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EVENT: Luminato breaks down barriers between artist and audience

The 7th annual Luminato festival encapsulates co-founder David Pecaut’s bold vision to showcase “the creativity in each one of us,” with an intense focus on audience participation and collaboration.

The 10-day celebration of creativity, which kicks off on June 14, features an array of music, theatre, literature, dancing, visual arts and even magic. Luminato Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt put together the eclectic lineup that aims to push Pecaut’s pioneering spirit forward while seducing the senses through a barrage of disciplines.

The festival Hub is located at David Pecaut Square at 55 John Street, but events take place across the city.  Click here for the full lineup.

Breaking down the barriers between artist and audience is a challenge Weisbrodt has ambitiously tackled, creating opportunities to thrust the audience from the sidelines, into the heart of the creative process.

A prime example would be the Music Mob on Saturday 22nd at The Hub in David Pecaut Square — where audience members will get the chance to play with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Participants can download sheet music online or watch tutorial videos ahead of time to prepare.

“You can (practice) the music and then you can come together and hopefully it will be Toronto’s largest orchestra,” Weisbrodt said.

If you’re not musically inclined you can still sit back and enjoy Luminato’s free concert series at The Hub. Performers like K-OS, Serena Ryder and Rosanne Cash are among the many stars and up-and-comers that will take to the stage.

Weisbrodt has even thought of a creative way to get around an 11 p.m. sound curfew when world famous DJ Kid Koala performs Space Cadet at The Hub on Saturday June 22.

The DJ “video comic book” won’t break any noise laws because it’s experienced through headphones.

Weisbrodt cites it as a great example of how Luminato attacks the senses.

“We’ve commissioned (Kid Koala) to work with one of the leading perfume and scent companies in the world to create different scents that go with different elements of the story,” he explains.

The festival’s adventurous spirit is further embodied in Stockpile, a collaborative effort between nine artists and audience members.

The interactive performance spectacle seeks to recreate an arcade-style claw machine. The only differences? It’s life-sized, the artists play the role of the claw, and the audience manipulates the artists.

The items they pick up are donated by the community.

Big ideas also clash with big names at the festival. One of the biggest is international folk star and artist, Joni Mitchell, who will participate in TimesTalks on Sunday, June 16 at 6 p.m.  TimesTalks are a series of conversations with renowned artists, led by New York Times chief pop music critic Jon Pareles.

Mitchell may lend the festival coveted star power, but Weisbrodt hesitates to point out a single ‘must see’ event.

“It’s like which one is your favourite child?” he says, noting that the festival strives towards creative cohesion.

“We are really about combining all the arts and basically creating that orchestral sound almost, bringing all the different disciplines together.

“What is very important to me is that it somehow adds up to one larger whole.”

Luminato was the brainchild of Pecaut, who passed away in 2009, and Tony Gagliano.  Together they dreamed up the multidisciplinary festival in 2003 as a way to celebrate creativity and showcase Toronto on the world stage.

It has since grown to become one of the most prestigious arts festivals in North America, featuring 7,500 artists from 40 countries.

Luminato’s Brad Lepp tells CityNews.ca the 2013 operating budget is $11 million, and the festival injects around $52 million into the local economy, reaching between 700,000 and 1 million people through public programming, ticketed events and installations.

The money may assure Luminato continues to thrive, but Weisbrodt says it’s the transformative power of art that has the largest impact.

“Luminato really wants to change the way you look at the city, to transform the city.  It believes peoples’ world views should be changed through the arts.

“I think Toronto is at a very interesting juncture of deciding to breakthrough and become a city of global and cultural importance.  And it’s fascinating to be a small part of making that happen.”