Is Toronto a liveable city? Talks exploring our changing city kick off AGO spring/summer programming season

Plus: new live performance series reimagining the museum experience launches in April

TORONTO Inspired by the portraits of a city undergoing immense change on view now in Impressionism in the Age of Industry, the AGO today announces an upcoming season of public programming as dynamic and compelling as Toronto, including talks, poetry, dance and public exhibition openings.

Drawing on its reputation as a unique performance venue and a hotbed for emerging artists, the AGO launches AGO Live, a dedicated series of performance events designed to reimagine the limits of what art can be within the museum. From marquee presentations to intimate moments and special commissions, the series is intentionally experimental and its formula flexible, highlighting local and international artists’ creative journeys in music, dance and visual art.

“Toronto is a rapidly changing city, and our programs reflect the urgency, challenges and excitement surrounding us,” said Devyani Saltzman, Director of Public Programming at the AGO. “By offering everything from talks to performances and film screenings, we’re welcoming art in all its forms, strengthening the AGO’s reputation as the imaginative centre of our city.”

Highlights from the AGO’s spring/summer season of public programming include:

Toronto the Liveable City? Talk Series
In partnership with the Toronto Star and the Toronto Public Library, the AGO hosts a series of four free conversations about the liveability of Toronto now and in the future. Tickets for the talks are free but must be reserved in advance at Related free events will take place at Toronto Public Library branches across the city. For more information visit

  • Housing (April 3): How hot is too hot for a housing market? Join urban planner and housing researcher Cheryll Case, Toronto Star reporter Emily Mathieu, and architect and community designer John Van Nostrand as they discuss current issues around affordable housing, and how to best bridge to gap between knowledge and action.
  • Work (April 5): What are the challenges facing workers in today’s labour market? Join Deena Ladd, founder of the Worker’s Action Centre, Sheila Block, Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Kara Manso, a co-ordinator with the Caregivers Action Centre and Sara Mojtehedzadeh, journalist with the Toronto Star, as they discuss the changing nature of work in Toronto.
  • Transportation (April 17): From ongoing public transit projects to traffic on the 401, almost everyone in Toronto is affected by the transportation planning choices made today. Join TTCRiders Director Shelagh Pizey-Allen, UofT Transportation Geographer Steven Farber, and Toronto Star Transit Reporter Ben Spurr as they discuss the dreams and challenges of mobility in Toronto.  
  • Leisure (April 24): How do leisure activities bridge differences and break down barriers in Toronto’s diverse urban environment? In this talk, by placemaker and author Jay Pitter, the audience will be invited to imagine more inclusive and vibrant public spaces for our city.  

AGO Live
Launching this spring, AGO Live is an exciting new series of performances by emerging and celebrated artists from various disciplines. The series debuts on April 26, 2019 with the Toronto premiere of Serpentine, a performance by award-winning Montreal choreographer Daina Ashbee co-presented with Harbourfront Centre.

  • Combining electric organ music and slow, sensual movement, Serpentine by choreographer Daina Ashbee is a powerfully intense summary of her previous three works, Unrelated (2014), When the ice melts, will we drink the water? (2016) and Pour (2016). Featuring an original score by Jean-Francois Blouin, the performance juxtaposes haunting sounds with choreography beautifully performed by dancer Areli Moran. Stay tuned to for more details.

Talks & Openings

  • Dionne Brand returns to the AGO’s Walker Court on March 27, 2019 to celebrate the launch of of McClelland & Stewart’s newest poetry releases featuring heft by Doyali Islam, cluster by Souvankham Thammavongsa, Cassidy McFadzean’s Drolleries and Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough. Each poet will read from their own work.
  • On April 6, 2019 West Coast-based poets and friends Cecily Nicholson and Juliane Okot Bitek will join Lillian Allen (of OCADU) celebrate their new publications with a conversation about cross-cultural memory and collective amnesia. Presented in partnership with OCADU.
  • Garry Garrels, curator of the forthcoming exhibition Vija Celmins: To Fix an Image in Memory comes to Jackman Hall on May 3, 2019 from his home at SFMOMA to discuss the artist, her work, and how the retrospective (opening at the AGO on May 4) captures the essence of her decades-long career. Tickets for this talk are free, but must be booked in advance. 
  • Susanne Craig, investigative journalist with The New York Times, joins journalist Robert Cribb in Baillie Court on May 4, 2019 for Power, Money and Trump: Reporting on a Post-Truth President. This wide-ranging conversation will cover Craig’s trials and triumphs breaking key stories about the Trump presidency.
  • Legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth launches his newest and most masterful work: Clyde Fans in Jackman Hall on May 8, 2019. With illustrations on the cover of The New Yorker and The Walrus, and works featured in the AGO’s collection, Seth will discuss the 20-year process of creating this new work.
  • Brian Jungen returns to the AGO this summer with an exciting solo exhibition. The AGO celebrates the first solo-exhibition by a contemporary Indigenous artist in the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion with a free public opening event in Walker Court and artist talk on June 19, 2019.

Youth Programs

  • Award winning artists Ness Lee joins youth in the AGO’s Free After Three program to teach the fundamentals of clay. From pinch pot piggy banks to brooches, Lee will demonstrate the relaxed creativity of hand building with clay. Classes begin April 11, 2019. 

There’s more to come in the spring/summer season at the AGO. Visit for more information and stay tuned as more information is released, including an exciting new party event.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more is organized by the AGO.

Toronto, the Liveable City? is presented in partnership with the Toronto Star and the Toronto Public Library. Related free events will take place at Toronto Public Library branches across the city. For more information visit

AGO Youth Programs

Generously supported by   Robert Harding & Angel Yang

                                      Nancy E.A. Main

With assistance from         The Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation


Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 5.9 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO’s collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art such as Untilled by Pierre Huyghe to European masterpieces such as Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of The Innocents; from the vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous and Canadian artists; with a photography collection that tracks the impact of the medium with deep holdings of works by artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus; and with focused collections in Gothic boxwood miniatures and Western and Central African art. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. A major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008 with lead support from the family of Ken Thomson makes the AGO a highly-photographed architectural landmark. Visit to learn more.

Nov. 29, 2018 – March 24, 2019:  Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires

Feb. 16, 2019 – May 5, 2019:        Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More

June 20, 2019 – Aug. 25, 2019:    Brian Jungen

Oct. 12, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020:        Early Rubens

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.


For press inquiries, please contact:

Michael Watkins, Public Relations Officer

Andrea-Jo Wilson; Public Relations Manager

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