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“Artists are at the center of global conversations.” The AGO explores the changing world with fall season of talks, performances and screenings

Artists, authors and activists including Naomi Klein, Hito Steyerl, Owen Pallett, Zadie Smith and Salman Rushdie featured in an provocative and inspired line-up of programs


From Peter Paul Rubens to Hito Steyerl, artists have always been controversial and inspirational makers and thinkers who respond to the changing world around them with works that ask questions and challenge our perceptions of what is possible. This fall the AGO explores topical issues inspiring artists working today through a diverse line-up of talks, performances, screenings and courses.

“Artists ask us to reconsider the world at every turn,” says Heidi Reitmaier, AGO Deputy Director & Richard and Elizabeth Currie Chief of Education and Programming. “The works in the AGO’s galleries were created by people who were inspired, angered, enamored or concerned with the politics and practices of their contemporary worlds. Our programming continues to explore the important issues of today through the lenses of inspirational thinkers and practitioners.”

“At a time when the world is experiencing rapid change, having the right opportunities and avenues in place for people to feel included and heard is essential. Art is one of those avenues,” says Andrea Barrack, Global Head, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “The fall season of programming at the AGO is providing an opportunity for diverse artists, forward-thinkers and the public to come together to share experiences and learn from one another. For that, and more, we’re excited to support the AGO through TD’s corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.”

AGO Futures

New to the AGO’s programming line-up is AGO Futures, an expansive range of artist, author and curator talks that examine the current issues inspiring artists working today. Several events in the fall series put a special emphasis on current issues around data, surveillance and technology, inspired by the upcoming exhibition Hito Steyerl: This is the future. Highlights include: 

  • Well known for her award-winning publications, journalist and author Naomi Klein comes to the AGO on Sept. 20, 2019 for a conversation with journalist Ishmael N. Daro about how we might rise to the challenge of climate change. Offering a deep exploration of the systems and technological advances that created this problem, Klein shows how we can change these same systems and technologies to turn things around.
  • On Sept. 30, 2019, Booker Prize-winning and author of 12 novels Salman Rushdie is joined by Canadian comedian Candy Palmater for a conversation about his recent novel Quichotte.
  • On Oct. 30, 2019, internationally acclaimed author Zadie Smith discusses her first short story collection, Grand Union. In conversation with writer and CBC broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, Smith will explore the themes of identity, legacy, and the future present in all her works.
  • On Nov. 9, 2019, professor of political science and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy Ron Deibert discusses the role technology plays in our everyday lives. From smart cities and the privatization of public spaces to internet filtering impacting freedom of expression, he asks, “are digital democracies possible?” Diebert was a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative (2003-2014) and Information Warfare Monitor (2003-2012) projects, as well as a founder and VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon, one of the world’s leading digital censorship circumvention services.
  • Other talks feature writers, performers and artists Billy-Ray BelcourtAnnahid DashtgardDaniel Arsham, Paul Seesequasis and Stephanie Barnes throughout the season, continuing the conversation about contemporary art and culture.

More information and tickets for all talks in the AGO Futures series are available online at

AGO Live

The series where performance and art intersect returns with three new events spanning music, performance art and dance. AGO Live events are intentionally experimental with flexible formulas to highlight the creative journeys of local and international artists. Highlights include: 

  • The AGO debuts a specially commissioned musical work by Owen Pallett, inspired by Early Rubens and played on an antique harpsichord from the period. A divinely inspired mashup, Songs of Heaven puts a contemporary spin on the centuries-old tradition of choral singing. Performed by the Choir of St. James Cathedral under the direction of Robert Busiakliewicz, the 60-minute program features the world premiere of three new pieces composed by leading Canadian musicians PallettCris Derksen and Matt Smith. This work will premiere for two nights only on Oct. 12 and 13, 2019.
  • In partnership with Fall For Dance North, the AGO celebrates 100 Years of Merce Cunningham on Nov. 20, 2019. This evening of performances is inspired by Cunningham, one of the most influential figures in modern dance. Featuring dancers David Norsworthy, Una Ludviksen, Rena Butler, Erin Poole, Dylan Crossman along with emerging talent from the Ryerson School of Performance and live accompaniment by pianist Adam Tendler, this evening is a not-to-be-missed event exclusive to the AGO. 
  • On Dec. 6 and 7, 2019, the AGO’s Jackman Hall comes alive with the improvised sounds, ambient chanting, and video installation of Salon Mondialité, a concert featuring performances by the Japanese-born, New York-based artist Miho Hatori. The concert will explore Hatori’s experience of living in New York in the 1990s.

