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AGO Creative Minds

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A series of provocative conversations presented by Jonas & Lynda Prince

Upcoming Event



Watch the event livestream below

Monday December 3, 8 pm
Koerner Hall
$24.50 - $79.50

Tickets On Sale:
October 16, 2018 at 10 am

Limit of 4 tickets per transaction
To complete purchase, set up an account on the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Ticketing Site

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Attorney, Activist

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Jennifer Baichwal

Documentary Filmmaker

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Brian Jungen


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Tanya Talaga

Author, Journalist

As artists grapple with the implications of our current geological epoch, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change – we invite them to enter into conversation around humanity’s massive and destructive reengineering of the planet. Join us on December 3, 2018 for another edition of AGO Creative Minds as creative thinkers take the stage to discuss how best to demonstrate and bridge the gap between knowledge and action. From pipeline blockades to poetic meditations on melting icebergs, artists are consumed with a sense of urgency around climate and have a vast toolbox of tactics to incite social and political change. For many, passively waiting for the future to be better is not a strategy — and it is not an option. How can art be a catalyst for change?

The event will unfold over 90 minutes, opening with a live performance by Martha Wainwright before moving into the discussion.

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Duncan McCue


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Martha Wainwright

Musical Performer

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an American environmental attorney, author, activist, clean technology entrepreneur and radio host. He is an Irish American, son of the New York Senator and former Attorney General Robert Francis Kennedy and the nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy serves as Senior Attorney and President of Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit focused on grassroots efforts to preserve and protect waterways worldwide. He is an environmental law specialist and partner at the law firm of Morgan and Morgan. Kennedy was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Agents of Change.” Kennedy is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Law at Pace University Law School in White Plains, New York.
Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for over 20 years. Her films have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally, including an International Emmy, 3 Gemini Awards, and Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, for features such as Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles, The Holier It Gets, Act of God, and Payback. Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. The feature documentary Watermark premiered at TIFF 2013, and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch premiered at TIFF 2018 and is in theatres now.
Brian Jungen lives and works in the North Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada. He draws from his family’s ranching and hunting background, as well as his Dane-zaa heritage, when disassembling and recombining consumer goods into sculptures. Solo exhibitions include Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2016); Kunstverein Hannover (2013); Bonner Kunstverein (2013); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); Strange Comfort, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC (2009); Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2007); Tate Modern, London (2006); Vancouver Art Gallery (2006); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006); and the New Museum, New York (2005). Modest Livelihood, a collaborative work with Duane Linklater, has been shown at the Edinburgh Art Festival (2014); Art Gallery of Ontario (2013); and the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, in collaboration with dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Liverpool Biennial (2018); Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville (2018); and Unsettled, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2017).
Tanya Talaga is the acclaimed author of Seven Fallen Feathers, which was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult. The book was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction, and it was CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, and a national bestseller. For more than twenty years she has been a journalist at the Toronto Star, and has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism. She was also named the 2017–2018 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy. Talaga is of Polish and Indigenous descent. Her great-grandmother, Liz Gauthier, was a residential school survivor. Her great-grandfather, Russell Bowen, was an Ojibwe trapper and labourer. Her grandmother is a member of Fort William First Nation. Her mother was raised in Raith and Graham, Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her two teenage children.
Martha Wainwright is a beguiling performer and a refreshingly different force in music. With an undeniable voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Wainwright released her debut LP, Martha Wainwright to critical acclaim in 2005. In 2008, she followed with her sophomore album, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, which showed her great musical maturity and talent as a songwriter. In 2010 she toured the world promoting her third album, San Fusils, Ni Souliers A Paris: Martha Wainwright’s Piaf Record. Her 2012 album, Come Home To Mama, was heralded by Mojo Magazine as a “substantial and brilliantly sung career best.” Her last album, Goodnight City returned to the rawness of her first release and includes songs by Wainwright, as well as songs written by Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, her brother Rufus Wainwright, Michael Ondaatje, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Martha tours her music around the world to sold out audiences on several continents.
Duncan McCue is the host of Cross Country Checkup on CBC Radio One and was a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for over 15 years. Now based in Toronto, his news and current affairs pieces continue to be featured on CBC’s flagship news show, The National. McCue's work has garnered several RTNDA and Jack Webster Awards. In 2017, he was presented with an Indspire Award for Public Service. McCue teaches journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and Ryerson University, and was recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. His book The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir recounts a season he spent in a hunting camp with a Cree family in northern Quebec as a teenager.


