Luminato Festival

Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts & Creativity, is an annual, international, multi-disciplinary arts Festival, which reflects the diverse character of the City of Toronto and aims to engage the entire community.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Luminato Festival is Toronto’s global multi-arts festival dedicated to performance, visual art, music, theatre, dance, magic and more. In 2016, the Festival marks its 10th anniversary from June 10 to 26 with a free and ticketed program of local and international artists delivering adventurous art in adventurous places.


Luminato embraces all fields of creativity and encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and creation among leading artists and inspired thinkers of all kinds. Our goal is to transform Toronto, to create a culture that is accessible to all people and to impact Canadian and global arts.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Luminato was born out of the cultural and creative energy of the city of Toronto. Following a meeting with Tony Gagliano, Executive Chairman and CEO of St. Joseph Communications, and the late David Pecaut, Senior Partner at the Boston Consulting Group, the two spent years engaging local and national leaders in the arts to solicit their ideas and shape a vision for a new festival. Officially launched in June 2007, Luminato has become one of the world’s leading multi-arts festivals, using Toronto’s vitality and diverse cultural communities to inspire visitors from around the globe.  

In its first decade, Luminato has become one of the preeminent arts festivals in North America, having commissioned close to 100 new works of art, with over 3,000 performances featuring more than 13,000 artists. 82% of participating artists were Canadian, and 18% were from over 40 countries around the world.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • Luminato has been named a Festival of Distinction numerous times by the Festivals & Events Ontario association, and was awarded Best Community Partner Outreach Program in 2015.

  • The 2015 Festival featured 6 World Premieres, 2 North American Premieres and 6 Canadian Premieres showcasing over 1,800 artists from 32 countries. 615,000 people participated in 159 events at 21 locations.

  • In 2014, Luminato and Manulife were together awarded the Community Impact Award from Business for the Arts for the Festival volunteer program. Over 300 Volunteers generously give their time to create a welcoming, accessible Festival environment each year.

  • Each year, over 800,000 attendees come to the Luminato Festival to enjoy more than 150 events, many of which are free thanks to the tremendous support of our donors and partners.

  • The Festival has become one of Canada’s most active commissioning bodies, developing close to 100 new works in theatre, dance, magic, food, literature, music, and visual arts.

  • The Ensemble of Apocalypsis was recently nominated for a 2016 Dora Mavor Moore Award. Previously, Luminato has received the Dora Award for Outstanding Touring Production (2009, 2010), Outstanding New Play (2010), Outstanding Dance Production (2010), Outstanding Sound Design/Composition (2010), Outstanding Costume Design (2014) and Outstanding Production (2015). 

  • Luminato reaches hundreds of thousands of Festivalgoers annually, helping to stimulate the Canadian economy and shining a light on one of the world’s most fascinating, culturally rich cities.

Our Programs How We Do It


Luminato embraces four pillars that guide the Festival program:


Luminato’s hallmarks include widely accessible events, inviting Festival-goers to participate, explore, and celebrate their own creative spirit.


Luminato embraces and celebrates Toronto’s diversity, and recognizes that creativity flourishes when cultures join together in a spirit of exchange and respect.


Luminato reflects artistic collaboration, bringing together local, national and international artists from different genres, disciplines and cultures to originate new and unprecedented creative expressions.


Luminato transforms Toronto and its culture by creating, commissioning and presenting exceptional work that impacts and changes our experience of our city. Luminato adds a fifth season to our natural four seasons.

CultureLink Mentorship Program

The CultureLink Mentorship Program engages and supports newcomer volunteers interested in gaining valuable experience, growing their personal and professional networks and helping to support one of the world’s leading multi-arts festivals.

Since 2011 Luminato has partnered with CultureLink on a program that pairs recent immigrants and newcomers to Canada with established volunteer mentors. In the lead up to the Festival, mentors and mentees participate in meeting circles and a series of professional development sessions focused on areas such as arts marketing, arts administration, public speaking and customer service. Newcomer volunteers work alongside their mentors and other volunteers during the 10-day Festival, joining specialty teams including Arts Marketing, Festival Administration, Info Team and Festival Ambassadors. Participating volunteers gain valuable skills and experience, but also enrich the Festival experience by helping promote Toronto as a city that celebrates diversity and enables access for international visitors and local diverse communities. 

