Luminato’s open-air concerts are a bonafide hit. It’s safe to assume that Robert Lepage always has something interesting to say. Philip Glass is a modern-day phenomenon in the art-music world.
But look down the wide end of a red wind sock at Toronto’s much-trumpeted festival of creativity, and there’s a chilly, lonely core at the heart of the fuss: No full exploration of the powerful artistic resources that live, work and teach in this city.
The 1812 Encampment at Fort York is the metaphor.
Your clever little conceptual project gets a small white tent not too far from my small white tent. Each of our 200 bowers of creativity sits encircled by a patch of turf to keep everyone at arm’s length.
Fort York itself is under perpetual siege. First threatened by Americans, then waterfront commerce, then the railways, then factories and warehouses, then the Gardiner Expressway, and now platoons of condo towers, it will never be a real part of Toronto but remain an artefact, a curiosity one has to hunt down with maps, like Treasure Island.
In the performing arts worlds, Toronto has a reputation for being particularly collegial, where individuals and groups are always open to lend a helping hand.
But it’s another story when it comes to actually working together on cross-disciplinary projects. Every company has its season, its grant deadlines, its fundraising challenges, its last-minute artist cancellations. There is no money or time to lay out a blanket in High Park with colleagues to stare at the blue sky and think of interesting ways to mix music, dance, theatre, literature, visual art and — why not? — culinary arts.
Then there are the city’s many cultural communities who enjoy their performing and other arts in relative isolation from each other.
How do we replace our little white tents with big ideas and cross-community creativity?
That kind of free thinking needs space and time and people who are stretched enough coping with their day-to-day challenges.
So why not use Luminato as a year-round catalyst to promote two or three projects that would harness and cross-pollinate the incredible talents in this city — projects that would not be mere extensions of the existing season, but a step into the unknown?
It’s great to have an internationally-minded festival here, but don’t we want to show the world who we are, rather than the other way around?
We haven’t yet seen the fruits of new artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt’s thinking, since much of Luminato 6 was in place before he started working in earnest earlier this year. Perhaps he is already dreaming these very same things.