Summer of Play

June 17, 2021

September 5, 2021


The Bentway, Fort York Boulevard, Toronto


Events Description


The Bentway launches Playing in Public this summer, a collection of outdoor and online projects that invite you to rediscover “play” in the city. By the neighbourhood, for the neighbourhood, the program includes 8 art installations, a connective Play Path, roaming and audio experiences, and more.

Playing in Public spreads out across “The Bentway and beyond” into local parks, public spaces, and sidewalks throughout the Fort York, CityPlace, Niagara, and Waterfront communities. Participatory and “playable”, it has been designed to offer COVID-safe engagement for local residents to explore their city in new ways. Installations (including work by Daily tous les jours, Esmaa Mohamoud, Assemble, Studio F-Minus, Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels, Pierre Poussin, The Street Society, and Nelson Wu and biosphere) are rolling out in the coming weeks; with the full exhibition launching in early July.

Playing in Public takes inspiration from the deeply intertwined relationship between play and public space. From playgrounds and basketball courts, to interactive signage and apps that map the city in new ways, play exists both within the boundaries of built public spaces and outside of them. Artists, designers, and planners have long used games to ask questions about the city – investigating new approaches to education, navigation, identity, and history. How does play change the way we feel and interact in public space? How has the nature of play changed in a mid/post-COVID city?

Roaming experiences to discover:

Audio playcasts offering reflections on play in the city with: Britta B. (spoken word artist); Dan Iaboni (parkour practitioner; founder of The Monkey Vault); youth in conversation with Urban Minds
Available July 3

A joy-inducing, smile-spreading pop-up by Stuart Semple (UK) that reminds us how play can help us through our toughest times.
Various (secret) dates and locations

Artist residency with Bekah Brown (Toronto; Anishinaabe) exploring Indigenous traditions of recreation, culture, and sport as tools for resistance, healing, and reconciliation
Throughout the summer

Toronto-based Retro Rolla will offer paid roller skate rentals onsite. Pre-registration is required. Visit for more information. 19+ visitors are also invited to a post-skate sip next to the Skate Trail on Saturdays later this summer, courtesy of Smirnoff Berry Blast.
Opening June 19, Thursdays to Sundays

Online talks on play as a strategy for urban recovery, co-presented with World Urban Parks and 8 80 Cities:

Featured guests include: Alex Bozikovic, Mitchell Chan, Jen DeMelo, Adil Dhalla, Tim Gill, Alexandra Lange, Melissa Mongiat, Amanda O’Rourke, Janie Romoff, and Luis Serrano
On July 13 and September 7


Date & Time:

Eight (8) creative installations, including new forms of basketball, play equipment, and music-making:

Walk Walk Dance by Daily tous les jours (Montreal)
Now open through July 24
Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd

Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud (Toronto)
Opening July 7 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Big Red by Assemble (UK)
Opening June 19 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Nil:Nil by Studio F Minus (Toronto)
Opening June 19 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Play Public by Thomas Mailaender (France) and Erik Kessels (Netherlands), co-commissioned with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Open now
The Bentway Studio, 55 Fort York Blvd (next to Canoe Landing Park)

Jax by Pierre Poussin (Toronto), co-commissioned with Concord Adex
Opening June 30 (approx.)
Under the Gardiner at Dan Leckie Way

Dream Street by The Street Society (France), co-presented by TAS
Opening June 19 (approx.)
125-133 Niagara St

Midsummer Mix Vol. 1 by Nelson Wu (Toronto) and biosphere (Toronto), co-presented with the Waterfront BIA
Opening June 30 (approx.)
South side of Queens Quay West (Bathurst St to York St)

The Bentway
250 Fort York Blvd.
Toronto ON
M5V 3K9

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