Prior to attending professional development and training workshops at Luminato, volunteers connect with the CultureLink New Canadian Experience initiative where they gain “Canadian experience” through a variety of activities. CultureLink selects and trains experienced Canadians to become mentors for newcomer volunteers. Mentors attend training sessions, participate in meeting circles and support mentees in the lead-up to the Festival. Working in collaboration with Luminato, the program provides a welcoming and safe environment that cultivates new connections and friendships, builds self-confidence and improves employment opportunities. 

Funding and Program Partners

The CultureLink Mentorship Program is delivered in partnership with CulureLink, a settlement organization for newcomers to Canada. Luminato and CultureLink have been working together since 2011.

The CultureLink Mentorship Program is a part of the larger volunteer program run by Luminato Festival every year. The Festival is currently pursuing a new corporate partner to support Luminato’s acclaimed volunteer program, which was awarded with a Community Impact Award from Business for the Arts in 2014.

Program Impact

The CultureLink Mentorship Program has reached over 300 newcomers to Canada over the last five years, or approximately 60 participants per year.  Many participants who first entered the program as mentees often return to become mentors, demonstrating the value and meaningful experiences provided through the process. 

The CultureLink Mentorship Program provides participants with the opportunity to gain experience and new skills in areas such as arts marketing, administration, outreach, and leadership through a variety of seminars, workshops, and on-site experience.  These experiences support the creation of new networks and connect participants to local industry professionals, giving participants the opportunity to form new and long lasting relationships, while facilitating exploration and connection with their new city.

In addition to directly benefitting program participants, this program more broadly impacts communities surrounding and engaged with Luminato Festival and CultureLink. Specifically, the program facilitates meaningful interactions between Festival volunteers and visitors from outside Canada and local diverse communities, creating a sense of belonging and inclusion. Ensuring greater accessibility and engagement with diverse local and international Festivalgoers enables Luminato to better address its programming principle of embracing and celebrating Toronto’s diversity.       

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“The overwhelming majority of Torontonians (97%) see at least one benefit that the arts provide to Toronto, such as highlighting the city’s cultural diversity (71%), improving the city’s economy (63%) and creating employment (59%).” (Toronto’s Vital Signs Report). The CultureLink Mentorship Program celebrates diversity through the arts, benefitting the sector and our city.

“In the city of Toronto, the unemployment rate for those 15 and over born in Canada was 9.0% in 2014 (up from 7.9% in 2013), while for recent immigrants (entered Canada within the last five years) it was 16.2% (up from 15.6% in 2013 and 14.9% in 2012)” (Toronto’s Vital Signs Report). The CultureLink Mentorship Program will build skills, experiences and networks among newcomers to Canada that will enable greater access to employment opportunities in marketing, arts administration and related fields. 

Participant Vignette

Participants in the CultureLink Volunteer Program view this opportunity as a way to establish themselves in their new communities.  Below is a story from Kai, a CultureLink client, which demonstrates how his experience with the Volunteer Program helped him identify with being Canadian.

“Last June I volunteered for the Toronto Luminato Festival. Standing on the corner of David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto, my task was very simple: sending out flyers to pedestrians on the street. I found something very interesting. When I approached to local residents, most of them paused their paces, with a smile, had eye contact, listened to me, chatted a few words, then take a flyer, although I know they didn’t really need it.

At that moment, I had an inspiration. I realized that I had found the answer! What differentiate a Canadian and a newcomer? Canadians trust other people, treat other people friendly, are always helpful. When you interact with a true Canadian, you can feel trust, respect, and willingness to help. That is what really differentiate Canadian and the rest. That is what will benefit me for the whole life.”

