German-born arts administrator Jorn Weisbrodt has been named the new artistic director of Luminato, Toronto’s annual festival of the arts and creativity.
Weisbrodt, 38, starts his new job in January next year, succeeding Luminato’s founding artistic director Chris Lorway, who is now director of festivals and performing arts for Toronto’s Lord Cultural Resources.
Weisbrodt’s appointment, officially announced early Thursday by Luminato chair Tony Gagliano, will bring an added gloss of glamour to the 10-day festival, marking its sixth anniversary next June, not least because he’s the fiancé of acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. The couple, who announced their engagement late last year and likely will marry next August (location to be determined), will establish a residence in Toronto while maintaining a small apartment in New York (where Weisbrodt is currently based) as well as a summer home in Montauk on Long Island, N.Y.
For the past five years the Hamburg-born Weisbrodt has been director of Long Island’s The Watermill Center, “a laboratory for performance” established in 1992 by famed director and artist Robert Wilson, and executive director of RW Work Ltd., which manages Wilson’s creative output.
Chosen for the Luminato job via an international search, Weisbrodt is no stranger to the Toronto festival. In 2010 he was instrumental in arranging the North American premiere at Luminato of Wainwright’s debut opera, Prima Donna. And even before being named artistic director (he was notified of his appointment last week; it’s an open-ended position), he was on tap to co-produce the festival’s 2012 remount of Einstein on the Beach, the legendary five-hour opera written by Philip Glass and first directed by Robert Wilson in 1976.
“What I love about [Luminato]is that it really wants to cover all the creative areas from theatre, opera, music to literature but also magic and food,” Weisbrodt said in a brief interview from the apartment he shares with Wainwright in Manhattan.
“My vision is to make all these disciplines play with each other and to encourage artists to collaborate with artists from different fields and create projects that can only happen in such a fruitful environment. … I don’t think a festival today should just invite productions from the international or national touring circuit; it should encourage artists to create something new.”
Has Weisbrodt already signed up his “partner for life” for any future Luminato projects?
“We haven’t really talked about it,” Weisbrodt replied. “I definitely don’t want to give the impression that [Wainwright]will be part of the program all the time. I think where it makes sense, yes; he’s one of the great Canadian artists and musicians so to leave him out of potential programming would be foolish. But I don’t want to push him into the festival. Whenever we plan something I want to make sure the whole [Luminato]team and the board are behind it.”