Explore Your Inner Calm This Winter: The Serenity Experience In Riverside As Part of ArtworxTO


Toronto, January 25, 2021- As part of ArtworxTO, Toronto artist Jessica Lin’s The Serenity Experience in Riverside aims to bring calm and spark joy during these challenging times this winter.

This immersive public art exhibit enables everyone to experience ten illuminated window installations hosted by local businesses within the Riverside Business Improvement Area (BIA) along Queen Street East between Davies Ave and De Grassi Street.

The artwork explores the question of what triggers our brain to feel calmness and happiness, and suggests ideas as to how we can deliberately harness this to increase our sense of personal well being.

Each window installation is unique and together the ten locations form the full Serenity Experience in Riverside. They can be experienced nightly from dusk to midnight until mid-March, as well as through full online audio and visual components accessible anytime, including: soothing sounds, virtual tours, Instagram Live happiness talks, an online scavenger hunt for local prizes, and more.

“Riverside BIA is proud to be a huge supporter of local artists. This project is very timely in bringing light and positivity at a time when our local businesses are in need of much community support and hope. As the Serenity Experience Happiness Tip on my business window says, I highly encourage everyone to ‘ Vote with your dollars and support small businesses – you have the power to shape the future of your neighbourhood!’ ,” says Riverside BIA Chair, Mitch Korman.

“The Serenity Experience” started as an experiment on myself, to see if I could intentionally shift my experience of reality, and consequently, shift my reality itself. What started off as a small 8’x5’ multisensory hut has now grown to about 127 linear feet of window space along a roughly 450m stretch of Queen St East, and almost two months of connected activities and multi-media content – thanks to the passion of the Riverside BIA and the ArtworxTO initiative. I’m very excited to be part of this, and can’t wait to see what magic occurs over the next couple of months!” – Toronto artist Jessica Lin.

“As part of Toronto’s Year of Public Art, the City is pleased to support these stunning art installations in Riverside which include such positive messages. They help showcase a local Toronto artist while supporting our small businesses through these challenging times,” says Councillor Paula Fletcher, Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth.

The virtual Serenity Experience in Riverside is available at: www.riverside-to.com/the-serenity-experience/

 The live experience is viewable in local business windows along Queen Street East until mid-March, 2021. The full map of locations and resources is available here: https://tinyurl.com/SerenityRiverside

 The Scavenger Hunt is accessible by downloading the GooseChase app on any smart phone, looking up The Serenity Experience and entering game code GZK46X. The game includes fun missions to gain points toward prizes for gift cards from local Riverside restaurants and retailers.

 Thanks to the key partners who supported this project: the City of Toronto’s ArtworxTO program, Riverside BIA, and Toronto artist Jessica Lin.  Thank you also to all the local businesses who have lent their window space in support of public art.

List of Participating Businesses and Locations in Riverside

Darkhorse Espresso – 630 Queen Street East

Album Hair – 639 Queen Street East

Oma Chiropractic & Wellness – 4 Munro Street

Eastbound Brewing Co – 700 Queen Street East

Korman & Co – 721 Queen Street East

Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery – 732 Queen Street East

Dresden Vision – 733 Queen Street East

The Opera House Grill – 737 Queen Street East

Common Sort – 760 Queen Street East

Untitled by Flaunt Boutique – 792 Queen Street East

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Common Sort

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Common Sort

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Korman and Co

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Korman and Co

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Korman and Co (close up)

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Korman and Co (close up)

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Untitled by Flaunt Boutique (view of projection at background)

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at Untitled by Flaunt Boutique (view of projection at background)

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at The Opera House Grill (view of projection)

The Serenity Experience in Riverside at The Opera House Grill (view of projection at background)


Media Contacts

Jennifer Lay, Riverside BIA Executive Director, office@riverside-to.com, 416-466-8167

Jessica Lin, Artist, photo@jessicalin.ca

About the Artist – Jessica Lin



Jessica Lin is a Toronto-based photographer and artist with a love of travel and adventure. Known for her abstract landscape artwork, Jessica pulls elements from her various photographs and recomposes to create a new, unseen world. Throughout these pieces, the cycles of nature and the interconnectedness of everything (and everyone) are strong themes. Jessica’s #TheSerenityExperience is an experimental installation inspired by one of her 2D artworks (entitled “Serenity”), and incorporating other elements to engage the senses. Jessica’s aim is to bring this piece to life for viewers to experience a deeper and more complete sense of calmness and connectedness. By sharing their reactions using #TheSerenityExperience hashtag, viewers become active participants in and contributors to the experience.

