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ARTS: Online culture is real – dive in (Jan. 2021)

January 27th, 2021 · No Comments

Digitally speaking it’s wide open to explore

By Meribeth Deen 

Is 2021 everything you’d hoped it would be? Sure, you would crave a face to face conversation with a perfect stranger, but your pyjama pants are basically glued to your body at this point and who can keep up with what you’re allowed to do vs. what you’re not allowed to do and the whole world has found its way to your laptop screen.  Seriously though, push yourself. Get out for a walk and expose and inhale the smell of the streetscape; and don’t you dare forget to exercise your urban right to arts and culture. It’s still out there, and the Bloor St. Culture Corridor has still got you covered, and the artists and culture makers of the world still need your support.

First stop: the Bata Shoe Museum website to download their “Colour the BSM,” colouring book, the essential companion to your online life. It features beautiful shoes from ancient to contemporary times, and if you print it out, you can get creative and colourful, beyond the laptop. You might even create a sheet gorgeous enough to warrant pinning up on your refrigerator!

Next: consider the brain-stretching benefits of learning a language. These include: mental flexibility, multitasking, listening skills and problem-solving. You are in Toronto so you don’t have to go too far out of your way to hear any language spoken in the world today, and there is tons of teaching happening online (including classes offered by The Japan Foundation and Alliance Francaise). But wait a second, have you ever considered learning any of the languages Indigenous to this part of the world? On Facebook, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto offers Indigenous Language Word of the Day videos geared toward young children. 

While you’re there,  check out the centre’s robust schedule of online programming which includes; arts and craft workshops, health and wellness workshops, educational workshops on critical information including best practices for inviting indigenous speakers to your events, Awareness 101, and Transformation.

Your next stop might just be the ROM’s website, where you will find an interesting read and video under the heading, “Turning a Page in History.” This is the story of the museum’s “Tree Cookie,” a 2.3 metre cross section of a 500 year old Douglas Fir Tree with a timeline marking historical events on it. One of those events happens to have occurred in 1492, and to be described as a discovery. Learning how the museum addressed this historical inaccuracy without defacing the work is like tagging along on a journey where we see the embrace of a previously suppressed worldview. It’s also a wonderful break from the news cycle, and while you are “visiting” the museum, you may decide to stick around the site for a while, browse the museums’ collections, or take your kid on a virtual field trip.

Another solid destination is the Miles Nadal JCC. It’s not actually open, of course, but the good people at the community centre will keep you fit virtually, keep you learning virtually, and even get you learning an instrument virtually (similar brain benefits as learning a language, by the way). If listening’s more your thing, they’ve got some great options for that as well. Their guided listening series, Now Hear This, will bring you deep into the sound of klezmer and Yiddish music. On Tuesday evenings, starting on January 18, the director of the MNJCC Klezmer Ensemble and the Artistic Director of the Ashkenaz Festival, Eric Stein, will lead you through his treasure trove of old, new, famous and obscure recordings. Really, this sounds like a great way to spend a Tuesday evening.

There’s more, so much more on offer, and as much as we all want to be unshackled from this pandemic, maybe this is an opportunity to get to know our artists and cultural institutions in a whole new way. Their resilience and creativity is more accessible than ever, and now is the time to pour your appreciation into them to keep them creating.

Stay safe and warm, Annex neighbours.

Tags: Annex · Arts