In 2017, Luminato kicks off in an entirely new way. By opening with a free celebration of contemporary Indigenous culture we signal the start of a new conversation with the people of Toronto. This is not the same city, nor is it the same world, that existed when Luminato was conceived in 2007 and, to ensure that we remain relevant and engaged, we will listen, watch, anticipate, and respond to those things that define Toronto as we approach the third decade of the 21st century.
To do many of the things that we want to achieve will take time but what I hope you, our audience, will discover in this year’s program is a festival that is curious about the world, interested in the vibrant diversity of the communities that comprise Toronto today, eager to engage in discourse, but also ready at all times to have fun and to celebrate the marvellous qualities of this great city. Importantly, as a festival, we invite you to come together to experience Luminato, to share what it has to offer and to relish the enduring memories it leaves us with.
The heart of Luminato in 2017 will be The Famous Spiegeltent, a 1920s Belgium mirror tent nestled into David Pecaut Square. Including it comes from this place of wanting to create intimate moments of entertainment and discovery in an environment that offers a quintessentially festival experience. Throughout the 12 days of Luminato, this exquisite venue will be home to international and local musicians, theatre and cabaret artists, and I invite you to come often to enjoy its unique ambience.
The multi-cultural nature of Toronto is one of its most defining and valuable characteristics. Over the coming years we will engage with audiences and artists from across the city which will, by design, also take us around the world on a journey celebrating the wealth of local talent, but also introducing the best of what is to be found internationally. So, we begin this exploration in 2017 where we should, with the oldest and founding culture of this territory, that of the Indigenous people. Tributaries, the opening Indigenous event on June 14 in David Pecaut Square, will be as joyous and powerful as it will be significant.
An iconic Sanskrit epic poem is revisited with Akram Khan’s Until the Lions, a timely interpretation of one story from the Mahabharata in which the traditional male dominance is reversed and instead it’s given to Amba, a powerful female protagonist. From South Asia, you can then immerse yourself in the richness of Islamic culture when Luminato hosts an iftar with music at the breaking of a Ramadhan fast.
In this way, a festival exists to enrich our cultural landscape and also to provide the chance for local artists to collaborate with others from elsewhere in the country and the world. En avant, marche! brings the opportunity for local artists, in this case the Weston Silver Band, to work with international artists. These sorts of activities create ripples that resonate well beyond the festival period.
Commissioning is also important in this context and Luminato is committed to commissioning artists to realize their dreams. The process of creating new work is complex and takes time, therefore I am immensely proud that a work commissioned prior to my arrival will have its world premiere during the 2017 festival when Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre unveils King Arthur’s Night. There are plans underway already for many such collaborations in future years.
In 2017 there are other exceptional artists coming from overseas, like Alain Platel and his company les ballets C de la B, whose work has been central to some of the most exciting developments in theatre and dance in the past 20 years; there are artists from elsewhere in Canada like Montreal’s Le Patin Libre — a contemporary dance company who just happen to dance on ice-skates; there are local artists and organizations such as Michael Greyeyes’ Signal Theatre with the sort of large-scale work that Luminato exists to make possible.
There are partnerships with some of Toronto’s most important organizations such as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, with whom we present the international hip hop dance phenomenon Breakin’ Convention, the Art Gallery of Ontario and The Theatre Centre, with whom we are announcing an ongoing relationship to support the creative development of the most promising works to come out of their Residency program.
Throughout the program this year, and into the future, we will continue to look for ways to contribute, to add meaning and to reflect, respond to and celebrate Toronto.
I thank all our audiences, artists and supporters for being an important part of the Luminato journey so far and I look forward very much to welcoming you to the 2017 festival.