Arts student brings her skill and Scarborough pride to Nuit Blanche

Kali Banner
Kali Banner, a fourth-year arts management and arts history student, brought her passion for the Scarborough story to her role as the curational assistant for Nuit Blanche's east-end debut. (Photo by Tina Adamopoulos)

Tina Adamopoulos

Kali Banner had been working as the artistic director at U of T Scarborough’s ARTSIDEOUT  festival when she first heard rumours about Nuit Blanche potentially coming to Scarborough.

Now, the fourth-year arts management and arts history student finds herself in the role of curatorial assistant for the Scarborough exhibit, a position she’s held since June.

Being a part of planning Nuit Blanche’s inaugural visit to Scarborough was not only an opportunity to showcase and develop her skills in art curation, but also a chance to give the east-end some justice in the art scene.

“People think that Scarborough is silenced and uncreative,” says Banner. “But, we’ve always had a voice. We’ve always been creative. It’s just now the rest of the city is invited to explore and participate in our creative spaces.”

Kali BannerNuit Blanche’s STYLL exhibition will take place between Scarborough Town Centre and the Scarborough Civic Centre. Most of the works of art was made by, or in collaboration, with a  Scarborough native. In addition, there will be five projects displayed throughout various Scarborough Rapid Transit stations.

 “I like how STYLL is breaking those barriers between Scarborough and the rest of the city.” The making of the 10-project exhibition comes the responsibility of being “accountable and responsive” to the community you are representing. It’s something Banner is deeply invested in.

In one installation called ‘Everything I Wanted to Tell You,’ artist Hiba Abdallah took fragments of conversations from a group of intergenerational residents about different sites in Scarborough and will be projecting them against the Scarborough Civic Centre on Saturday night. ‘this intentional engulfing of the Scarborough Civic Centre with the voices of community members is really what community-centred art is all about.” Banner says.

Another favourite project is a panel discussion called Sincerely, Scarborough. Banner helped shape the panel discussions, which allowed her to “deeply research into the lives and careers of the artists and think of different questions relate back to Scarborough.”

“I’ve always had a passion for the arts.”

Banner has always been surrounded by the arts (one parent is a musician, and the other a visual artist). She also feels that curation and displaying an artist’s work is in many ways an art in itself

Before coming to U of T Scarborough, she was attending school in Vancouver for business and art history. Not completely satisfied with her program, Banner searched online for the perfect place to combine her love of art history and management.

“I applied to U of T Scarborough on a whim because I didn’t have intentions of moving out to Toronto,” she says. “I knew that I had a passion for arts management, but I didn’t know how to gain that skill-set.”

Upon her arrival, she wanted to integrate herself into the community and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. In her early university career, Banner worked in the Doris McCarthy Gallery and went on to act as the programming lead for the Arts, Culture, and Media Student Association, communications director for CounterPose, and artistic director of ARTSIDEOUT.

Now, her time in the arts at U of T Scarborough has prepared her for a dream job.

“Working for Nuit Blanche was definitely a goal I wanted to achieve in my career,” Banner says. “I just didn’t think that it would happen so fast!”

READ MORE: Artists connect Scarborough and downtown Toronto with sound installation