Aaron Lynett/Torstar news service file photo


Pedestrians walking down Queen Street West at last year’s Nuit Blanche stop to check out an installation in the Great Hall storefront window at Queen and Dovercourt.


« We’re not a staid city anymore that just cheers for sports teams. »

Fans of Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s free annual celebration of contemporary art, can rest easy — the all-night event is here to stay for at least three more years, Mayor David Miller announced yesterday.

"The success of this event was so great last year that our streets were literally clogged with people searching for contemporary art," Miller told an audience at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

"Our challenge in 2008 is to ensure that the event growth matches audience growth."

Some 800,000 art lovers crammed the city’s streets for last year’s Nuit Blanche — 26 per cent of whom were non-residents — almost twice the amount of people who enjoyed the event from the previous year.

Originally conceived in Paris in 2002 in a drive to bring contemporary art to public places, Nuit Blanche is now celebrated internationally in cities such as Rome, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Brussels, Sao Paolo and Helsinki.

Last year, the TTC kept subway trains running for 24 hours to accommodate revelers — a policy that will also be in effect for Nuit Blanche 2008 — while parts of the city not well-known for their artistic prowess were converted into live exhibition and display spaces.

"We’re not a staid city anymore that just cheers for sports teams," Miller said of Toronto’s cultural infrastructure and diversity.

This will be the third year Toronto has opened its arms to the one-night festival and Miller promised a commitment to the event through 2010 thanks to a renewed agreement with principal sponsor Scotiabank.

"Nuit Blanche is about diversity, which will only make Toronto stronger in the future," OCAD president Sara Diamond said of the renewed commitment from the city and event sponsors.

Also announced yesterday were this year’s Nuit Blanche curators including gallery curator Wayne Baerwaldt, writer and artist Dave Dyment, South Asian Visual Arts Centre executive director Haema Sivanesan and Kitchener-based gallery curator and writer Gordon Hatt.

"I want to look at how art can provide a forum for cross-cultural discussions," Sivanesan, who relocated to Toronto from Sydney one year ago, said of her goal in helping to set the thematic and conceptual tone for the event.

While its allure as an artistic platform is clear, Nuit Blanche also benefits area businesses.

According to City of Toronto figures, last year’s event injected $4.9 million into the local economy.

Nuit Blanche runs from sunset on Oct. 4 to sunrise on Oct. 5.