CREATIVE MINDS is landmark series of events that bring together visionary artists to discuss their work and the urgent social, political and cultural issues of our time. Leading Canadian cultural institutions—the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Banff Centre and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—have come together to create this initiative with the support of Series Presenters Jonas & Lynda Prince, whose leadership inspired the development of the project. Each event features exceptional artists from diverse disciplines brought together to discuss a timely contemporary issue through the lens of their art and life experience. The conversations will be moderated by a leading journalist and each event opens with a musical performance. The events will be streamed online and broadcast on radio by CBC, giving audiences across Canada an opportunity to hear what the artists have to say. Creative Minds builds a platform for artists to share their unique perspectives on defining issues, showcasing the power of art and artists to reflect upon our times and shape our future.


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Past Events


Watch the first event on demand

September 20, 2016
Massey Hall

Creative Minds launched with a sold-out conversation about one of today's most urgent issues: social justice and the political and cultural barriers to inclusion and equality.

As movements such as #IdleNoMore and #BlackLivesMatter gain momentum in Canada and around the world, how do we address systemic oppression? And what is required for true reconciliation and real progress?

Opening with a special performance by critically acclaimed soprano Measha Brueggergosman and moderated by CBC Metro Morning host Matt Galloway, the series launch unfolded with a discussion about each artist’s relationship to activism, resistance and reconciliation through the lens of their work and life experiences.

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Musician/ Artist

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Matt Galloway


Measha Brueggergosman

Musical Performer

André Alexis is an acclaimed novelist, playwright and librettist. Born in Trinidad and raised in Canada, he has been the recipient of several significant Canadian literary awards. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Pastoral (nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize), Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa and Lambton, Kent and Other Vistas: A Play.
Buffy Sainte-Marie is an award-winning musician, songwriter, activist, educator, and visual artist whose audacious attitude to life on and off the stage has inspired people around the world for over four decades. She is known for her 1960s protest anthems (“Universal Soldier”), open-hearted love songs (“Until It’s Time for You to Go”), incendiary powwow rock (“Starwalker”), and the Academy Award–winning song “Up Where We Belong,” which Sainte-Marie co-wrote for the film An Officer and a Gentleman. One of the most compelling artists of our time, she combines a high-energy stage presence with cerebral songs that tell powerful stories.
Deepa Mehta is an Academy Award-nominated transnational filmmaker whose films have played major film festivals around the globe. Acclaimed as daring, fearless and provocative, her work challenges traditions and stereotypes. She is best known for her Elements Trilogy of Fire, Earth, and Water, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Her other directing credits include Bollywood/Hollywood, Heaven on Earth, Midnight’s Children, the epic adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s three-time Booker Prize–winning novel, and her latest film, Beeba Boys, a tough, stylish gangster film.
Rebecca Belmore is a Montreal-based multi­disciplinary artist and a member of the Lac Seul First Nation at Frenchman's Head, Ontario. In 2013 she won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. She gained international acclaim at the 2005 Venice Biennale’s Canadian Pavilion where she was the first Indigenous woman to represent Canada. Belmore has exhibited and performed internationally and nationally since 1987. She won the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation’s prestigious VIVA Award 2004 and the 2009 Hnatyshyn Visual Arts Award. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and many others.
Matt Galloway is the host of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One, 99.1 FM, and the host of Podcast Playlist on CBC Radio One. He has anchored CBC Radio's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics live from Beijing, and the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2012, he was given the Excellence In Community Service Award for addressing issues confronting diverse communities by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, and in 2013, received the Award for Diversity and Social Inclusion by the Tagore Anniversary Celebrations Committee of Toronto. In 2015, Toronto Life Magazine named him one of Toronto's top 15 most influential people, and he also received the African Canadian Achievement Award for excellence in Media.
Measha Brueggergosman is an award-winning Canadian soprano who is recognized around the world for her spectacular voice and innate musicianship. She has shared the stage with the likes of Bill Gates and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and given performances for Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Queen Elizabeth II. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, 3.2 billion television viewers from across the globe witnessed her singing during the Opening Ceremonies. Her musical range encompasses everything from gospel hymns and jazz standards to classical music. She is also Canadian good-will ambassador for African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Learning Through the Arts and the World Wildlife Fun (WWF).
IMAGE CREDITS: André Alexis photo by Hannah Zoe Davison, Buffy Sainte-Marie photo by Matt Barnes, Deepa Mehta photo by Mark Peckmezian, Rebecca Belmore photo by Martin Lipman, Matt Galloway courtesy CBC.


