The street is not only a path from point A to point B, but also a destination in its own right. Streets are where the city converges through activities both spontaneous and planned. From parades to protests, block parties to blockades: the ever-changing spirit of the streets is a reflection of their inhabitants’ collective joys and struggles. They are a place to see and be seen, serving as a runway, stage, gallery, canvas, sandbox, and so much more.

A group of people walk by performers huddled around the base of a tree.
Bodies in Urban Spaces by Willi Dorner. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

The pandemic prompted cities across the world to reconsider the role of their streets. These familiar routes, previously reserved for vehicles, first emptied but then quickly filled, becoming sites for improvisation and innovation. During difficult days when civic life was waning, our streets connected us. Together we questioned what these spaces could be and do, and, even, the complex histories their names hold. We were reminded once again why urbanist Jane Jacobs referred to them as the city’s “most vital organs.”

Objects are suspended by cables above The Bentway along a conveyor belt.

In this same spirit, STREET is The Bentway’s free summer season which brings together artists, community members, urban planners, educators, and changemakers who invite us to see the streets of Toronto anew.

Four people sit around a picnic table with papers and markers in front of them.
Attendees of The Street Summit participate in a workshop. Photo by Shane Parent.

How can we overcome the conventions of the street and imagine new civic uses for these arteries?

Join conversations with an expansive group of city-builders about the future of our streets; experience a soaring installation that playfully conveys their vitality; listen carefully to the concrete speak and to the stories it tells. Or, take a night walk through the streets from a teen-aged perspective; witness a call-and-response between two scaffolds; chase a group of dancers along sidewalks and alleyways as they reveal unseen architectures; play the street accompanied by a choir and band; rally to rewrite the very rules that govern our streets; see the sidewalk from a new vantage as you train in Carnival masquerade; and celebrate the dog days of summer with the return of our signature event, The Bentway Block Party.

This and much more at The Bentway. Come join us at street level.