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Scotiabank Nuit Blanche generates $39.5-million for Toronto

A woman takes a photograph from within a sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei called Forever Bicycles in Toronto on Oct. 17, 2013. The sculpture, consisting of 3,144 identical bicycles, was part of the Nuit Blanche event.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

The City of Toronto has announced that all-night arts festival Scotiabank Nuit Blanche had an economic impact of $39.5-million this year.

The Oct. 5 event sprawled across the city with exhibits on local streets and at museums, galleries and public buildings. Highlights included a massive tower of chairs outside the Metropolitan United Church by artist Tadashi Kawamata and a sculpture made of bikes from Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei at Nathan Phillips Square.

According to an Ipsos Reid survey, the event topped last year's economic impact of $38-million and smashed previous attendance records by attracting more than one million people including 190,000 out-of-town visitors.

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"Scotiabank Nuit Blanche continues to put a spotlight on Toronto's contemporary art scene, with more tourists attending each year," said Mike Williams, the city's general manager of economic development and culture, in a press release. "It is excellent to see what a positive impact this popular event has on our great city both culturally and economically."

Since 2006, Nuit Blanche has featured more than 950 official art installations and has generated more than $177-million for Toronto.

John Notten, a Toronto teacher and four-time exhibitor, said he's proud of the way the event has grown since the first time he showed his work at Nuit Blanche.

He says now when he tells his students about the event they all know about it.

"It's not some sort of obscure, elitist outing for art snobs," he says. "It's accessible to all people of all different ages who want to experience energy around art."

Toronto artist Christine Kim showed her origami sculpture featuring about 6,000 paper helmets that were handed out to spectators at Nuit Blanche. She says since the event, messages have been trickling in from spectators who took their paper helmets to work or used them in Halloween costumes.

She is glad the event has had such a positive economic impact on the city and other exhibitors.

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"It's heartwarming to hear that and for artists to have this kind of stage to showcase their work in a city that supports and encourages art," she says.

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