From dusk until the early pre-dawn hours on September 30, 2006, Toronto buzzed with excitement as Scotiabank Nuit Blanche was first unleashed on an unsuspecting city. Torontonians left behind the comfort of their beds en masse, as 425,000 people ventured out onto the city's streets for an all-night exploration and celebration of contemporary art.
As remarkable and distinctive as the art was, the magic came from the audience response and interaction. Most importantly, through this event a new audience was introduced to contemporary art by making it fun, engaging and accessible.
This event brought together a wide range of sectors and the exceptional talents of more than 400 artists and curators, 300 onsite logistical staff, 200 docents and volunteers, 87 galleries, museums and art institutions, and 13 corporate sponsors and media partners.
Within hours of the sun rising on October 1, hundreds of enthusiastic e-mails, letters and phone calls poured in from artists, participants, volunteers, councillors and event attendees. The inaugural edition of this event received widespread acclaim and accolades.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2007 took place on September 29 and featured a 45% increase in projects, a 55% increase in community participation and close to double the audience attendance, securing its place as one of Canada's major cultural events. Streets overflowing with 800,000 revellers experiencing contemporary art from dusk-to-dawn offered a strong indication that it had reached a critical mass of popularity and participation - no small feat for an event only in its second year.
In only two years, the economic impact of the event increased from $1 million to $4.9 million. More than 500 artists and 125 cultural institutions participated in the 2007 event, and the TTC remained open all night for the first time in decades.
Support from the arts community, corporate sponsors and the City of Toronto was unparalleled - providing the resources to further expand the event into new exhibition sites, to improve traffic flow and increase the scale and scope of monumental art projects. Additionally, a Volunteer Advisory Board was established to assist in selecting and guiding curators and the curatorial process for years to come.
On Saturday, October 4, 2021 close to a million revellers took to Toronto's streets to participate in this playful sunset-to-sunrise celebration. The event brought together the exceptional talents of more than 750 artists and curators, 450 docents and volunteers, 92 galleries, museums, cultural and educational institutions and neighbourhoods, and 24 corporate sponsors and media partners.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2008 brought 136,000 tourists to the city. The event generated $16.7 million in local economic impact (direct, indirect and induced), $18.3 million direct spending (visitor and operational spending) and 244 jobs for the community, with $7.6 million spillover impact for the Province of Ontario.
Toronto's fourth annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche engaged audiences in a massive participatory celebration of contemporary art. Building on the success of past event's interactive art projects, the concept of audience participation was taken to a whole new level. On Saturday, October 3, 2021 close to a million members of the public literally became the art they had ventured out all night to see. New interactive tools including the Night Navigator iPhone/Blackberry app and My Night itinerary encouraged everyone to share pictures and schedules, tweet, text and talk to each other as they explored the city well into the wee hours of the morning.
Survey results indicate that over 100,000 tourists were motivated to visit Toronto to attend the event, helping to generate $18 million in local economic impact, an increase of 24 per cent over last year, as a result of visitors travelling longer distances to attend the event and an increase in overnight hotel stays.
Toronto's playful sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art, returned on October 2, 2010. The fifth edition of the popular all-nighter featured more than 130 projects created by nearly 500 artists and required the help of more than 450 volunteers and 14 corporate sponsors and media partners.
New for 2010, Share Your Night captured the dynamic pulse of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche through shared communication. The audience shared their photos, comments and favourite moments with the whole city through this collaborative real-time journaling platform.
To celebrate the 5th year of the event, a retrospective exhibition featuring photos, videos and previously mounted works from 2006-2009 ran from September 20 - October 3. Additionally, a series of lectures entitled Nuit Talks were held in the week preceding the event and encouraged dialogues that explored the boundaries of art in public space.
Nearly one million people attended the 2010 event, including close to 140,000 out of town visitors. Based on results from an Ipsos Reid survey, the economic impact of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2010 was calculated to be $34.7 million with an additional $4.4 million spillover impact for the Province of Ontario - a 48 per cent increase over 2009.
On Saturday, October 1, 2021 Toronto was transformed by hundreds of artists for the city's sixth annual sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art.
Artists and curators took the concept of audience engagement to new levels. They flew, created massive fire blasts, and walked through water. The public contributed their voices, faces and muscle by the tens of thousands as they animated and collaborated with Scotiabank Nuit Blanche's many interactive art works.
A collaborative undertaking, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 brought together the exceptional talents of more than 500 artists and curators, dozens of galleries, museums, cultural and educational institutions and neighbourhoods, 500 volunteers and 25 corporate sponsors and media partners.
Based on results from an Ipsos Reid survey, the economic impact of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 was calculated to be $37.2 million with an additional $4.5 million spillover impact for the Province of Ontario. The event attracted both local and out-of-town audiences, with an estimated attendance of one million including more than 120,000 out of town visitors.
Nuit Blanche was originally conceived in Paris, France in 2002, in an attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses in public spaces. Now universally translated as 'Sleepless Night', Nuit Blanche brings more than a million people to the streets of Paris every year. In 2005, Paris organizers contacted the City of Toronto's Special Events office with an invitation to join the ranks of approximately six other European cities producing similar all-night events. The international success of Nuit Blanche continues to build each year and has expanded its reach beyond Paris to more than 25 cities across the globe - each offering its own version of the all-night art extravaganza.
Toronto was the first North American city to fully replicate the Paris model, and has inspired similar celebrations throughout North America, including San Francisco, New York, Miami and Chicago.
At its core, Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour event with a mandate to make contemporary art accessible to large audiences, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. Nuit Blanche is both a "high art" event and a free populous event that encourages celebration and community engagement. From sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions. Unusual or forbidden spaces become sites of contemporary art open for all-night discovery and rediscovery. Cultural institutions, from museums to galleries to artist run centres, open their doors and offer free access to contemporary art. The everyday is suspended as the city's landscape is changed to welcome a variety of artistic experiences.
Toronto's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche has wholeheartedly embraced these principals, and has become a cultural phenomenon the likes of which the city has never seen.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2006 web archive
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2007 web archive
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2008 web archive
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2009 web archive
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2010 web archive
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 web archive
Each year the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art creates a legacy website where past Scotiabank Nuit Blanche events are archived and celebrated.