Running a great city is just like producing an award winning Broadway musical.
Many dream big, but only few can put their dreams to paper. In the performing arts community, these would be called the Writers. Then there are the creative powerhouses that are able to take words on a page, and help give them movement. These would be known as the Directors. There are innovative, artistic and resourceful visionaries who dress this new world, bringing a stage and its surroundings to life. These are the talented Designers. And of course, there are the brave and creative influencers who unite the writers, directors, and designers. These people are the show. They are the beautifully diverse cast of actors that lend their own experiences and perspective to the piece. They are living out the story, live on stage.
Whether youʼre in Londonʼs West End, Broadway, or even downtown Toronto, it is clear to see how uniting these key players is the way to start building any award winning production.
Now letʼs look at Toronto: A beautiful city with so much to offer, Toronto is a creative fabric of culture, innovation, business and art, all woven together by the collective community. There isnʼt a single person in the City of Toronto who isnʼt part of this fabric. As community members, we are all living out stories, and lending our own experiences and perspectives to our surroundings. We are the actors, and Toronto our stage.
The Directors could be seen as the brave members of our communities who serve and protect, and help us along our way. These people are looking out for us, and want to see us do our best. The Designers are community service workers and maintenance teams that help build our surroundings, keeping them vibrant and ensuring they enhance our daily performance. Toronto is no black-box studio theatre. It is a massive stage filled with gardens, parks, and life. It takes the care and compassion of city workers, who help with recycling and garbage collection, green space maintenance, and overall city safety, to ensure that every player on the City of Toronto stage has access to adequate living space for their daily lives.
Now the framework is nearly complete, but there is still one major piece that hasnʼt been touched on. That is the team of Producers who oversee every aspect of a show. From planning to execution to daily performances, Producers are not only the luminaries who work to ensure a production is carried out on time and on budget, but they are also the key people looking out for their talent, including all Directors, Designers, and of course the stars of the show; the Actors. At the end of the day, the Producers are there to make sure that all the needs of every part of the show are met, with the goal always to exceed expectations. If our stage is the City of Toronto, the Producers are our City Councillors. These are the individuals, who are chosen by you to be your voice, ensuring your needs are met. They vow to work tirelessly to give you the opportunity to do your very best on the City of Toronto stage.
The casting call has gone out. You have the opportunity to join the ranks of your favourite producers. Find the production team that you feel represents you, and join their show, because you will give your best performance when surrounded by the people who understand you.
I was recently in the Yonge & Eglinton area and had the opportunity to see some political canvassing in action. Steven Levitan, who is running as a councillor for Ward 16, was walking door to door, sharing his story with his neighbours. What struck me most was that he wasnʼt knocking on doors to sell himself, but rather he was offering each of them a chance to be heard. Iʼve met many councillors, but few who really know how to listen. What I experienced with Steven wasnʼt a sales pitch. It wasnʼt really a pitch at all. It was neighbours chatting with neighbours, about real issues, and creatively brainstorming ways to help make their lives better. I had to conclude this piece by talking about Steven because as it turns out, after a successful career in law, he chose to become both a politician and a producer for film and television.
Call to Action: I challenge you to get out there and find the "production team" that you feel connected to. The Producers who you feel will represent you best. If we all do that, I believe the City of Toronto will get much more than a Tony Award. I truly believe we have the opportunity to build a production where every Actor feels personal pride in their stage, their team, and their show.
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