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May 21, 2009
Creators of Doors Open Toronto to receive national award
Almost coinciding with the 2009 Doors Open Toronto event this weekend, the Canadian Urban Institute today announced that two staff members of City of Toronto Cultural Services will receive a national award for bringing Doors Open to North America.

Karen Black and Jane French were chosen as recipients of the institute’s 2009 City Soul Award to recognize their role in establishing Doors Open Toronto and at the same time inspiring many other cities across Canada and beyond to open their doors in similar celebrations of their notable, unique buildings.

The award will be presented along with other national awards when the Canadian Urban Institute holds its 2009 Urban Leadership Awards on June 5.

“When these two women launched Doors Open for the Cultural Services department of the City of Toronto, they created a spark that allowed Canadians across this country to get re-ignited about their cities,” said Glen Murray, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. “They rekindled a kind of soulfulness and passion that we all have for the buildings in our neighbourhoods and their history.”

According to Murray, “While Doors Open started in Toronto, there wasn’t a person on our national awards jury that didn’t have a story about their own city’s Doors Open program in their own community.”

The Toronto experiment led quickly to 40 other communities in Ontario starting a Doors Open program - and it even attracted the attention of New York City. When the Big Apple was creating its first Doors Open program, the staff there called on Toronto to mentor them.

Doors Open Toronto began in 2000 with the idea of opening buildings the public usually cannot access. The goal was to celebrate architecture, history and cultural diversity. In that first year, 96 buildings were open and 71,000 people toured through them. This year, 175 buildings are on the May 23 and 24 Doors Open Toronto roster and about 250,000 visitors are expected to participate.

The Toronto buildings have included places of worship, national historic sites, bank halls, distilleries and even an abandoned subway station and a restored bowling alley.

Offering her congratulations to Karen Black and Jane French, Toronto’s Cultural Services’ Executive Director Rita Davies said, “I’m delighted that Karen and Jane are receiving national recognition for the wonderful program they initiated here in Toronto. The fact that Doors Open has acquired such wide appeal in Toronto over the years - and in other towns and cities across Canada - is a credit to Karen and Jane, and to their colleagues here in Cultural Services.”

The Urban Leadership Awards program honours Canadian individuals, groups and organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Canada’s cities and urban regions. The Canadian Urban Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in urban areas across Canada and throughout the world.

A virtual “who’s who” of city building in Canada will gather in Toronto on June 5 to honour groups and individuals across the country who are making Canadian cities exciting and dynamic places to live and work. Details about the awards:

Doors Open Toronto:

Media contacts:
Jane French, Doors Open Toronto, City of Toronto, 416-338-0496, 416-873-3462 (cell),
Karen Black, Manager, Museum Services, City of Toronto, 416-660-9702 (cell),
Janis Lynch, Manager, Urban Leadership Awards, Canadian Urban Institute, 416-365-0816, ext 283; 416-986-1771 (cell),



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