The Luminato Festival has announced the hiring of Toronto’s Naomi Campbell as incoming artistic director.
Campbell, originally from New Brunswick, has made Toronto home for the past 35 years as an award-winning Canadian Theatre producer, director, stage manager and curator.
First joining Luminato as Company Manager in 2011, Campbell was responsible for producing many of the festival’s largest productions, including The Life and Death of Marina Abramović and Apocalypsis. She was appointed Luminato’s first-ever director of artistic development in 2013, where she helped develop Luminato’s 10th year anniversary at the Hearn Generating Station. Campbell was appointed deputy artistic director in 2017.
“Naomi has enormous wisdom, profound humanity and a wonderful appetite for artistic adventure. Her artistic leadership opens the door to a thrilling new chapter in Luminato’s journey and an excitingly fresh view of the festival’s role in our city,” said Anthony Sargent, CEO of Luminato.
The company was thrust into uncertainty this past August with the surprise departure of artistic director Josephine Ridge, who left the position after just two years. According to a report from the Toronto Star, her reason for leaving was due to her concerns involving Luminato’s ability to maintain its reputation as a major international arts festival.
Despite healthy ticket sales, much of her worry stemmed from Luminato’s worrying 60 percent drop in operating funds which has continued to decline for the past ten years. From its initial 15 million dollars in funding in 2007, Luminato’s budget has decreased to a mere 6 million in 2018. The most recent blow to Luminato’s bottom line was after L’Oreal’s decision to pull their festival sponsorship in 2016.
The festival has responded to the decline in funding by shifting their focus from expensive, big-ticket international level productions, to more locally-minded productions with scaled-back aspirations.
In a comment to the Star, Ridge stated that shrinking resources simply can’t “provide the sort of platform and scope that you need to really continue.”
Despite the challenges ahead, Campbell said she was “excited by the opportunity to take on this new role at Luminato” and that she “will continue to question and challenge our assumptions about the world through the presentation of provocative and relevant works of beauty, wit and intelligence in a context that inspires discussion and creates lasting resonance.”
Campbell will begin her role programming for the 2019 summer season slated for June 2019.