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Our Story

This remarkable landmark and iconic building opened on October 1, 1960 as The O’Keefe Centre. The architecture partnership between Forsey Page and Harland Steele, along with Architect Peter Dickinson put Toronto on the cultural map with this unique venue.  Built in the Mid-Century Modern style, the Centre features the largest soft-seat auditorium in Canada and unobstructed sightlines of the stage. The extensive use of bronze trim, cladding, and doors, and the use of Carrarra marble throughout the main lobby imparts a sense of grand opulence to the Centre, as does artist York Wilson’s famous mural, The Seven Lively Arts.   

Amid much fanfare the gala opening of the Centre in 1960 was the worldwide premiere of the Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot starring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet in his breakthrough role. It was the start of a new level of culture, entertainment and sense of community in Toronto.

Drama, intrigue and daring exploits have not been contained to artistic productions and stage performances. Perhaps most famously, Russian ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov defected from the USSR from this very stage in June 1974.

In 1996, the theatre was re-named The Hummingbird Centre, and in 2007 the theatre closed for major renovations, reopening as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on the Centre’s 50th birthday: October 1, 2010.

Since its inception, we have presented and hosted countless renowned musicians and bands, dance companies, comedy acts, family programs, films with live orchestra, international performers, award shows and special events.

We hold our artistic heritage close to our hearts. Our mission to entertain, educate and unite world citizens through great artistic experiences remains undiminished. Our global reach and our inspired programming is clear evidence of our role in establishing Toronto as the most culturally inclusive city in the world. This iconic venue was, and still is, the venue, where people go for a ‘big night out’.

We acknowledge this sacred land on which the Sony Centre operates. It has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and Confederacy of the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this territory.

Please join us in embracing and celebrating the cultures of the world through experiencing live entertainment at the Sony Centre.