More information and tickets for all performances in the AGO Live series are available online at

Exhibition-inspired Programs

In addition to the vast AGO Collection on display, the Gallery has a compelling range of installations open this fall. The visit doesn’t need to end with the exhibition, though; a variety of complementary programs are designed to deepen the exhibition experience and enhance the visitor’s connection with the art and artist. Highlights include:

  • On Sept. 11, 2019, artist Valérie Blass speaks about her AGO exhibition Le parlement des invisibles. A keen sculptural wit underlies the work of this Montreal-based artist and winner of the 2017 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, who will discuss her practice on stage with Adelina Vlas, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.
  • For the first time the internationally renowned contemporary artist Hito Steyerl will have a large-scale retrospective exhibition in Canada. Hito Steyerl: This is the future, opens Oct. 23, 2019. To mark the occasion, the artist known for her intellectual breadth, critical positions and darkly humourous vision, joins New York-based writer and curator Brian Droitcour for a conversation about art and the world. The talk is free and tickets must be booked in advance.
  • On Oct. 11, 2019, the Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada (and former curator of European Art at the AGO) Dr. Sasha Suda returns to Toronto for a talk on Early Rubens. As co-curator of the exhibition, Suda will discuss how Rubens made the Baroque his own as an artist and statesman in early 17th-century Antwerp.
  • On Oct. 25, 2019, join Lisa Reihana in conversation with Julie Nagam as they discuss Reihana’s AGO installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected]. This event is in partnership with ImagiNATIVE and the Toronto Biennial.
  • Last spring, the AGO announced the acquisition of Fade Resistance, an extraordinary group of Polaroids documenting African American family life from the 1970s to the early 2000s, assembled by award-winning Canadian photographer Zun Lee. On Dec. 18, 2019 in Baillie Court, Lee will host a round-table conversation to discuss the role of museums in the collection and care of personal photographs. Entitled Ways of Caring, this free event is the first in a series of three and will feature scholars Dr. Fred Moten and Dr. Stefano Harney, among others.  
  • The AGO’s fall film series in Jackman Hall playfully responds to the biblical subject matter in the Early Rubens exhibition. From the 1981 epic Clash of the Titans to the 1949 re-telling of the classic biblical tale Samson and Delilah, and the critically questionable 1962 biblical retelling of Sodom and Gomorrah, this series considers how these narratives have been told. 
  • The AGO will be hosting a special screening of The Goldfinch on Sept. 19, 2019, fresh off its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is based on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt and features a star-studded cast including Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, and Jeffery Wright. It is a stirring odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption, art and even love.

More information and tickets for all events in the Exhibition-inspired Programs series are available online at

AGO All Hours

After its exciting launch last May, AGO All Hours returns on Oct. 26, 2019 with an all-new roster of programs and performances inspired by Hito Steyerl: This is the future. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon.

Youth Programs

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the AGO offers free drop-in programming for Toronto youth. Activities are presented by creative practitioners who are shaping Toronto and shifting how we think about art, culture and public collaborations. This fall the program features Hip Hop sessions led by Unity Charity, an organization that works to improve young people’s lives through dance; and workshops staged by STEAMLabs, a non-profit community makerspace, where people of all ages and abilities come together for access to high tech tools, to learn, and to create. 777 Glow Up, a hip hop battle, organized by Unity Charity returns to the AGO and the Gallery’s partnership with Native Youth Resource Centre continues its outreach programming. Visit for more details.


Get inspired to make art with adult, youth and children’s art-making workshops and courses in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre. Taking cues from Early Rubens,some of the AGO’s courses this season will look at the philosophy behind beauty, focusing on the depiction of the human form. Courses offer everything from life drawing and photography to courses that explore mythology and contemporary representation. More information and course schedules are available at   

Several programs are open to the public free of charge. Surcharged events feature discounts for AGO Members. Unlimited admission to the AGO is $35 for an entire year with the AGO Annual Pass, and is free for visitors 25 and under.

Talks, Screenings and Performances are generously supported by:

Lead Sponsor                        TD Bank Group through The Ready Commitment

Experience Sponsor               Warner Bros.’ The Goldfinch


Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 5.9 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO Collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. Its 585,000 square foot building was most recently expanded in 2008 by Frank Gehry, and attracts approximately one million visits per year. A new pricing model, launching May 25, 2019, offers all visitors 25 and under free, unlimited admission; a $35 Annual Pass includes entry for an entire year. Visit to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.


TD has a long-standing commitment to enriching the lives of its customers, colleagues and communities. As part of its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment, TD is targeting CDN $1 billion (US $775 million) in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas critical to opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow – Financial Security, Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through The Ready Commitment, TD aspires to link its business, philanthropy and human capital to help people feel more confident - not just about their finances, but also in their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. For further information, visit

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