By Susan O'Neill Posted October 6, 2009, 12:45 PM EDT
Thousands of people took to the streets from sunset Saturday until sunrise Sunday to take part in the fourth annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche—the City of Toronto’s all-night contemporary art festival. This year’s event saw more audience participation than ever before with interactive art projects offering the chance for the public to get in on the action. “That’s one of the pieces that makes Nuit Blanche so magical—the interactive portion,” said Miki Stricker-Talbot, a programming supervisor with the city.
At the Toronto Coach Terminal, about 400 people seized the opportunity to stand blindfolded inside a steel cage where 20 professional wrestlers participated in Shaun El C. Leonardo’s “Battle Royal.” At Brookfield Place, 750 people volunteered to be suspended in cloth sacks from the building’s rafters at part of the California-based Center for Tactical Magic’s multimedia installation “Witches’ Cradles.”
The “Wild Ride” midway in the financial district attracted crowds who lined up for two carnival rides meant to reflect the ups and downs experienced in the recent economic crisis. Members of the public also had the chance to share rations served around fire barrels in Liberty Village as part of Toronto artist Tom Dean’s “Fire and Sausage” installation. They could crawl under swaths of a red velvet dress created for Japanese artist Norico Sunayama’s “A Sultry World” and had the chance to spray paint the Ryerson School of Management at Bay and Dundas streets with lasers.
“It's only fitting that an event created through such collaboration would also engage the public as participants in so many ways,” Mayor David Miller said in a Twitter post. “Scotiabank Nuit Blanche belongs to all of us and is created by all of us as we come together to celebrate art.”
To improve access this year, event organizers attempted to place projects closer together, extended T.T.C. service on several routes, and closed a number of main streets to traffic. Organizers also hired Toronto street vendors, including those recently selected to participate in the city’s A La Carte program, to serve food throughout the event. “We certainly have taken feedback from people from the past three years to improve our event,” Stricker-Talbot said. “It’s easier to navigate this year.”
Interactive tools including the Night Navigator iPhone/BlackBerry app and the My Night itinerary planner were also launched this year. According to the city's special events department, more than 16,500 people had downloaded and used the mobile app by sunrise and a further 10,500 created personal itineraries online.
More than 500 artists and curators, 500 volunteers, and 24 sponsors participated in this year’s event, which included 46 commissioned projects and 85 independent works in three zones throughout the city. A number of additional neighbourhoods, including Yorkville, West Queen West, Cabbagetown, and the Distillery District, also organized Nuit Blanche-related events.
The fifth edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is scheduled for October 2, 2010.