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2007 06 09
LuminaTO - Let there be light…
One might have said, if asked a couple of weeks ago, that Toronto didn't need another arts festival, and one might correspondingly have predicted that Torontonians would stay home if presented with one. As we have learned over the past week, one would have been wrong. Toronto seems to be very pleased with LuminaTO and, I think, quite rightly so.

The inaugural year of the newest addition to the summer festival circuit is wrapping up this weekend, and now seems a good time to take a step back and consider how LuminaTO has fared. The short answer: rather well.

(Image courtesy of Arieh Singer.)

I have, over the past week, cavorted in a 1920’s Belgian cabaret tent, sailed on a boat loaded with buskers and artwork, head-bopped at several concerts, and had my heart rate translated into a light beam pulsating across the downtown sky. I have had, in other words, a grand old time. The great joy, the great fun, and the great gift of LuminaTO is its (perhaps startling) eclecticism. I did not realize, until this week, one of the great gaps in our substantial roster of festivals: we haven’t had, up to now, a true free-for-all.

This is no way to denigrate the existing, incredibly rich array of events we already have on offer. I am, in fact, something of a festival junkie. Nothing seems more fun, on any given weekend, than immersing myself in the performing arts of South Asia, or in independent theatre, or small press publications. But these are, precisely, immersions in specific worlds. Most of Toronto’s prominent festivals focus either on an individual medium (TIFF, fFIDA, etc.), geographical region (like Caribana) or community (as with Pride. When I choose to spend an evening at, for instance, Taste of the Danforth, I am choosing to spend time in one particular realm. What LuminaTO gives us is many worlds jostling up against one another -- even if I go with the intention of having a burlesque adventure in the Spiegeltent,I will inevitably end up encountering - and sticking around for - something quite different along the way: a free performance of a New Orleans brass band, or this weekend's Carnivalissa.

LuminaTO’s contribution has a great deal to do with this riotous jumble, which makes it easy, and in fact quite likely, that anyone who attends one LuminaTO event ends up being surprised by another one taking place just down the street. This is good for the soul, and somewhat difficult to find most of the time.

This was, to be sure, the inaugural year. There are some kinks that still need to get worked out, and some ways in which LuminaTO still needs to grow. The quality of the works (both visual and performance pieces) was a bit inconsistent; while most were at the very least enjoyable, and at best outstanding, there were a few that were perhaps not ready for quite so big a stage. But overall, LuminaTO is a smashing addition to our annual calendar, and will, I hope, have a long and vibrant life.

LuminaTO ends tomorrow, with events (most of them free) going on throughout the day and evening at Harbourfront and the Distillery District. The Pulse Front light installation has been extended due to its popularity, and will be running at Harbourfront until June 17th.
[email this story] Posted by Hamutal Dotan on 06/09 at 10:50 PM

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