Now that we have all recovered from our Nuits, it’s time to step back and take stock. When we do we find, much like we did in previous years, that Nuit Blanche is still at the stage of working better as an idea than it does in execution.
It’s the all-night art thing we want to love, and because it is, we’ve compiled some of our thoughts on how to make it better. Some of the members of our crack Team Blanche Slate—Jamie Bradburn, Kaori Furue, Andrew Louis, Steven Michalowicz, Brenda Petroff, Miles Storey, Johnnie Walker—share their thoughts on how to truly make the Nuit Blanche of our dreams.
We would like to see more large-scale installations as the focus of the event, with a requirement that these treat the city as their canvas and directly involve themselves with enhancing, reinterpreting, or transforming elements of Toronto. Someone really needs to step up and take advantage of the opportunity Nuit Blanche provides, get thousands of people involved at once, not just a handful, and make people see the city in a new way. Participants need to think less about a message and more about transforming the environment.
Location, Location, Location
Is Yonge-Dundas Square taking over the mantle of being Toronto’s heart? The throngs there Saturday night seem to suggest so. Unfortunately, anyone who fought through the crowds (and the cars) to get to the plaza arrived to—well, not much. It all added up to a rather underwhelming destination, perhaps even enough to turn people off from attending the Nuit Blanche next year. Organizers should attempt to bring a large-scale art installation to the Square.
Density Is Our Friend
As in past years, there’s the problem of walking long stretches without seeing anything. We found we could go from Yorkville to UofT to Yonge Street to Nathan Phillips to the Bay Street carnival seeing plenty of things that amazed, engaged, and entertained, but then we pretty much had to walk to Trinity-Bellwoods before there was anything to see again. And then there’s Liberty Village, where, once again, some of the coolest stuff of the night could be found—very far away from anywhere else. It’s a wonderful place to use for large-scale public art performance and installation, but it’s completely disconnected from the rest of the event. It would be great if an attempt were made to create an official route connecting all major zone areas, with installations along the whole way.
Even though the Nuit Blanche smartphone app was great for navigating the night, it would have been handy to have more analog directions as well. Maybe at each exhibit next to its description board, there could have been a big blown-up map of the zone along with recommendations on what to see next. That way people could somewhat freely wander from place to place without feeling lost, coming to dead ends, or having to rely on the not-always-accessible online itinerary they’d made earlier.
Still More TTC
A greater involvement on the part of the TTC would have significantly improved the event. From 11 p.m. onwards there were not enough westbound streetcars to accommodate the number of riders. At times, the streetcars were so full they did not stop to pick more people up. In addition, some intersections on Queen Street West were so jammed with pedestrians, streetcar and vehicle traffic was brought to a standstill. Crowds have been an issue since the inception of Nuit Blanche and hopefully the TTC has collected sufficient information to properly plan for next year.