Welcome, Calgary and Ottawa! Spurring Growth in Five Cities at the 2014 Festival

A view of the new, KMPB-designed Desautels Hall at Rotman, U of T
A view of the new, KMPB-designed Desautels Hall at Rotman, U of T

Following our successful launch of Spur festivals in three cities (Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver) this past spring, plans are a fully underway for Spur 2014.

Although there will be a full announcement of programming early in the new year, I am pleased to confirm, as the Literary Review of Canada’s Director of Special Projects, that not only will Spur return to the original three cities next year, it will also bring Ottawa and Calgary into our national conversation. Spur has branded itself as “Canada’s first national festival of politics, art and ideas,” therefore expanding our reach to two more cities is a natural progression. My colleague, Spur Artistic Producer Nick Hutcheson, will have more to reveal on The Line about Spur 2014’s programming theme in the coming weeks. Needless to say, we anticipate many lively discussions and debates. Our order of cities has changed slightly from 2013 and Spur will be in a new city every two weeks this spring.

Spur will launch on Friday March 21st in Winnipeg, running until Sunday March 23rd. Our partnerships will continue with the University of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and there will be innovative new programming with the Manitoba Theatre Centre. We are expanding our presence in the vibrant Exchange District, particularly for our new Saturday night Cabaret programming that will include a mix of film, performance, comedy—and pretty much anything Spur participants (that includes the audience!) bring to the mix.

From Winnipeg we move to Toronto for four days—Thursday April 3th to Sunday April 6th. Once again, we will kick off with a free event at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bluma Appel Salon in partnership with the Toronto Public Library. Spur will also be increasing its presence at the University of Toronto. We will return to the Isabel Bader Theatre for our closing session on Sunday and bring events to the recently opened (and frankly stunning) Desautels Hall in the KWMB-designed Rotman School of Management. Of course, Spur’s daytime programming on Saturday and Sunday will return to the Gardiner Museum, home to Spur and the Literary Review of Canada‘s year-round Toronto events. Expect an entertaining Saturday night of diverse programming at the Innis Town Hall.

After Toronto, we open our first new Spur of 2014 in Calgary on Friday April 25th, running until Sunday April 27th. We are extremely pleased to partner with the University of Calgary and anticipate a wide range of programming at their new Downtown Campus. Downtown Calgary is home to a vast number of cultural venues and galleries. The Epcor Centre, Theatre Junction Grand and the National Music Centre may all be home to Spur events in Calgary, so keep checking The Line for new information.

A new Spur in Ottawa comes next. Just two days, Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th,  in the nation’s capital, followed by our return to Vancouver. In Vancouver, we have added a fourth day to the festival, which will start on Thursday May 22nd and run until Sunday May 25th. We will return to the versatile facilities of our partner SFU-Woodwards and we will be enlarging Spur’s presence through other downtown venues such as the Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Harbour Centre. We look forward to a final Spur Cabaret Saturday night at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in historic Gastown.

New cities and new programming also bring with them a new initiative for Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver—the Spur Young Scholars Program. With our university partners in each city, up to 100 top-achieving secondary students will join Spur on the Friday of each festival for a day of seminars and discussion on subjects they hope to pursue in their post-secondary education. We also hope they will delve into subjects they had not previously considered, such as the many unique specialty programs on offer at these institutions. More on this important initiative in future postings.

2014 marks only the next stage in growth for Spur. I am already booking venues for 2015 and you can be sure more cities will be added as Spur makes its way from coast to coast to coast.


Michael Booth

Michael Booth is the Spur Festival Director of Production. A former policy advisor on Arts and Culture to former Toronto Mayor David Miller he recently co-chaired the Toronto Book Award Committee and has served on the boards of many Toronto arts service organizations during his twenty-five years in theatre, festival and live event production.

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