Watch the event on demand

Friday April 21, 2017
Massey Hall
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Sir David


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Matt Galloway



Musical Performer

Sir David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation. Based in London, U.K., Adjaye was born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents and his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. Since forming Adjaye Associates in 2000, he has won several prestigious commissions, including the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo (2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007), and the forthcoming new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2009 a team led by Adjaye was selected to design the new $360 million Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington DC., which opened in September 2016 to universal praise. Adjaye frequently collaborates with contemporary artists on art and installation projects, including Chris Ofili and Olafur Eliasson. In 2015 a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work to date was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist and author whose ancestry originates from the Métis historic community of Manitou Sakhigan (Lac Ste. Anne) Alberta, Canada. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Art Gallery of Ontario, where in 2015 her painting The Wisdom of the Universe was voted by gallery visitors as “People’s Choice”, their favourite work in the collection. She is the co-founder of Walking with our Sisters, a touring memorial project that honours the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada and the United States. In 2015, her work gained international recognition when she a collaborated with the fashion house Valentino to create a collection that featured prints based on her work Water Song. In 2016, she received a Governor General’s Innovation Award for her work to raise awareness about Indigenous issues in Canada.
Junot Díaz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has centred the American immigrant experience in his work. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, he is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the recipient of the Ella Baker Award from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, recognizing writers for work that advances social justice.
Paul Gross is one of Canada’s most popular actors on stage and screen, internationally known for his role as Constable Benton Fraser on the award-winning drama series Due South. Gross wrote, directed and starred in the films Hyena Road, Passchendaele and Men with Brooms, which was the highest-grossing English-language Canadian film of the previous 20 years. Passchendaele was the highest grossing Canadian film of 2008 and won five Genie Awards, including Best Picture. He has won multiple Gemini awards for his performances, including two for the critically acclaimed series Slings & Arrows. A recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and the Earle Grey Award, a lifetime achievement honour from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Gross was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2013.
Matt Galloway is the host of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One, 99.1 FM, and the co-host of Podcast Playlist on CBC Radio One. He anchored CBC Radio's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics live from Beijing, and the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2012, he was given the Excellence In Community Service Award for addressing issues confronting diverse communities by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, and in 2013 received the Award for Diversity and Social Inclusion by the Tagore Anniversary Celebrations Committee of Toronto. Toronto Life Magazine named him one of the city’s most influential people in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and he also received the African Canadian Achievement Award for excellence in Media.
Whitehorse is the Toronto-born, JUNO-winning folk-rock duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Their debut full-length album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, was shortlisted for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. Their follow up, Leave No Bridge Unburned, won the 2016 JUNO for Alternative Album of the Year. Their newest release, The Northern South Vol. 1, finds the duo expanding their musical range further into psychedelic-tinged blues rock. They’ve toured across Canada and internationally and are renowned for their live show, which shows off Doucet’s incredible guitar skills and McClelland’s powerhouse voice.
IMAGE CREDITS: Sir David Adjaye photo by Alex Fradkin, Christi Belcourt photo by David Barbour, Junot Díaz photo by Nina Subin, Matt Galloway courtesy CBC.


Watch the event on demand

Wednesday April 4, 2018
Massey Hall
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Salman Rushdie


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Andrea Fraser


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Charles Officer


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What is the meaning of “truth” in this era of fake news, pseudo-science, conspiracy theories and intellectual polarization? Do artists have a role in discerning the truth? Can they speak with authority? Can their work shift the moral compass for evaluating right and wrong? How can art reveal uncomfortable truths? How can art reveal dishonesty?

Join us on April 4, 2018 for another edition of AGO Creative Minds at Massey Hall as four artists take to the stage to debate the role of art in distinguishing right from wrong, and to consider how notions of truth are related to broader social, economic, political and intellectual forces.

Following a live musical performance, the conversation will begin with a brief exploration of each artist’s engagement with ideas of truth, before opening up to discuss the perils and pitfalls of what it means to speak with authority, with all the risks that it entails.

The event will unfold over 90 minutes, opening with a live performance by JUNO nominated musician Iskwé before moving into the discussion.

