From dusk until the early pre-dawn hours on September 30, 2006, Toronto buzzed with excitement as 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.
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, 2008 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.
Nuit Blanche 2008 brought 136,000 tourists to the city. The event generated $13.7 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 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, 2009 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 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 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, 2011 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 Nuit Blanche's many interactive art works.
A collaborative undertaking, 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 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.
On Saturday, September 29, 2012 Toronto's seventh annual sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art brought together the exceptional talents of more than 500 artists and curators.
Toronto was exposed to a full sensory experience as Nuit Blanche filled the streets with crowds on a nocturnal search for contemporary art. In total, more than 150 projects from smaller, more intimate experiences to large-scale spectacle offered audiences unique experiences with art and their city.
Based on results from an Ipsos Reid survey, the economic impact of Nuit Blanche 2012 was calculated to be $38 million with an additional $4.2 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 170,000 out of town visitors.
On Saturday, October 5, 2013, audiences flooded the streets to experience Nuit Blanche – Toronto’s annual celebration of contemporary art. The eighth edition of the popular all-nighter featured 112 art projects from 500 international artists and was supported by more than 475 volunteers and 20 sponsors and partners.
For the first time there were six extended projects, allowing Toronto residents and visitors further opportunity to experience some of this year's highlights, including Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles at Nathan Phillips Square.
Nuit Blanche 2013 attracted both local and out-of-town audiences, with an estimated attendance exceeding one million people and included more than 190,000 out-of-town visitors. Based on the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey, the economic impact for Toronto generated by the event was calculated to be $39.5 million.
Toronto's all-night celebration of contemporary art transformed the streets on Saturday, October 4 for the ninth edition of Nuit Blanche. Audiences experienced more than 120 contemporary art projects from 400 local, national and international artists, ranging from sculpture and performance art to mixed-media and interactive installations, and beyond.
To allow Toronto residents and visitors a further opportunity to experience the art, ten projects were extended including Yvette Mattern's Global Rainbow blazing through Toronto's night sky.
Based on the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey, Nuit Blanche 2014 generated an economic impact of about $40.5 million for Toronto. The popular event attracted both local and out-of-town audiences, with an estimated attendance exceeding one million people and including close to 200,000 out-of-town visitors.
From sunset to sunrise on Saturday, October 3, audiences filled Toronto's streets for the 10th edition of Nuit Blanche Toronto. For 10 years the event has fostered cultural engagement, making contemporary art accessible to a mass and diverse audience. It continues to showcase and transform the city in the most surprising and exceptional ways. In 2015, audiences experienced more than 110 contemporary art projects from 400 local, national and international artists, ranging from sculpture and performance art to interactive installations and mixed media.
In honour of this milestone year, Nuit Blanche Toronto presented a first-ever artist exhibition, featuring multiple projects from internationally acclaimed artist JR (New York/Paris); a special exhibition called 10 for 10th, that engaged major cultural organizations under the curatorial vision of Memory Lane from Che Kothari (Toronto/Los Angeles). It was also the first-time ever that the Independent Projects were presented under a curatorial theme (also Memory Lane).
For a third year, extended projects allowed Toronto residents and visitors further opportunity to experience some of this year's highlight's, including JR's Campbell's House: Your Eye Inside Out, Luis Jacob's Sphinx, Carlos Amorales' Black Cloud and Ekow Nimako's Silent Knight. Ipsos Reid survey results showed that hundreds of thousands of people took advantage of this extension and visited one or more of these projects after the main event until October 12.
Based on the survey findings, Nuit Blanche Toronto 2015 generated an economic impact of about $41.5 million for Toronto, attracting both local and out-of-town audiences, with an estimated attendance of over one million people including 205,000 out-of-town visitiors.
Each year the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art creates a legacy website where past Nuit Blanche events are archived and celebrated.