentional and intense, because we are not as able to read body language and facial cues.

 

WEbinars are in many ways unidirectional, so not able to request people to repeat their statement or interject to get clarification on information.

12:15:55          From Sara Udow: Hi @Erika! Curious to learn more about what TAC is doing soon!:)

12:15:58          From Jonathan Giggs: from Port Credit in Mississauga

12:16:53          From Robert Matas: zoom land is privatizing discussions that were previously in the public realm. the digital divide is excluding a lot of people from events and discussions

12:18:06          From Becca Mayers to All panelists: Great comment from Robert. This is especially true when public libraries are closed, which are popular spaces for access to to technology and internet.

12:19:33          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please access images for today’s webinar here:

https://www.canurb.org/public-space-gallery

12:19:58          From Brad Bass: Like vibrant streetscapes, the loss of public space is a direct loss of socio-economic welfare that can be measured. It is this measurement that we can use to move policy from different levels of government. It is this measure that can help build the argument that public space is an essential infrastructure component of our economy. Fortunately, it can be measured in dollars.

12:20:48          From Jerrica Gilbert to All panelists: Interesting point Brad

12:23:55          From susan wright to All panelists: Agree Ilana – and artists can play a key role in building public trust in venturing out and engaging with others in public space

12:24:17          From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:24:20          From Tracy Tang: As an artist (who is also a planner), many of us as artists are developing and sharing art in different ways and using different spaces both private and public – front windows, balconies, yards, driveways, sidewalks, roads, trails, sharing online, producing exhibitions shared via mail and other delivery systems. The work may be more ephemeral right now and depending on the space may actually be reaching more people. Are there any other ideas the panelists may have on how artists can connect their art with the public at these levels?

12:24:49          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: itsallrightnow.ca

12:25:13          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: https://www.itsallrightnow.ca

12:25:35          From susan wright: Resending to all: Agree Ilana – and artists can play a key role in building public trust in venturing out and engaging with others in public space

 

12:27:40          From Jennifer Roth: I don’t view online as a public realm at all… never would have even considered this.

12:28:22          From Jerrica Gilbert to All panelists: I wonder if there is something to be said here on the cultural erosion of the divide between public and private space. How do we locate digital space between the two spheres?

12:29:28          From Leigh Stickle: Given the expectation that gatherings will have to be smaller, more atomized, more decentralized, they will require more careful planning and organizing… this is where online realm will be crucial

12:29:58          From Caitlin Ottenbreit: I’m interested in the collapsing of private and public spaces – if online is our primary public space, yet we’re interacting with it in our private spaces, what does that mean for the ways we interact with and understand art and public presence?

12:31:04          From Dina Graser to All panelists: The nature of the audience experience – the sense of communality that usually accompanies a crowd – will also be very different and interest, both for the audiences themselves and the performers.

12:31:13          From Robert McKaye to All panelists: Do libraries need to be indoors? Artistic and design thinking has the chance to challenge and rethink some of the typologies and models of spaces that we take for granted.

12:31:20          From Dina Graser: The nature of the audience experience – the sense of communality that usually accompanies a crowd – will also be very different and interest, both for the audiences themselves and the performers.

 

12:31:27          From Leigh Stickle: Not to mention the fact that ‘public’ online space is almost always presented/experienced through a privatised filter or frame

12:31:32          From Robert McKaye: Do libraries need to be indoors? Artistic and design thinking has the chance to challenge and rethink some of the typologies and models of spaces that we take for granted.

 

12:31:55          From Jennifer Roth: I think a physical space should be easily interpreted for the user to follow physical distancing measures.

12:32:21          From Natasha Apollonova to All panelists: Instead of shaming people for using parks (thinking last weekend’s situation with one of the parks in Toronto), how likely are we to use technology solutions for our cities in Canada to help guide people towards an appropriate use?

12:32:33          From Reza Nik: how about the selection process? how are artists chosen for public art projects? how exclusive is it? and how can we improve the process In Toronto, it seems like a small exclusive group of artists…..

12:33:06          From Abby S: In a cold weather climate…it is harder to enjoy outdoor public spaces throughout the year. Will we be consigned to public art events only in temperate weather?

12:33:32          From Kirsten Frankish to All panelists: Lots of libraries have already been revisioning how to serve their communities, including accessing resources from home and being able to offer items and services outside the traditional library items of books, films, music, etc. I think there will be a continued growth and shift in this area as additional needs and expectations are identified to support communities.

