ISPA NEW YORK CONGRESS 2020
festival, Prototype NYC and many other festivals.
This is in addition to the teeming day-to-day
offerings from New York’s legendary arts venues
and presenters, and the Association of
Performing Arts Professionals conference.
Were January 100 days long, doing even 10%
of the enticing things on offer would be
impossible; so it’s all about planning. I would
start with JanArtsNYC’s website. And remember,
many cultural treasures are also to be enjoyed
over the river in Brooklyn – an easy Subway ride.
How has Luminato developed?
Luminato is Toronto’s international arts festival,
held in June each year, and it is comparatively
young. Luminato was founded by two Toronto
community leaders in 2007, whereas many of our
peers date from the second half of the last
century. We seek to offer audiences rewarding
and startling cultural discoveries and adventures
– including newly commissioned works and
premieres – that add distinctively to Toronto’s
rich and diverse cultural offer. In recent years
we have also made a feature of showcasing the
distinctive contemporary cultures of Canada’s
Indigenous communities, and more generally
we now seek to illuminate many important moral
and political issues. We also recently added a
global arts presenters forum, Illuminating works,
offering audiences a rich menu of creative works,
while also giving artists fresh opportunities to
make new international friendships.
Do you have advice for other festivals?
Festival leaders face an almost infinite choice
of ways to present the arts. My advice to people
seeking to launch or re-shape a festival would
simply to be very clear about what and who the
festival is really for, before even thinking about
programming. Deciding what success would look
like five years into the future is one useful idea.
Look around the world’s dozen top arts festivals
– they have all reached the point where their
personality and purpose are widely understood
and their communities reward that clarity of
positioning with attentive engagement.
What are some of the challenges that
should be addressed in the industry?
At any point in the last 200 years there have been
hotspots of tension and conflict around the
world. However, today we are living through
a period where trust in liberal democratic
frameworks is breaking down, and in
some cases being actively subverted, to
an unprecedented degree. We have to
decide how, in the work we present,
we can encourage critical thinking
about our societal values, and
positive engagement with the human
and political issues that reflect those
values. This doesn’t mean presenting
wall-to-wall, ferociously intimidating,
didactic and polemical programming.
But we are not fulfilling the responsibility
artists have born for centuries past if in
these volatile times we do not look for ways to
help our communities make sense of the wider
world. It also means we need to be prepared to
speak up unflinchingly for the universal values
on which civilised society rests – freedom and
equality, the universal rule of law and the
inviolate nature of individual human rights. n
will be hosted
by Ilter Ibrahimof,
artistic director of
Fall for Dance
North in Canada
AUDITORIA 2020 VOLUME ONE 51
Contemporary Dance Company