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May 2007 - Nr.


The Editor
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Harper in Berlin
Open Letter by GIT
KW & Beyond
Celebrating the Big 40
Annual Chef Festival
Dick reports...
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Ham Se det jehört?
Conservationist of the Year
Art History - June
Stratford Summer Music
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Met Pays Tribute
Indian Art at AGO
Aboriginal Art at AGO
Bernini in Focus
New Citizens Through Art
Gladstone World Music Series
Canada Council Arts Challenge
To Be A Famous Writer
5 Star Experience
Regreening of Canada
Sick, Injured Wild Animal
Astronaut Thomas Reiter
Tax Freedom Day Earlier
VW: Every Model a Hybrid

When one door closes,
another one opens


Open letter about the restructuring of the
Goethe-Institutes in Canada

Dear friends and partners of the Goethe-Institut Toronto,

In recent weeks we have received a lot of letters, emails and calls with regards to the upcoming changes at the Canadian Goethe-Institutes in both Montréal and Toronto. Your interest in the restructuring process of the Goethe-Institut Toronto is, of course, greatly appreciated and we understand your concerns. Many of you have requested that we should reconsider the decisions that have been taken. There is even an online petition to this effect. Others have told us, however, our plans make perfect sense and might work very well. Whatever your personal position on this matter, we would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and particularly for your kind words of appreciation of the cultural contributions of the Goethe-Institut Toronto. We are truly grateful for your continued support, your partnership and collaboration and your overall commitment to our work as part of the Canadian-German exchange. The credit, however, goes to my colleagues who have really done a great job in this city for so many years.

The Globe and Mail noted on April 18, 2007 that the Goethe-Institut Toronto "has been a model of cultural diplomacy": "For more than 40 years, the Toronto Goethe-Institut has been a hub of activity and a centre for dialogue between Canadian artists and their European counterparts." And this compliment describes exactly how we intend to continue our work in the future of bringing Canadians and Germans closer together. In addition to the information you have gathered from our previous press release and recent coverage in the Canadian media, please let me share some information with you, in order to shed more light on developments here.

In the past, we have often successfully carried out events together with Canadian partners in their venues. The decision to transfer our own programs and integrate them entirely into Canadian supporter and partner organizations certainly has positive aspects and follows on previously proven experiences. Therefore, it's nothing new at all to embed our programs in Canadian establishments. To name a few examples:

  • This year we celebrated the highly successful launch of Eh! U - Meet the Europeans! 3rd European Union Film Festival 2007 at the Royal Cinema in Little Italy with Oskar Roehler's grim, funny, moving and thought-provoking film Elementary Particles, based on Michel Houellebecq's controversial novel which has acquired cult status. As NOW magazine wrote the day of the festival opening, it is hard to understand why this movie (like most films in our festival) has never been screened in Canada before. That's exactly what the Goethe-Institut is here for: to offer you a unique chance to see German films you may have missed at the Toronto International Film Festival, or which are otherwise unavailable.
  • In spring 2007, for the joint presentation of the Canadian launch of Henckel von Donnersmarck's Academy Award winner The Lives of Others along with Mongrel Media, we chose the Isabel Bader Theatre.
  • These days visitors can marvel at Thomas Demand's amazing work Gate on 9-11 as part of the exhibition The Constructed Image: Photographic Culture during this year's CONTACT Photography Festival, currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. It was our pleasure to make it possible to include Demand in this show. Toronto has a great art and gallery scene, which is ideally suited to present this work in a Canadian context.
  • Similarly, the Goethe-Institut Toronto contributed as a co-partner on many levels to The Power Plant's recent shows on Daniel Richter and Make Your Own Life: Artists In & Out Of Cologne which focussed on Martin Kippenberger and his circle.
  • Likewise, our Mayors' Symposium during the Toronto Meets Berlin series, which was part of the Canadian-German Festival, took place at City Hall.
  • We celebrated World Theatre Day 2007 at the Gladstone Hotel, with the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Consulate General of France.
  • Our Munk-Goethe Writers Residency is embedded in our cooperation with the University of Toronto. We had celebrated Artists-in-Residence from Germany at the Drake and the Gladstone Hotels as well as German authors at various Authors Festivals across Canada.
  • Our New Music concerts with contemporary composer stars such as Lachenmann and Kagel deserved to be presented in the prestigious Glenn Gould Studio.
  • DJs like Paul van Dyck and Chris Liebing belong in the Guvernment club, new German Pop in the Horseshoe or Lee's Palace.
  • Finally, all activities outside Toronto and Montréal happen at Canadian venues anyway.

