Free arts, cultural events in East Bayfront & Don Lands

Waterfront Toronto announces a new program of free arts and cultural events in Toronto’s waterfront neighbourhoods. These events celebrate new public spaces in the West Don Lands and East Bayfront, inviting Torontonians and visitors alike to discover and enjoy our reimagined and revitalized waterfront.

The summer 2016 program includes a range of events for all ages, ranging across dance, music, theatre, visual arts, performance, and community-engaged artwork. Many of the selected programs also take on important themes like building community, placemaking, civic engagement, education, health and wellness, and the environmental.

Many of these events are funded through Waterfront Toronto’s Animating Our Waterfront pilot program that facilitates individuals, organizations, collectives and groups who wish to present free arts and cultural programming in selected parks and public spaces in our city’s waterfront neighbourhoods.

All the events are free, open to the public and suitable for all ages.


Where: Corktown Common’s paths and trails around the marsh

When: Installed from July through September

Street Projects by Open Field Collective

Open Field Collective has installed five tiny art galleries along the trails and paths that encircle the marsh at Corktown Common. These brightly coloured “art boxes” are mounted on posts at the trail’s edge and their contents are curated with rotating exhibitions of work by contemporary artists. In July, discover works by Jason van Horne, Erika James, Lisa Goldberg, Marcia Huyer, and Shane Tyler Adams and NIXO.

Open Field Collective was founded in 2014 by Toronto-based artists Scott McDermid and Erika James. They bring contemporary art into outdoor spaces where art and community can interact. Discover more of their work online:


Where: Lawren Harris Square

When: Saturday, July 16 and Sunday July 17 from 10am to 11:30am

Facebook Event:

West African Dance with Miss Coco

Miss Coco leads a live drumming performance and community dance workshop that will introduce people of all ages to the basic movements of West African Dance. The demonstration and performances will be led by Miss Coco, her drummers and participants.

Registration is free on-site on the day of the event.

Miss Coco Murray is a dancer, researcher, dance instructor and choreographer educating children/youth & adults about African-Caribbean culture and indigenous knowledge. Find her online at and follow her on Facebook.


Where: Sherbourne Common

When: Friday, July 29 from 9pm to 10pm

Facebook Event:


Versa is a unique audio/visual performance that will dazzle your eyes and ears. Music created on a bass guitar is rendered visible as low-frequency sound traveling through water. Through the use of a custom-built speaker box, with tactile bass transducers, the physical patterns produced through the interaction of sound waves and water create psychedelic patterns and shapes that are projected onto the walls of Sherbourne Common’s zinc-clad pavilion. Guests will enjoy the chance to sprawl out on the park’s spacious lawn and take in a visual and auditory treat.

Versa is an audio/visual collaboration between process-based artist Monika Hauck and musician Alex Ricci. Learn more online at and follow Versa on Facebook and Twitter.


Where: Corktown Common

When: Saturdays: August 6, 13, 20 and Sunday: August 21 from 2pm to 3:30pm

Facebook Event:

Uke Can Sing

Uke Can Sing is a series of fun and educational workshops – free and open to the public – that gather people outdoors in Corktown Common. Workshop leaders K Funk and Lady Ree teach participants how to sing and play the ukulele. These are the infamous singing ukulele ladies of the TTC Subway Musicians program – join them for a whimsical and educational jam session. Borrow a ukulele from K Funk and Lady Ree (limit of 30, first-come-first-serve) or bring your own!

K Funk and Lady Ree are professional musicians, performing artists and certified teachers in Toronto with more than ten years of experience teaching and performing. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Where: West Don Lands – Mill Street & Rolling Mills Road

When: Installed throughout August and September with community events to be announced.

Open Network

-Open Network asks the question, “How is community created in the Information Age?” This collaboration between installation artist Sean Martindale and programming coordinator Leia Gore will create a large-scale land art Wi-Fi symbol with a sculptural text-art stage in Toronto’s new West Don Lands neighbrouhood. The title refers both to Wi-Fi networks that connect people to the Internet, and to the idea of “network” in a more traditional sense, as a germinative point for community. Open Network adapts Martindale’s 2009 public intervention PARK to create a stage—the centerpiece of a series of community events that will take place August through September. More details to come – follow Waterfront Toronto on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Sean Martindale is an internationally recognized public installation artist. He has created numerous text-based public artworks, as well as installations using sod and earth as primary materials. Martindale is particularly lauded for his interventions and community projects. Learn more about Sean Martindale online:

Leia Gore has been programming public exhibitions and managing art-related events in both public and private spaces since 2008. Her interest and participation in environmentalism, socially engaged artwork, and health and wellness date back to 2002.


