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Telling Toronto’s story

If you’re a regular reader of ATC, you’ll know that I often talk about cities in the same way that many people talk about products and services. (See: The business of cities.) And I do that because cities are our new economic unit and so I find it helpful to think of them as businesses fighting to attract and retain the best talent and win over customers (i.e. residents and businesses).

Which is why I’m intrigued by Jason Logan’s pitch to invent the position of Creative Director at the City of Toronto. Here’s his pitch:

“This is an open challenge to the all the mayoral candidates. In the past 10 years, Toronto has undergone a cultural, artistic, and technological renaissance: The ROM, the AGO, and OCAD U all underwent architectural makeovers; TIFF rose to prominence as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world; Nuit Blanche was unleashed in 2006, and Luminato in 2007, both to huge acclaim; the high-tech industry has created 30,000 new jobs; and The New York Times admitted that Toronto’s culinary scene is more ethnically diverse than the five boroughs. But here’s the thing: The story we tell ourselves and the world about our remarkable city needs an overhaul. Toronto Needs a Creative Director is a campaign committed to building a better story by better mobilizing the arts, culture, and technology sectors to enhance civic engagement. The CDTO (the office of Creative Direction for the City of Toronto) would function as a lab for incubating ideas where art, culture, politics, science, and technology intersect.”

Truthfully, I’m not yet sure if a Creative Director is the ideal approach. I haven’t had a chance to give it enough thought. But I am certain that Toronto would benefit from a bunch of smart people who were focused on telling our story to the world, crafting our brand and identity, and honing the experience of living or visiting this great city.

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