We are thrilled to illustrate the richness, creativity and diversity of German cultural life and to show a full slate of exciting premieres from across the Atlantic. Having said that, we decided to introduce a cost-cutting plan, allowing us to present future projects with a higher degree of visibility in Canadian partner venues. As I have explained before, to spend as much on rent for a German gallery or our own theatre, concert hall and library as we currently do, just is not viable anymore. This will also be the perspective for the Goethe-Institut in Montréal. The exact time frame for Montréal, however, has yet to be determined.

As we all know, restructuring always denotes adaptation and change. The good news is that we will continue our work at the Goethe-Institutes in Canada in full force on all operational levels. As alluded to above, our budget for cultural and educational activities will expand -thus also benefiting less centrally-located Canadian cities- when it is no longer tied to the fixed costs of steadily increasing infrastructure such as the rental of highly expensive event space. As you can see, we have arrived at these decisions, which were not easy ones for us, not purely through financial considerations, but rather via strong conceptual arguments.

Also of significance is the new alignment of our institute's network in terms of our global strategy. Shifts on this level are a completely normal and, indeed, a necessary process for "global players", determined by overarching political perspectives rather than the respective local viewpoint. In cooperation and agreement with the Department of Foreign Affairs of Germany and members of the German parliament, the Goethe-Institut has therefore decided to initiate the kinds of changes you are observing in Canada. The decision has been made. Still we believe we will turn this into a win-win situation for everyone.

On July 1, 2007 the Goethe-Institut Toronto will change its mode of operation. As a result of this restructuring process there will be some visible changes for the public on King St W:

  • The Institut will remain on the second floor of its present location. The new entrance is moving to the other side of the building and the address is turning into 100 University Ave.
  • We would like to take this opportunity to inform you that a new Media Lounge will be opened on the second floor of the institute. Much of the library's material will find its way upstairs into the Media Lounge, and we will continue to add the latest and greatest in books, DVDs, CDs, newspapers and magazines from Germany in the future. The format for the Media Lounge will be somewhat different from what you are currently used to. Reference resources, for the most part, will be transferred into the hands of the Toronto Public Reference at Yonge & Bloor. Children's materials will be transferred to the German School. Otherwise, you can expect to find a fine selection of the very best of what German writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers have to offer. The dates for the opening of our Media Lounge will be announced shortly. Please check our website for updates:
  • At the end of June 2007, the Goethe-Institut Toronto will give up its gallery, its movie theatre, its library and reception area on King St West.

To sum it all up

  • Will this be the end of Canadian-German cultural exchange once we have closed our gallery and the movie theatre? Of course not. Cassandra never was my favourite figure in Greek mythology. When a door closes, a window opens.
  • Will the GI support art shows in Canada involving German artists? Yes.
  • Is it possible to present German movies and filmmakers in Toronto? Yes.
  • Can we establish new forms of collaborations with local Canadian partners? Yes.
  • Are we saying "Mission accomplished"? No way. The show will go on. We will continue to offer German culture, language and information services in Canada. I would like to invite our Canadian partners in the community and the arts scene to arrange new long-term partnerships with us.

We would be happy to supply additional information at any time should you have further questions. At the same time, we encourage your future cooperation and ongoing connection with the Goethe-Institut. Please, keep in touch with the Goethe-Institut! It's never been easier. Would you like to receive regular updates about our cultural programs and events? Would you like to receive regular updates about our information and library services? All you need to do is to sign up for our e-newsletters on our web site:

We offer an online newsletter covering current topics related to contemporary Germany. To subscribe to the newsletter, please send an email to .

I am looking forward to seeing you soon at our events.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Arpad A. Sölter

Goethe-Institut Toronto
163 King St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 4C6


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