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Anna Maria Tremonti


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Musical Performer

Salman Rushdie is the award-winning author of thirteen novels— including Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and The Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, Fury, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, and his newest novel, The Golden House. He has also published a book of stories, East, West, and four works of nonfiction—Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line—and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. His books have been translated into over forty languages. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN America, Rushdie holds the rank of Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres – France’s highest artistic honour, and was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.
Andrea Fraser is one of the most provocative and influential artists of her generation. Fraser’s work spans performance, video, and a range of other mediums and appears both as a social critique and an ethical investigation. Fraser famously posed the question of whether art is, metaphorically, prostitution by having sex with a collector on camera in Untitled (2003). Her site-specific project Down the River for the Whitney Museum of American Art, used audio recorded at Sing Sing prison to bridge the social, cultural, and geographic divide separating museums from correctional facilities.
Surveys of her work have been presented at museums around the world, and her books include the forthcoming 2016 in Museums, Money, and Politics; Andrea Fraser: Works 1984-2003; Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser; Texts, Scripts, Transcripts; and Andrea Fraser. Fraser is Department Chair and Professor, Interdisciplinary Studio in the Department of Art at UCLA.
Charles Officer’s filmmaking career began with a slate of award-winning short films that premiered at international film festivals around the world. He is an alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre Director Residency where his debut fiction feature Nurse.Fighter.Boy was produced. The film premiered at TIFF ’08 and earned 10 Genie Nominations. Charles followed with his first feature documentary Mighty Jerome that won 4 Leo Awards in 2011 and a 2012 Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary.

Officer directed Stone Thrower: The Chuck Ealey Story for the documentary series Engraved On A Nation (2014 CSA for best documentary series). CBC Firsthand commissioned The Skin We’re In, featuring journalist and activist Desmond Cole in 2017. His latest feature documentary, Unarmed Verses premiered in 2017 and won Best Canadian Feature Awards at Hot Docs, VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival) and the People’s Choice Award at 2018 TIFF Top Ten Canadian Film Festival.

Charles recently completed directing multiple episodes of the dramatic series 21 Thunder, premiering internationally on Netflix in 2018. He is currently in post-production with Invisible Essence: Le Petit Prince, a feature documentary based on the international bestselling novella. Projects in development are the feature crime drama Akilla’s Escape, and a limited-series adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s novel Son of a Smaller Hero.
Iskwé bridging of cross-cultural aesthetics while exploring her own struggle to both fit into and breakaway from modern Western archetypes has been an important part of her artistic vision since the release of her WCMA nominated self-titled debut album in late 2013. Her debut single “Nobody Knows,” produced by Juno Award nominees The Darcys and featured in the Netflix series Between, captivated audiences by turning a stark spotlight on the more than 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women here in Canada.

Unafraid to challenge the convictions of her detractors by honouring her heritage, standing steadfast in her viewpoints, Iskwé’s artistry knows no bounds. Blending soulful, breathlessly delivered lyrics coloured by the many shades of human nature with a sonic palette that takes its cue from the shadowy atmospherics of the 1990s Bristol sound, Iskwé’s music revels in her strength of self and that is her true rallying cry.

Iskwé recently garnered a win at the 2017 West Coast Music Awards (WCMA) for Electronic/Dance Artist of the Year and was announced as a judge for CBC Music’s 2017 Canadian Music Class Challenge, in association with Musicounts.
Anna Maria Tremonti has been the host of CBC Radio One’s The Current since it first burst onto the airwaves in November of 2002. The Current marked her return to radio after 19 years with CBC Television, including two years as a host of the flagship investigative program the fifth estate and nine years as a foreign correspondent for The National. Tremonti has won two Gemini awards, and a life Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television Toronto. During her time at The Current, she and the program have won numerous awards at the New York Festivals, including: Gold for Best News Documentary of Special (2013) and Gold for Best Talk Special: Interview (2009). With Tremonti at the helm, The Current in 2012 also won the Canadian Journalism Foundation's Excellence in Journalism Award (Large Media Category), and was a finalist for that top honour in 2013.
IMAGE CREDITS: Salman Rushdie photo by Beowulf Sheehan, Andrea Fraser photo courtesy Andrea Fraser, Charles Officer photo by Justin Morris, Iskwé photo by Lisa MacIntosh, Anna Maria Tremonti courtesy CBC.