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How Luminato Inspires The Inner Artist In All of Us

Oh, Dirty Dancing we love you.

Remember THAT song? "Now I've had the time of my life. No I never felt like this before..."

Cut to last week when two men stood on stage belting out the lyrics as if their lives depended on it.

In that moment, they were performers. They were artists. They were doing it.

The two were an unlikely pair, but it worked beautifully. Arm in arm they sang to each other to the delight of the audience.

What was so special about this? Mayor John Tory and Jorn Weisbrodt, Luminato Festival's Artistic Director, showed us all that there is an inner artist in all of us. And with one simple act, it gave those in attendance that permission, that slight nudge, to say, "hey, yeah, I can do this too."

And it worked.

One by one, the audience joined in and contributed to the experience. It was jaw dropping to see. How one simple song, one simple act could unite a large group.

Participating in creation.

This at the core of what is the DNA of the 9th Annual Luminato Festival, happening now and closing this weekend.

In bold transformative fashion, Luminato Festival's goal is, "to create adventurous art and ideas in adventurous places until June 28th with a celebratory, 10-day multi-arts schedule that re-imagines Toronto and the way we experience it." Local, national and international artists, from one to 1,000, animate the city with music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, film, food and more are the stimuli that make it happen.

Is it achieving its goals? Well, it is a festival gone through changes (Anthony Sargent is the new CEO starting in August), growth and has taken risks. It has taken a while for it to understand what it is and for audiences to understand the same.

That said, in a city that has so much going on all the time, it is and has made its mark. It has become one of the preeminent arts festivals in North America, having commissioned over 66 new works of art, and featured 7,500 artists from 40 countries.

It has aided the goal of many to bring the world to Toronto and Toronto to the world.

We had the chance to sit down with Mr. Weisbrodt whose vision is taking the Festival to new frontiers.

What is the goal for artists and audiences alike of the Festival?

To bring adventurous art and ideas to adventurous spaces, to create a sense of community, of belonging which is the result of discovery and adventure. You have to look beyond where you are to discover who you are. We want to create a temporary family of artists and audiences alike, create shared experiences that change how we feel about us, Toronto and the world around us.

We loved you singing with the Mayor. Touched on the idea that there is an inner artist in all of us. How is the Festival enabling public to discover that?

Art is something that does not happen without the audience. They are the missing link. This year we have over 1,000 people in two huge scale projects, R. Murray Schafer's Apocalypsis and David Byrne's Contemporary Color, who are not professional artists but members of the community from 10 years old to 80 years old. To me, it is extremely important to work with community members. I do not think that the distinction between high and low art still works. We had open calls for projects for people to audition. The orchestra at the Orchestra Karaoke was partly people who we selected from over 100 applications.

There is a sentiment that the Luminato Festival should have year round presence in Toronto. Agree? If so, how close are we do seeing this?

I would love to have a building where we could create projects throughout the year that we then premiere at Luminato, like an incubator. The public could then be invited to participate in the creative process and witness it at certain points. No festival in the world has that, the best of both worlds, a building and still a cultural institution without walls.

How can the public carry on the Luminato spirit throughout the year?

Go to see as much art as possible! Don't try to understand it at first but try to understand how you feel about it, what you feel. When you are in Trinity Bellwoods try to remember some of the images from Geoffrey Farmer's exhibition, when you ride the subway, think of the postcards by over 20 Pan American artists that you saw on the subway screens during Luminato. Take up dancing again, sing more, imagine what could happen in your city. What would a 20 m high sculpture at David Pecaut Square looks like or what would you want to do in the Hearn Generating Station.

Highlights for the last few days that audiences should be aware of?

Apocalypsis because it is the largest music event in the history of Toronto and it asks the two most important questions: how do we begin and how do we end?

My One Demand as it is the first ever feature length live streamed film with audience interaction. The audience can make script suggestions as the film progresses.

Copycat Academy and the Copycat Talks as with this academy for emerging artists we are opening the festival to a group of artists who would otherwise not be part of the festival and use it for education and the development of artists.

The Festival Hub in general because it is Toronto's largest backyard and we have a party every night and every Torontonian is invited as our neighbour.

In one sentence, why should people clear their schedules and go to Luminato?

Because we do what no one else is doing and most likely will blow your mind.

Your one wish to happen in 5 years?

Let us take over the Hearn Generating Station.

He isn't kidding.

Luminato Festival continues until June 28th. All details of happenings are here.

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