12:33:40          From Ciara McKeown: Ciara here – I think collapsing public and private needs critical consideration, given issues of privacy, intellectual property, how do the artists get paid not co-opted?

12:33:41          From Abby S: Especially for elderly who have always supported arts (traditional settings).

12:33:52          From Lisa Shkut: see Winnipeg in the winter-amazing public art events that are staged outdoors!

12:34:16          From Abby S: Yes, Winnipeg does a remarkable job…

12:34:51          From Abby S: Smiling is hard to see under masks, which is really a challenge.

12:36:24          From Louis Conway to All panelists: Perhaps there will be an intersection of the digital realm with public space in the form of an ‘augmented reality’ space.

12:37:50          From Susan Chin: How might we work more closely with policymakers and other stakeholders to reinvent public? or should this be more on a tactical guerilla basis?

12:37:56          From Brad Bass: We do have a formalized way to reconcile opposite into a solution that is not a compromise, nor just a straightforward combination. It is the method of Integrative Thinking developed by Roger Martin, the former Dean of the Rotman School (University of Toronto). I am going to pilot this method to find that resolution between completely digital and completely in person for running my student modeling program.

12:38:01          From Toby Greenbaum: Montreal did a great job on their 350 birthday using digital projections and apps for sound all over Old Montreal.

12:38:31          From Leigh Stickle: I think Guillaume hit on something really important- how can we assess what people WANT, and then find best way to facilitate. Working with desire not against

12:38:35          From Toby Greenbaum: all to be experienced you walked through Old Montreal.

12:39:30          From Abby S: THe Montreal project was so surprising and delightful…

12:39:43          From Brad Bass: To insert yourselves, provide policymakers with a measure of the loss that we are experiencing. We did this in estimating the loss of welfare due to algal blooms on Lake Erie (see Harmful Algae, July 2019)

12:40:36          From Jerrica Gilbert: I agree @caitlin and @ciara. Digital space does not fall neatly between public nor private realms, and is becoming heavily capitalized by large corporations. How do we navigate these issues as citizens, artists, policy makers?

12:41:05          From Erika Hennebury: sans facon

12:41:11          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: http://www.watershedplus.ca

12:41:11          From Brad Bass: Yes, other people should do the measurement, but it will have to involve artists as well as the rest of us. Policymakers will not do this. It has to be provided to them.

12:41:24          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2ZDPaGg

12:41:28          From Irena Kohn: http://www.watershedplus.com/

12:41:29          From Canadian Urban Institute: http://www.watershedplus.com/

12:42:39          From Sara Udow: Watershedplus was amazing. Hiba Abdallah, a friend and artist, was part of watershed+ and ended up working with Calgary for 7 years and having real input on how to engage with the public about stormwater management. Great work Sans Facon!

12:42:46          From Brad Bass: Why policymakers respond best to a measurement, especially one provided in $, is another theme for discussion and exploration.

12:43:08          From Sara Udow: http://hibaabdallah.com/plus

12:43:11          From Alexis Kane Speer: @tracy The STEPS Initiative (www.stepsinitiative.com) is supporting Canadian artists and community groups to create publicly visible artwork in private spaces. We’d love to hear what you’re up to!

12:44:15          From Tanya Sinclair: Diversity and Inclusion in artist selection is key to create spaces with public art that reflects the varied richness of the community through various lens. I would hope that is part of the selection process. How are Arts & Culture organizations and agencies making this a priority?

12:44:16          From Erika Hennebury: Toronto Arts Council has a new public art program called Animating Toronto Streets https://torontoartscouncil.org/grant-programs/tac-grants/animating-toronto-streets.

12:45:35          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at covidresponse@canurb.org

12:46:52          From Stuart Keeler to All panelists: excellent question and precedent citation

12:48:31          From Dina Graser: Arguably climate change is also a global phenomenon that we are all going through, but this somehow feels more personal.

12:49:05          From Alex C: There is a lot of great info on this chat, is there a way to save this and share with all?

12:49:35          From Desi S to All panelists: You can copy and paste the entire chat if you’d like (if it’s not shared with the group)

12:50:17          From Canadian Urban Institute: Alex, the webinar is recorded and saved with a transcript of the webinar and the chat on our website. It is usually up in about two days.

12:50:23          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2ZDPaGg

12:50:38          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

12:51:03          From Surita Dey to All panelists: Many great ideas/initiatives. Who is financing any such projects?