Where: Corktown Common and Front Street Promenade

When: Sunday, August 7 from 1pm to 6pm

Shadowland Theatre will provide a full afternoon residency of family-friendly workshops and lessons that will allow community participants to create and rehearse all the elements for a parade – from costumes to flag waving and simple choreography. This community event will celebrate local waterfront imagery, such as historical and nautical figures, birds, fish and boats. The culminating parade will combine Shadowland’s artists and participants, accompanied by local residents, visitors and passers-by. Small vignettes will occur at stops so participants can showcase their skills and form the narrative journey.

Shadowland Theatre was founded in 1983 on Toronto Island by a collective of visual and theatre artists. Shadowland is now based in a studio in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto working in collaboration with local organizations and community members, travelling throughout the GTA and across Ontario. Learn more online at and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Where: Sherbourne Common

When: Thursday, August 18 from 4:30pm to 10pm

Irene Cortes’ The Gata: Water Ceremony is a 5+ hour performance that will move through the many spaces and landscapes of Sherbourne Common. Using voice, dance, live music and innovative, non-invasive staging approaches that incorporate the land, this performance will transform Sherbourne Common into an opera house. Drawing from a wide array of wisdom traditions, particularly those of First Nations and Indigenous Peoples from across the globe, The Gata: Water Ceremony will perform rituals for purifying water and creating healing environmental energies. While we may not be consciously aware of these energies, we are certainly in dynamic relationship with them. We are in concert with our land and particularly our water. This will be a celebration and acknowledgement of Lake Ontario as the provider of our most precious resource on Earth: Water.

Irene Cortes is a multi-disciplinary Buddhist artist based in Toronto. Her books have been distributed in Asia and her plays have been produced in theaters across South Korea, China, and Thailand. Her films and performances have been exhibited in venues such as Spin Gallery (Toronto), Fundació Suñol (Barcelona), RufXXX (Seoul), Platoon Kunsthalle (Berlin), Dieselverkstaden (Sweden) and The Aga Khan Museum (Toronto). Her sculptures are in the permanent land art collection at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Sustainability (Spain). Her current work reassembles film and opera productions using these to build vernacular architecture and renewable energy infrastructures in developing communities. Follow The Gata on Facebook.


Where: Corktown Common & Bala Underpass

When: Saturday, September 24 from 1pm to 5pm

Singing River consists of two complementary programming strands: Stream of Stories focuses on tales of river creatures while A River’s Journey presents live music, audio installation and dance inspired by water.

Stream of Stories

Storytellers Cathy Elliott, Sharada Eswar and Diana Tso share tales from Indigenous Canada and around the world, inviting us to renew our relationship with our city’s rivers. Stories of river creatures include Chinese river dragons; the Mi’kmaq horned serpent; and Kaliya, the multi-headed snake from Hindu mythology. Supernatural creatures which wield power through flooding and natural disaster can be appeased by our respectful relationships with rivers, lakes and streams.

A River’s Journey

Dance, music and audio art inspired by rivers and our watery bodies. Performance highlights include:

  Julia Aplin’s dancing Nomads roaming the park with their canoe, in search of the river and adventure.

  Vocal chameleon Christine Duncan and the Burble Choir give voice to the struggles and pleasures of an urban river.

  The soulful Alex Samaras and GREX sing of the intertwined lives of humans and trees: we are all “rooted in the same ground.”

  Nova Bhattacharya’s evocative Bird waits and watches as time and the river pass — with dancer Lucy Rupert and percussionist Germaine Liu.

  Julia Aplin’s River Spirit is immersive dance at its most powerful: an exercise in trust and flow, dancing with the river.

  Undercurrents sets the Bala underpass reverberating with an original song to the Wonscotonach/Don River, sung in Ojibway by Marie Gaudet.

Singing River is a production by Urbanvessel. At the intersection of multiple disciplines and cultures, Urbanvessel forges new connections, reflects contemporary life, and subverts social assumptions. Centred in the power of the human voice, Urbanvessel‘s creative works aim to alter our audience’s perspective on their world. Learn more about their work online: and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

tel: 416-214-1344

fax: 416-214-4591