About the Riverside BIA



The Riverside Business Improvement Area (BIA), established in 1980, is one of the first BIAs in Canada.  The Riverside BIA is a community-oriented not-for-profit association of local business people, organizations and property owners who work in partnership with the City of Toronto to enhance the Riverside business district, located along Toronto’s Queen Street East from the DVP to Empire Avenue. The BIA’s mandate is to improve, beautify and promote Riverside district through marketing, public programming and streetscape improvements.    

The Opera House Has Pivoted to Become The Hub in Toronto

The Hub in Toronto is latest way that The Opera House, an iconic venue in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, has reinvented itself. THE HUB is a full broadcast + content capture studio at the Opera House.

Over 125 years of history of the venue has seen many iterations and changes with the times.

This pandemic has hit pretty hard:

“We haven’t had a show come through The Opera House since March 2020. While we likely won’t see the return of live events until summer 2021, we are looking forward to welcoming new, and familiar faces back into our house through the launch of @thehubintoronto. This is a great opportunity for the arts and entertainment community here in Ontario.” – Athena Ellinas-Towers, General Manager

Athena Ellinas-Towers at the Opera House - The Hub in Toronto

Athena Ellinas-Towers at the Opera House – and now The Hub in Toronto

THE HUB is a full broadcast + content capture studio at the Opera House.

Lemmon Entertainment, in partnership with PRG, the world’s leading provider of services and solutions in entertainment and events, and the Opera House are proud to partner to present THE HUB. This space is a multi-faceted solution for all areas of the Creative, Entertainment and Corporate spheres.

THE HUB offers a low risk, high value, full-service approach that is designed to support all levels of innovation.  Concerts, keynote speeches, product launches, comedy shows, information sessions and content capture are just a few of the flexible options that this venue can provide.

Need support hosting a concert or live streamed event? @thehubintoronto has all of the assets you need. They’re equipped with top of the line audio, lighting, visuals, and a team with deep industry knowledge. Check out the website in their bio to see how the team can elevate your organization for entertainment-based projects & brand growth. #thehubintoronto

The Opera House = The Hub in Toronto

Looking Back at Riverside BIA Accomplishments of 2020 to Help Us Move Forward in 2021

A message from Riverside BIA Executive Director, Jennifer Lay:

YES, this has been A YEAR…..BUT this past year has reinforced the perseverance, ingenuity, kindness, caring and resilience of everyone in this business community. I’ve appreciated working more closely albeit mostly virtually, with many of you and getting to know you better.

While we could not do our usual annual roster of event-based programming, when the pandemic hit and the shutdown was ordered, the Riverside BIA virtual office and operations did not shut down, even for a day, and we responded immediately to start supporting you through information updates, one-to-one support, enhanced online presence to share your updates, ‘support local’ campaigns, and many innovative virtual events, fundraising efforts, and offerings.

One initiative our Marketing Committee came up with is these Open signs – featured in BlogTO and emulated by BIAs across Toronto – to help let people know, at a glance, what’s Open during COVID. This was very helpful as a promotional tool during the major shutdown and as reopenings happened, and can still be seen on the street today.

Our Board also decided to support our members directly with PPE kits of supplies, and a link to preferred pricing with suppliers of locally-made PPE. We’ve given out 60 such kits and if you need a kit or a contact, just get in touch.

I can attest, advocacy can work and it is really about bringing our concerns, needs and good ideas forward to our elected officials to help inform critical policies and programs. The BIA has been doing this throughout the pandemic and will keep doing this proactively and in response to government announcements. We have done more of this in the past 6 months than ever in our history and will keep it up. It has produced results.

During 2020 we also ramped up our streetscape programs, including enhanced Weekly graffiti removal services thanks to our awesome service provider Wipeout, neighbourhood beautification, and litter collection. Did you know that we have a cigarette butt collection program? Our street maintenance manager Drew has collected nearly 100,000 units since 2015 that have been recycled.

We also implemented some special streetscape projects this year. Thanks to East End Arts and an Outdoor Mural grant from the City of Toronto we participated in the Girls Mural Camp 2020, here in Riverside. Girls Mural Camp is an opportunity for youth who identify as girls, young women, female or non-binary to explore the history and practice of street art, and to co-create a large street mural together. Girls worked with established mural artists Bareket Kezwer and Monica Wickeler. Their piece on the back of 4 Munro Street, explores their growth and journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the question, “When everything stops, what keeps going?”


We also had the privilege of participating in the iheART Mainstreet Art Challenge, thanks to a partnership with the Steps Initiative, RBC, and Toronto artists, Riverside business, and local story tellers. We implemented the ‘Humans of Riverside’ series: this project not only supported the Goal of Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC individuals, but added incredible public art to storefront windows. I am pleased to share that among all the participating BIAs, Riverside won the challenge prize and we will be putting this prize toward our Window Wonderland contest in Riverside, stay tuned for details on how to take part and get your window designed and installed by a local artist!


