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THE SCOOP | Luminato Festival Toronto Names Arts Curator Olivia Ansell As Artistic Director

By Anya Wassenberg on February 6, 2024

Olivia Ansell (Photo courtesy of Luminato)
Olivia Ansell (Photo courtesy of Luminato)

A new artistic director has been found for the Luminato Festival Toronto after a local and global search. Olivia Ansell has been named to the position by the annual international arts and culture festival.

Ansell is currently Festival Director of Sydney Festival, and she was formerly the Head of Contemporary Performance for Sydney Opera House. She brings a great deal of experience in leading major cultural institutions to her new position.

Ansell will curate her first program for Luminato in 2025 for its 19th iteration.

“I am honoured to join Luminato and curate for a renowned multi-disciplinary festival at an international scale,” says Olivia Ansell in a statement. “Toronto is a remarkable city and I look forward to fostering creative exchange among artists, organizations and communities locally and worldwide to amplify the vibrancy of this city’s identity through cultural storytelling and ambitious public play.”

Ansell has held a variety of roles in art and culture festival organizations in her native Australia,

  • Artistic Director of the Sydney Comedy Festival;
  • Consultant Executive Producer, Oz Asia Festival;
  • Producer, Perth Writer’s Festival;
  • Among others.

She studied at New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance School before later graduating from Queensland University of Technology. She holds an Associate Degree in Dance and Creative Arts from the latter institution. Olivia has worked as a dancer, curator, and independent producer, and today is a lecturer in Movement for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s post graduate Con Opera School. Olivia is also a global nominator for the Sadler’s Wells Rose International Dance Prize.

She was voted as one of Vivid Sydney’s Top 100 Creative Catalysts, and has won numerous awards for her work in Australia. In 2023, Sydney Festival surpassed its box office goals, and her tenure was extended through to 2025.

“I am filled with immense excitement and enthusiasm to welcome Olivia Ansell as our Artistic Director,” says Celia Smith, CEO of Luminato Festival Toronto. “Ansell’s dedication to cultural storytelling, audience engagement, and animating place will help deepen Luminato’s impact as a cultural city-building organization. She has a natural talent for understanding the pulse of a city and presenting it in an authentic manner.”

The search for Luminato’s new artistic director was conducted by Caldwell Partners, who considered local, national, and international candidates. The final decision was made by a selection committee consisting of Celia Smith, CEO, Luminato; Douglas Knight C.M., Board Chair, Luminato; maxine bailey, Executive Director, Canadian Film Centre, and Vice-Chair, Luminato; Jason Ryle, international programmer, previous Executive Director, imagineNATIVE, and newly appointed board member, Luminato; Ravi Jain, co-artistic director/founder of Why Not Theatre and newly appointed Luminato board member; and Luminato’s senior leadership team.

Congratulations to both Olivia Ansell and Luminato Festival Toronto on the exciting new era at the horizon.

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