Chicago wants something Toronto has: a Luminato-like arts festival (and tons of international tourists)
While Chicago has Toronto beat on virtually every other count when it comes to arts and culture, the Big Smoke trounces the Windy City when it comes to festivals. The Toronto Star’s Martin Knelman picked up that argument yesterday, pointing to a lengthy column from the Chicago Tribune last summer that suggested Chicago needs Toronto’s crazy wealth of cultural mega-events—specifically something like Luminato, which kicks off this year on June 8. Theatre critic Chris Jones has repeatedly argued his city should copy the Luminato format in order to build international prestige (which it desperately wants) and draw international tourists (which it wants even more). As it stands, Toronto attracts roughly 2.5 times as many international visitors as Chicago, so why not steal a few pages right out of the Luminato playbook? Host lots of big, free events; commission attention-grabbing new works by internationally known names; focus on original programming rather than simply knitting together existing events and calling it a festival; and, finally, make it all possible with tons of public funding. Of course, that last bit is no longer the case—which, we suspect, is exactly why Knelman revisited the argument in the first place.