A key program the BIA worked extremely hard on was outdoor patios in partnership with the City’s CafeTO Team. Riverside BIA was among the first two BIAs to launch the CafeTO program on July 1 with Mayor Tory and Councillor Fletcher at Eastbound. Most of our 20+ CafeTO member operators benefitted from about 20 weeks of the program. I want to emphasize this would not have been possible without the support of the City, and want to applaud this incredible economic support program. We look forward to working with our members to navigate outdoor dining as part of the Winter CafeTO program, and bring back the full CafeTO program, new and improved in 2021.

Shifting gears, as part of our efforts to promote Riverside digitally, we’ve created the Riverside Online Marketplace using Shopify, thanks to a grant from the City of Toronto BIA Innovation Fund. This is focused on helping promote members with online products and/or services of which there are more and more every day thanks to partnerships like Digital Main Street, ShopHere and ToGo Toronto.

As part of this grant we have been testing a number of virtual events. Our very first was Riverside Eats, in collaboration with local chefs, which doubled as a fundraiser for the local food program at Mustard Seed, Fontbonne Ministries. Just last week, we hosted our Riverside HOWL-O-WEEN virtually in collaboration with all our community partners. Our Riverside Public Art Tour was a hit and lastly, our virtual Riverside Antler Breakfast was the most successful yet (more on this below!!).  We used these experiences to create a toolkit for all Toronto BIAs to learn how to do this. Again, big thanks to the City for making this possible.

And we could not forget, it’s our BIA’s 40th anniversary year. We launched the Riverside 40 years, 40 stories series to tell the stories that make this neighbourhood special. From the story of how the BIA began with a small group of dedicated business owners, sitting around a kitchen table at night, to big projects like the Riverside bridge lighting and stories from local business members like George the Barber who has been here longer than the BIA itself. This story telling series is powerful and meaningful. We’re now nearly half-way through and would welcome you to submit a story to share.

This year’s Riverside Window Wonderland was a collaboration coming out of the Steps Initiative and RBC IheART Main Street Art Challenge!  As the winner of the Community-Engaged winner, Riverside BIA used resources to expand our placemaking initiatives to showcase community pride, collaborate with more artists and businesses in this year’s edition of Window Wonderland. Click to see all the designs and find out who won this year’s contest!

We capped off the year demonstrating a virtual coming together like never before by raising $12,784 for the Rivertowne Breakfast Program through the 9th Annual (1st virtual) Riverside Antler Breakfast. THANK YOU to all the sponsors, donors, supporters and organizers and the outpouring of support from the community.

Here’s to a brighter 2021 of working together on big and little initiatives in the Riverside BIA – Bring it ON!!

That’s A Wrap for the 9th Annual Riverside Antler Breakfast! Thank You Supporters!

The 9th Annual Riverside Antler Breakfast (first held virtually!) was a huge success! Organized by the Riverside BIA, Chef Scott Savoie, Ralph Thornton Community Centre and Rivertowne Safety 1st, the event raised funds for the year-round operation of the Rivertowne Breakfast Program.

The outpouring of support this year was truly phenomenal, and the $12,748 raised in sponsorship and donations will fund the program through 2021!


Big thanks to our sponsors:

Our sponsors this year included: Santa sponsor Outline Financial; our Santa’s Helper sponsors: Tertulia, Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP, Streetcar Developments and J & C Toronto Real Estate Group; our Reindeer sponsors included: Oma Chiropractic and Wellness, Quince Flowers and Dimensions Custom Framing and Gallery; and our Elf sponsors included: the Irish Design House and MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth).

Also thank you to our Auction donors: Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine Gift Card, HeadshotsTO, MP Julie Dabrusin, Quince Flowers, Dresden Vision, Dirty Pawz Dog Wash, and Queen Garden Centre.

Now in its 9th year, the Riverside Antler Breakfast raised funds in support of the year-round operation of the local Rivertowne Breakfast Program. While we couldn’t get together this year, supporters experienced the fun of the in-person event virtually, on December 12th, 2020.

No Fixed Address Launches Local Gift Tags Fundraiser to Support Riverside Businesses

Local business No Fixed Address Inc. is giving back to their home based this holiday season! Located at the East Room in Riverside, they’ve created a unique fundraiser selling gift tags for a good cause:

“We created what might be the world’s most expensive gift tags. Why? This year has been tough on all of us, and even tougher on small businesses. So we’re asking you drop some big bills on these custom gift tags, so small businesses can pay theirs. If you shopped local, thanks for giving a little extra. And if you couldn’t, what a great way to spend big to help us save small. Perfectly priced at $20.20 each with all proceeds going to the Riverside BIA.”

Visit shoplocalsavelocal.ca learn more about supporting local and get your tag!