Commissioning New Work

Luminato has become one of the most active commissioning bodies in Canada. To date, Luminato has commissioned almost 100 new works from acclaimed Canadian and international artists, as well as emerging talent that will soon be taking the arts world by storm. These major new works are featured at Festivals and promote local artists on the international stage. Its important to start developing the work that will be the ‘hits’ of tomorrow, and inspire young people and engage new audiences. Commissioned works help draw new cultural tourists to the region, demonstrating Toronto to be a vibrant cultural centre.

Luminato often makes multi-year investments which support new work through the commissioning, development, rehearsal, production and dissemination phases to create a collaborative relationships with artists and arts organizations. The Festival hosts international journalists and presenters to come to Toronto to see the work, which has furthered the artists’ reputation abroad, and often results in additional performances and touring options. Response from artists has been very supportive of Luminato’s commissioning role and its impact on the national arts landscape.

Funding and Program Partners

New commissions are supported on a project by project case, with multi-year support from the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, and individual donors who give generously to support its development, including: Lucille and Urban Joseph, St. Joseph Communications, Gretchen and Donald Ross, Phil and Eli Taylor, The Slaight Family, The Hal Jackman Foundation, and La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso.

Program Impact

Luminato’s commissioning work is able to support Canadian artists and foster an environment of creation and innovation. Recognizing that contemporary art doesn’t exist in isolation, Luminato commissions and presents new work across theatre, dance, music, and visual arts – often encouraging artists to collaborate and blur traditional discipline boundaries. One of the Festival’s most important contributions, Luminato helps support the arts year-round with 61% of ticket buyers reporting that because of Luminato they are more interested in seeing other arts and cultural events in Toronto.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“Cities alive with culture attract creative people. And people in creative occupations stimulate the creative economy (one based not on the production of goods and services so much as on the creation and transfer of intellectual property)”. (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009) The importance of nurturing the “creative class” to the prosperity of the city, has been strongly documented in recent years. Luminato’s commissioning role is aligned with the strategy to brand Toronto as a vibrant cultural centre to live, work and visit.

Participant Vignette

Erika Batdorf is one of those innovative artists who is perhaps better known abroad, than here at home. An innovative artist fusing movement, theatre, dance and poetry, Ms. Batdorf’s work combines disciplines to better explore important social issues. Luminato commissioned Ms. Batdorf to develop a new work that explores women’s rights in the context of West | East cultural differences. The partnership with Luminato provides vital development support, as well as the opportunity to present her latest work as part of a major international festival. As a featured Festival artist, Erika Batdorf will be able to make professional contacts with artists from across Canada and around the world, be exposed to a new local and international audience base, participate in talk backs and series to inspire emerging artists, and perhaps result in additional touring opportunities (within Canada and outside).

What You Can Do

CultureLink Mentorship Program

Activities A Donation Will Support

Grants made in support of this program, will be spent towards increasing Luminato’s capacity to deliver specialized experiences for Toronto's newcomers. Many newcomers lack access to professional networks and language remains a barrier to gaining employment in Toronto. The unemployment rate (for workers aged 15 and over) for landed immigrants in the Region was 9% in June 2014, vs 7.3% for those born in Canada. (Toronto’s Vital Signs Report, Work). CultureLink has demonstrated that there is a large demand from their clients for more first-hand “Canadian” experiences to learn and practice skills within their new communities.         

Donation Impact

With your support, the CultureLink Mentorship Program will work to address these issues through focused professional development and networking opportunities that will assist newcomers in connecting with the local arts and culture sector.  


Commissioning New Work

Activities A Donation Will Support

Developing a new work is an expensive and long-term commitment. Your support will enable Luminato to support Canadian artists in the development of an exciting new work. Please contact the Festival for a description of new works that might be commissioned with your support and debut at future Festivals.

Donation Impact

We are looking for partners who believe, like we do, that Canadian artists are among the best in the world, and that we need to invest in the next great new work, and the next generation of incredible artists, that will capture our imaginations. Support for this program will go directly towards developing new work that will be featured as part of the international Festival, as well as professional development opportunities to connect with peers, media and presenters from around the globe.


Leah Schoenmakers
Development Associate, Individual Giving and Foundations
416.368.3100 x257
Charitable Number: 811637347RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 11,000,000


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