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The One-Night-Only Magic of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

10/04/2013 04:06 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

The City of Toronto's adventure with the all night contemporary art event, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, came about when, at the invitation of the City of Paris, we decided to present a one-off edition in 2006. The city came alive and with overwhelming popularity right from year one and the support of a number of great partners, in particular Scotiabank, the event has been repeated each fall. What a true joy it is to continuously change the way we all look at this city, even if it happens to be just for one night.

This year, we have one of the ringmasters of the Nuit movement working alongside us. Ami Barak is based in Paris and served two years as the curator of the Paris edition. His charm and unfailing good humour has been put to excellent use by our team. Through his introductions and coaching, we are delighted to be creating such a fantastic range of projects for his "Off To A Flying Start" exhibition. Wandering past Metropolitan United Church this past weekend, I was really proud of "The Garden Tower in Toronto." Tadashi Kawamata was putting the final chairs in place before flying back to teach on Monday in Paris. Tadashi was calling out to the rigging crew and instructing them where each chair was to be placed -- nearly 1,200 of them. The crew have taken to calling the work "Chairway to Heaven" and if you line yourself up with the sculpture and the church you get a perfect tower of chairs culminating in the steeple.

Across the rest of the city, we have two other exhibitions, as well as our independent projects. I have great anticipation for seeing the audience become the parade as they journey past the static floats that make up curator Patrick Macaulay's "PARADE" exhibition along University Avenue. While curators Ivan Jurakic and Crystal Mowry have their artists exploring the complexities of the urban environment's relationship with the natural world, in their exhibition called "Romancing the Anthropocene."

Art challenges and inspires us and to experience it in this type of context is really something quite extraordinary. But for those who may question "is this art?" "How much of an art is it?" -- this year there is a solution! Thanks to VSVSVS they can call the 12 hour art hotline at 1-855-IS IT ART (1-855-474-8278) for some sage advice.

I must say that I am both amused and excited by the number of bicycles around this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, something that I have a personal connection to. My great grandfather owned a few bicycle stores in the Midlands of England and his wife used to be champion racer on the penny farthing. Just a few feet from my desk at this moment is one of Kim Adam's push-me pull-you type bikes for his 'Toaster Work Wagon.' It's a double rider mutant that will require lots of co-operation from it's riders in order to make any headway. The artist Warren Quigley will be using pedal power to complete the artwork 'Human Sweat Generator' and The Everything Company require pedallers to keep their 'Smoke House' going all night with their giveaways of freshly smoked fish. Each time I look out of the window from our offices the tower of stainless steel frames grows higher for the epic version of 'Forever Bicycles.' There are more than 3,000 bikes being assembled under the watchful eye of three staff from the studio of Ai Weiwei. I like to think it's going to be a work in the public domain that is just as important as Anish Kapoor's 'Cloudgate' in Chicago and Jeff Koon's 'Puppy.'

The out of town artists have begun to arrive en masse for all the final installations and tweaking. All will be revealed on Saturday night and for the first time in our history six of the projects will remain in situ for a longer spell and a second chance to catch up with them.

I can already feel the magic in the air!

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