Luminato 2016 at the Hearn Generating Station

In the 20th century the Hearn Generating Station produced electricity. In the 21st century, it will produce art (well, at least next June).

Nov 19, 2015

The 2016 Luminato Festival marks our 10th anniversary – my fifth and final Festival and CEO Anthony Sargent’s first. Next year we’re creating something truly special to celebrate all the creativity and inventiveness of the city that gave birth to Luminato – something that will have a lasting impact in Toronto - a city becoming more ambitious about its own potential every day. 

The Hearn Generating Station is a unique industrial landmark in the world. It is three times larger than the Tate Modern, the Statue of Liberty fits in it upright (or on its side), and it sits proudly on Toronto’s waterfront. Its smokestack is one of the only structures in Toronto (apart from the CN Tower) you can see distinctly from across the lake on a good day. Every architecture student, architect, and urbanist in Toronto has probably dreamt about what the Hearn could be. In 2016 Luminato will turn on the Hearn.
In the 20th century the Hearn Generating Station produced electricity. In the 21st century, it will produce art (well, at least next June).

Unsound Toronto, 2015. Photo by David Leyes.

In 2014 our Big Bang Bash Gala was the first public event in the Hearn Generating Station and last year we electrified the city by adding the unforgettable 48-hour Unsound Festival at the Hearn following our annual Gala. Our guests and audiences experienced the Hearn as a uniquely thrilling space – a majestic abandoned industrial cathedral. Next year, we’re taking it even further.

Every great international city has a unique cultural institution. Buenos Aires has the Teatro Colón, Milan has La Scala, Paris has the Louvre, New York has MoMA, and in June 2016 Toronto will have the Hearn Generating Station. Luminato Festival was founded a decade ago to infuse new energy into Toronto, to ‘turn the lights back on’, to bring Toronto to the world and the world to Toronto. In the Hearn Generating Station we will create the world’s largest multidisciplinary generator of art and culture, offering a globally unique, exceptionally rich and highly integrated cultural experience.

Big Bang Bash Gala, 2014. Photo by George Pimentel.

It feels totally natural and clear that as the climax completing Luminato’s first decade and launching its second, the Festival shows Toronto and the world the possibilities that lie within our city. The Hearn Generating Station could be the cultural icon of the new millennium - a new idea of a cultural institution where ideas, art forms, artists, and audiences are no longer separated but brought together to create new energy, new ideas. Culture does not need to spread out across multiple institutions anymore – flat, hierarchical, high and low. It should be three-dimensional, transformable, mutually energizing and enlightening – truly something for everyone.

Luminato has always been a festival about discovering our city in a new light, taking our audiences on a journey – an adventure in their minds and an adventure into our city. A city is only as great as the encounters and the energy it can create. The arts have always been the kindling to the great fire of our human spirit, and at its heart Luminato has always been about discovering adventurous art and ideas in adventurous places. 

The 2016 Luminato Festival, the 10th edition, will take place at the Hearn Generating Station and all over the city – here, there and everywhere. To complement this ‘residency’ in the Hearn Generating Station, instead of the Festival hub we had in previous years in a succession of city squares (most recently David Pecaut Square, commemorating the festival’s co-founder), we will take over the plaza at the refurbished Union Station as the festival’s gateway, where we will present daytime programming and a food festival, expanding on weekends to include larger scale, free events.

Union SquareUnion Square. Photo courtesy City of Toronto.

The renovated Plaza in front of Union Station is the new entrance hall to our city, Toronto’s front door. The Hearn Generating Station is a building that signifies what this city could be – today’s vision of the future. It captures everyone’s imagination: everyone knows it, hardly anyone has been there. In 2016, Luminato will occupy both spaces; the here - today’s entrance to Toronto; the there – the Hearn, the future, what Toronto could be; and the everywhere – with a visual art project (the details of which will be announced in the spring) that will turn Toronto into the largest outdoor gallery in the world. We’ll also create a special celebratory event in David Pecaut Square remembering David’s extraordinary founding vision for Luminato, without which, and his partnership with founding co-Chair Tony Gagliano, none of us would be here.

The space of the Hearn will not be divided into distinctly different areas but will feature fluid interlocking inseparable areas: stage, exhibition, and entertainment. Programming will be conceived as an almost seamless texture of events which will spread out across the individual areas while guaranteeing that various programs do not compete with each other but allow the audience to experience the greatest variety and flexibility possible. Working with the architects, thinkers and cultural enthusiasts at PARTISANS, and leading international theatre and acoustics consultancy Charcoalblue, we will create temporary spaces inside the Hearn including a variety of performance spaces, a restaurant, a club and more, alongside transport access to and from the Hearn – taking particular care that the quality of the front of house experience is inviting and welcoming, despite the challenges of the building.

Hearn Generating Station. Photo by David Leyes.

Next June, the industrial energy of the Hearn’s past will be rekindled to produce cultural energy.  Energy is produced by friction. Friction is what we will create when in one part of the immense building a play ends and 15 minutes later in another space an experimental music event starts; above which a remembered public artwork hangs while people inside are immersed in interactive theatre, and in another part of the building hundreds of others enjoy a drink and snack before walking towards one of the different gallery spaces; and elsewhere still audiences dance late into the night. Everyone will sense everyone else in the building, but first and foremost they will re-discover themselves.

Hearn Generating Station. Photo by George Pimentel.

We hope you are as excited by these plans as we are. Over the past few months, we’ve been discussing this idea with all the people who will be our collaborators in bringing it to life – our friends and colleagues in Toronto’s City Council and their regulatory and transportation partners, landowners and licensees; world-leading specialist advisers; our artists, and others in the wider cultural community; and more, and we’ve been very struck by the unanimity with which people are excited by our vision. Special thanks to Paul Vaughan and Studios of America, who hold the ground lease that includes the incredible building that is the Hearn and who embraced our plans immediately and enthusiastically. Thank you as well to our founding government partner, the Province of Ontario, our major partner the Government of Canada and our presenting partner the City of Toronto and all our corporate partners and donors. 

We’ll be announcing specifics about the artists, productions and experiences that make up the full Festival in the coming weeks and months – we can’t wait to share all the details on how we will turn the Hearn into the largest multi-arts generator in the world with you.  

Join us this June as we #TurnOnTheHearn!

Jorn Weisbrodt
Artistic Director, Luminato Festival
The 10th Anniversary Luminato Festival starts on June 10, 2016. 

For media inquiries or images, please contact Ashley Ballantyne, Director of Communications at media@luminato.com.