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ARTS: Embrace culture in defiance of COVID-19 (May 2020)

June 15th, 2020 · 2 Comments

At your fingertips and while in your pjs – enjoy it!

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at U of T is making available images to download for colouring. This woodcut was made in 1490. COURTESY THE THOMAS FISHER RARE BOOK LIBRARY

By Meribeth Deen

It’s almost June. The patios should be packed. The streets should be humming, but, the coronavirus. There’s only so-much Zooming a person can take. 

So, what to do? Look to your creative neighbours to come up with something. Institutions and organizations affiliated with the Bloor St. Culture Corridor remain as creative and engaged as ever, offering new ways to connect with the community and keep your mind busy. 

Follow the Corridor and affiliates on Facebook to stay on top of events (which tend to be promoted close to their dates of streaming), and check out these tips for a taste of what’s out there.

Sharpen your humour

Join comic Courtney Gilmour  (winner of the Homegrown Comics Competition in 2017 at Just for Laughs in Montreal for an online workshop on stand-up comedy and joke writing basics. Gilmour’s got a six-part series on stand-up basics on Youtube, you can check those out and head to the workshop to discuss and ask questions. Hosted by Miles Nadal JCC on Sundays at 8pm. Check out the Centre’s jam-packed schedule, with something for everyone at

Stay Curious

The Hot Docs Curious Minds speaker series is now online. Acclaimed speakers will lead six-week courses that are available for streaming coast to coast. The Age of Upheaval delves into the cultural and artistic developments between the two World Wars. 

Led by Peter Harris, the former Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto, the series will take you out of your living room and into Manhattan speakeasies, Weimar Science labs and the Art Deco design labs of the worlds’ great cities in the 1920s and1930s. 

Grab a seat and dig into Meals that Changed the World  with food historian Dr. Laura Carlson. You’ll travel through time from the age of the Roman Empire to the White House under the Kennedy administration and find out how the dishes served at famous meals were shaped by  technology, politics, religion, warfare, and art. 

There’s much more on offer – head to the Hot Docs website to explore more.

Take your kid to the museum

The ROM remains closed but may be more accessible and inviting than ever, especially for kids. Live read-a-longs of stories are followed by a Q&A session on how the stories connect to an object at the museum. 

If you can’t make the live version, head to the ROM’s YouTube channel to watch past events and creativity challenges. Stories include Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon, The Day the Ocean Disappeared by Denise Dias, Blackflies by Robert Munsch, and on May 26, The First Mosquito, read by author Caroll Simpson. 

Be sure to keep tabs on the ROM’s Facebook page so that you can stay current on world events and how they connect to museum objects. For example, curator of Islamic Art & Culture, Fahmida Suleman, has been sharing stories of some of her favourite museum objects and their relationship to Ramadan.


The collaboration between your local libraries and food banks seems to keep getting better. The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has recently announced that they will be providing free, age-appropriate books in food hampers sent to families around the city. TPL is encouraging donations of $40 to fund the purchase of five books.


While we are talking books, and kids’ books in particular, consider your local book store. Predictably, A Different Booklist remains closed to the public, but the store is taking orders. If you’ve got any young people in your life, they’ve got a fantastic array of diverse kids’ books with write-ups on their website. They have great adult books too.


If “to puzzle” was not a verb before COVID-19, it surely will become one after. If you’ve run out of jigsaw puzzles and have not yet tired of the dopamine rush that comes with fitting one piece into another, The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto has got you covered. Go to to see images from the library’s collection turned into online puzzles, and go for it.

Tags: Annex · Arts

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