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AGO’s Matthew Teitelbaum joins Toronto’s cultural leaders to offer vision for next mayor of Toronto

As Torontonians prepare to choose a mayor for our city’s future, we must be bold in our expectations and courageous in our hopes. Toronto is a vibrant and diverse city, with much to offer our citizens and our visitors. We have built an enviable international reputation thanks to our people, our businesses and our cultural, sports and social institutions and services. We must now ask ourselves what we collectively want for our city’s future.

Culture is an essential pillar that contributes to the livability, economic vitality and social cohesion of any community. Successive City Councils have recognized this and provided the foundation for a strong and timely investment in arts and culture in 2013 and 2014. Toronto City Council’s leadership and support of the culture sector has enabled it to flourish and grow and our organizations in particular are grateful to all Councillors for this important step forward. There is great momentum and energy in the community and it is important that it continues to be nurtured.

Now more than ever we must build upon what we have achieved together. A strong and vibrant Toronto requires leadership and vision from our Mayor and Councillors and a clear plan to tackle the issues we are facing.

In four years, we want Toronto’s global story to include words like ambitious, creative, accessible, forward-thinking, responsive, collaborative and imaginative. We believe that it is possible. Indeed, it is required if we are to create a truly great 21st century city.

What we need from Toronto’s mayor:

Strategic vision: Toronto’s mayor has a clear, long-term vision for our city that builds upon our strengths, capitalizes on our people and recognizes where we need to go in order to grow our economy, bolster our international reputation and improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

Leadership: Toronto’s mayor is a team builder who can reach out to and work with colleagues at City Council, stakeholders across multiple sectors and political colleagues across the country to build consensus and take action to deliver a plan that reflects a strategic vision for our city. Toronto needs to engage and utilize all of its creative resources.

Passion: Toronto’s mayor has a deep passion and love for our city.

Inclusiveness: Toronto’s mayor embodies the values of respect, sensitivity and inclusion in every interaction, resulting in productive civil and collaborative discussion and decision-making. We believe these values form a strong foundation for healthy communities and cities.

Fiscal prudence: Toronto’s mayor will implement his/her strategic vision while managing a balanced budget for our city.

What Toronto needs to thrive:

A creative, innovative economy: Toronto needs a plan to attract businesses that will create well-paying jobs, value their employees and believe in contributing to the health and well being of our city. Our mayor will need to lead the development and implementation of this plan.

Healthy and productive citizens: Toronto needs to invest wisely in supports and services to ensure that all of our citizens have an equal opportunity to succeed and contribute to our city. Local community and arts centres, sports programs and facilities, day care centres and health care organizations all require stable and adequate funding and enhanced community support to properly serve their clients. Our mayor will need to champion these investments.

A strong and vibrant cultural sector: Toronto needs to invest in the arts; a strong cultural sector drives tourism, attracts employees and encourages creativity. The arts encourage people to take risks, engage with others and view the world in new and imaginative ways. It is an education/innovation agenda that will make the next generation stronger. Our mayor will need to understand the value of arts and culture.

Affordable and accessible transportation: Toronto needs a long-term strategy for transit, roads and bicycle lanes to ensure that our citizens can get to their jobs, schools, social activities and home to their families safely and quickly. It’s an issue of both productivity and quality of life. Our mayor will need to have a clear vision for transportation.

Beautiful and connected spaces: Toronto needs to establish the highest possible standards to achieve a well-planned mix of built neighbourhoods and green spaces that will serve our citizens and be welcoming to our visitors. Our mayor will need to advocate for a livable city.

Together we can build a city that achieves its great potential. We call upon our next mayor and Council to demonstrate the courage and leadership our city will need as it faces the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Matthew Teitelbaum, Director and CEO, Art Gallery of Ontario
Alexander Neef, General Director, Canadian Opera Company
William Boyle, CEO, Harbourfront Centre
Janet Carding, Director & CEO, Royal Ontario Museum
Albert Schultz, Founding Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre
Barry Hughson, Executive Director, The National Ballet of Canada
Karen Kain, Artistic Director, The National Ballet of Canada
Piers Handling, Director and CEO, Toronto International Film Festival
Roberta Smith, Interim President and CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

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