12:51:51          From Julie DuPont to All panelists: Artists, as right brain creative thinkers, are missing from the multidisciplinary problem solving discussion table. This is an crucial time for creatives to be valued as equals amongst disciplines, working collaboratively on recovery, climate, equity etc..

12:54:11          From Bridget MacIntosh: Some additional research / discussion from “The Journal of Public Space” to complement this discussion about public art / public space. https://www.journalpublicspace.org/index.php/jps/navigationMenu/view/covid-19

12:55:09          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:55:27          From Guillaume Aniorté to Natasha Apollonova and all panelists: Very interesting paper about the future of post-Covid19 public space that I highly recommend https://www.dailytouslesjours.com/fr/projets/living-room-reflections-on-getting-together

12:55:45          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: From Guillaume: Very interesting paper about the future of post-Covid19 public space that I highly recommend https://www.dailytouslesjours.com/fr/projets/living-room-reflections-on-getting-together

12:56:59          From Jeremy Diamond to All panelists: As the head of Myseum of Toronto, a museum without walls who works closely with communities and public spaces, this has been an informative and relevant discussion. Thx to all the panellists!

12:58:22          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: FABULOUS DISCUSSION. THANK YOU MARY.CUI AND SUCH GREAT PANEL

12:58:56          From Brad Bass: What is great is about the Bentway is that sense of experimentation with the meaning of public space. It would be great to start adding wetlands. This has been done in NYC, with above ground wetlands, that are relatively quick and easy to construct.

12:59:18          From Catherine Soplet: Planting trees for climate change research in low tree canopy areas is a way to bring together people of different cultures in common purpose. Join ACER Canada in Bramalea SNAP in October; https://bit.ly/ProjectCrossroads_Profile_Jan-2020

12:59:39          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2ZDPaGg

13:00:06          From Eunan Quinn: Thank you to everyone.

13:00:23          From André Callà: Art can be used to facilitate dialogue with policymakers. Arts and culture can be used as a form of discovery and language creating a loop between policymakers and those most impacted by policy decisions. An example is ProjectHeal program.

13:00:28          From Leigh Stickle: Thanks all

13:00:32          From Toby Greenbaum: great session! thanks

13:00:42          From André Callà: Great session, thank you all!

13:00:47          From Adriana Dossena to All panelists: thank you – great discussion!

13:00:52          From Valerie Powell to All panelists: Thanks form Orillia, and our very small Public Art Committee

13:00:58          From Louis Conway to All panelists: thanks

13:01:02          From Catherine Soplet: Thanks for another great webinar !

13:01:02          From Jerrica Gilbert: Thank you panelists and attendees! Great discussion happening

13:01:06          From Oriana Nanoa: Thank you!

13:01:17          From Ryan Walker: Saskatoon was her HOME:)

13:01:20          From Carl Novikoff: Thanks everyone great webinar!

13:01:21          From Tracy Tang: Thank you, everyone. Great discussion.

13:01:21          From Lisa Shkut: Thanks much! Great discussion!

13:01:23          From Julie DuPont to All panelists: thanks all!

13:01:25          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Tomorrow’s session with Mayor Charlie Clark is actually at 11:30 am!

13:01:35          From MARYAM MOMENI to All panelists: Thank you:)

13:01:41          From Jamie MacLellan: Thanks everyone. Really appreciated the discussion

13:01:47          From Anna Zissou to All panelists: Thank you!

13:01:56          From Sharon Gaum-Kuchar: A most relevant conversation; thankyou so VERY much!

13:01:58          From Naomi Roy to All panelists: Thank you!

13:01:59          From Brad Bass: Enjoyed the discussion and the lively chat.

13:02:09          From Hannah Miller: Thank you panelists and attendees for your thoughts and insights!

13:02:12          From Michelle Warren: Thanks everyone, for your insights and thoughts!:-)

13:02:33          From Irena Kohn: Audio still on CUI!!

13:02:42          From Tristan Surtees to All panelists: your still live Mary

13:02:49          From Irena Kohn: Turn off audio @CUI

13:02:56          From Jane Perdue to All panelists: mary you are on!!

13:03:01          From Tristan Surtees to All panelists: You are all live

13:03:21          From Irena Kohn: @Emily Wall – audio still on!!

13:03:28          From Tracy Tang to All panelists: Please note that the audio is still on!

13:04:10          From Irena Kohn: audio!!!

13:04:48          From Laura Thompson to All panelists: Audio is still on

13:05:17          From Irena Kohn: I think it’s off now.

13:05:27          From Irena Kohn: no, still on!