Canada lost one of its most inspirational arts administrators and visionaries today with the sudden and unexpected death of Richard Bradshaw, the leader of the Canadian Opera Company.
Toronto in the 1980's was drifting in terms of its physical development. Rather than being viewed as a part of building a stronger city, investment in much needed arts infrastructure was pitted against investmest in much needed social infrastructure. This culminated in the cancellation of the proposed ballet-opera house at the corner of Bay and Gerard. As a final slap a condominium development was eventually built at the site -- Opera Place.
Richard Bradshaw did not give up. He persisted in advocating for the development of a new opera house and in doing so made the case for the development of Toronto's civic arts infrastructure generally. The rebuilding of the National Ballet School, the Royal Ontario Museum and the AGO all owe a debt to Bradshaw for creating a vision of a city with room for places of beauty. In doing so, I believe, he also has strengthened the feeling that Toronto is a city to be proud of and to fight for -- something that will help ensure that the investment in social infrasctruture that needs to continue will be made.