Typically, one doesn’t think of the summer months as particularly rife with high-minded cultural events. Camping out at concerts and long evenings on the dock or city patios? Absolutely. But citywide, cross-disciplinary art experiences? Surely those belong to the more sober autumn season.

Luminato has changed that, however. Founded in 2007, it bills itself as a “global multi-arts festival dedicated to performance, visual art, music, theatre, dance, magic and more…with a free and ticketed program of local and international artists delivering adventurous art in adventurous places.”

Jörn Weisbrodt, (the German-born former director of Robert Wilson’s Watermill Centre, and husband of Rufus Wainwright) has served as Luminato’s Artistic Director since 2011. Under his tenure here, it has truly grown into a major event; his confident vision has drawn international talent and experimental content. Particularly memorable among my Luminato experiences was when, back in 2013, Mr. Herzig and I went to see The Life and Death of Marina Abromovic. A biographical performance-art piece starring the grande dame herself alongside Willem Defoe, it was every bit as moving, impactful, creepy and unsettling as you might expect.


 Scene from The Life and Death of Marina Abromovic; the artist is on the far right. Image courtesy of Luminato Festival

Unfortunately, this year marked Weisbrodt’s last at the helm. He took a tough-love approach to what he perceives as Toronto’s cultural inferiority complex, albeit one that’s ultimately optimistic that this city can become an even more potent world leader in the cultural sphere. As his parting legacy, he hopes to transform the decaying and nearly-forgotten Hearn Generating Station into a blank-slate cultural centre, a stage for all manner of artistic expression—be it performance, gallery, or dance-party venue.

It was there that Wainwright led masses of strangers in a choral rendition of Canadian Leonard Cohen‘s classic song, Hallelujah. Just try and watch it without getting goosebumps…and believing wholeheartedly in Toronto as a place of divine artistic moments.