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David Miller Makes Largest Individual Donation in Fringe Festival History

David Miller with cast members from The Cage, one of the plays being mounted as part of this year’s Fringe Festival. Photo by Jona Stuart.

This was the week David Miller seemed to publicly embrace a role he has been playing in the minds of many Torontonians for months: as the alternative mayor we wish we still had. After marching to massive applause at last Sunday’s Pride Parade, on Wednesday he also made an appearance at the official opening of the Fringe Festival. He wasn’t just there to show face though—he came with his chequebook. Miller has pledged to match donations made to Fringe’s new “Time and Space Program” (which subsidizes the cost of space rentals for independent theatre companies), up to $10,000.

Whether this resurgence in Miller sightings continues remains to be seen, but it was a welcome moment for Toronto’s theatre community, still smarting from the unexpected lack of government funding for SummerWorks, which many believe is due to a controversial play about terrorism that was mounted during last year’s festival. Miller didn’t shy away from that controversy, either; after commenting on Fringe’s wild and wacky nature, he went on to say: “It also sometimes makes political statements, and in my view the arts should feel free to make political statements and should feel free to say whatever it is they want to.”
Miller has also become a patron of the Fringe, and will be providing counsel and facilitating partnerships with potential new donors and collaborators as Fringe continues its expansion into year-round programming. We spoke with Adam Kirkham, Fringe’s development and communications manager, about this week’s donation, and whether there’s any reason to lament the fact that it is the former rather than current mayor who is playing this role. “We’ve never really had a relationship with the City in a formal way,” he told us (Fringe gets its municipal grants from the arms-length Toronto Arts Council). “David Miller, when he was mayor, was really interested in Fringe as an individual.”
Artists of all kind will be glad for as many demonstrations of support, material and moral, as they can get. With warnings from both the federal and municipal governments that arts organizations may not be able to depend on the public financing they’ve had in previous years, political champions—even retired ones—are becoming both rarer and more valuable.
For complete coverage of the festival, head over to our Fringe page.


  • Pedram Navid

    Remember having a mayor you were proud of?

  • blearghhh

    Dimly, as if it only happened in a dream a long, long time ago.

  • Sachin Hingoo

    Cue the “SO THAT'S WHERE THE GRAVY IS” crowd.

  • Anonymous416

    The gravy is in wealthy peoples' pockets?  Ford already knows that, he is one.


    William Lyon Mackenzie was rather before my time, sadly.

  • Warren Huska
  • Rocker

    You have already met William Lyon Mackenzie…. Rob Ford is his 21st century version. Both railed against high taxes and gravy trains.

  • Rocker

    I also saw David Miller at the Canadian soccer championship where Toronto beat Vancouver and won the Voyageurs Cup. Why wasn't Rob Ford there!??!


    But back then gravy trains had class. They were steam-powered.

  • rich1299

    I didn't figure it would take very long for many Torontonians to miss Miller, however I must admit I thought it'd take at least a year of Ford as mayor but nope, justy what, 7-8 months or so. I was always a big Miller supporter because he's a city builder and he was even willing to do the unpleasant work of adding needed taxes, minor ones at that, to pay for what this city needs to grow and prosper.

    TC would have provided an affordable network of imporved transit across this city and would have done something to help reduce congestion on our streets without costing the city a cent to build. But Ford dumped it in favour of the city spending many billions on an un-needed subway to a low density suburb and burying the entire Eglinton line which will not only deny improved transit throughout the rest of the city and so do little to improve congestion on our roads but which will cost the TTC massively in its operating budget as it now has to pay to maintain not only all those un-needed tunnels and stations but also all those un-needed elevators and escalators greatly increasing the TTC's operating costs, not to mention the massive increase in the the TTC's operating budget from an un-needed subway that only carries the same number of people as the Finch bus route and about the same number as the King streetcar line, both at a tiny fraction its going to cost to move the same number of people on the Sheppard subway.

    I wish McGuinty and Metrolinx had the balls to say no to Ford's “plans” which will end up nearly bankrupting the TTC in Toronto, but perhaps that was Ford's plan all along, to bankrupt the TTC so it could be sold off to private interests. Then again that would probably require more intelligence than Ford is capable of so who knows, maybe Doug is behind it.

  • Patrick_Metzger

    I'm kind of shocked that $10,000 is the largest individual donation ever made.

  • Functionalist

    Mackenzie was an intelligent man with a democratic vision against a group of conservative elites, not some boorish oaf.

  • bdawgz

    A few years ago I saw David Miller at a bar in the high park area.  Not only did he take the time to chat with us, but also did a jager bomb with us.  A true mayor who genuinely cares about the city's citizens.  Mr. Miller…this gay, bike riding artist sure does miss you!

  • John Norton

    Miller actually loved this city, this city had meaning to it. and he was proud to be its leader and citizen. cant say the same for lard mouth