Just days after the 2024 Sydney Festival closed, its Artistic Director Olivia Ansell has been announced as the incoming Artistic Director of Toronto’s Luminato Festival in Canada.

Ansell, whose Sydney Festival contract was recently extended, will curate her inaugural program for Luminato’s 19th year, which will begin mid-2025.

“Toronto is a remarkable city and I look forward to fostering creative exchange among artists, organisations and communities locally and worldwide to amplify the vibrancy of this city’s identity through cultural storytelling and ambitious public play,” Ansell said.

Olivia Ansell. Photo © Wendell Teodoro

“Ansell’s dedication to cultural storytelling, audience engagement, and animating place will help deepen Luminato’s impact as a cultural city-building organisation,” said Celia Smith, CEO of Luminato. “She has a natural talent for understanding the pulse of a city and presenting it in an authentic manner.”

Ansell has helmed Sydney Festival through its post-pandemic recovery and to the point where it surpassed box office goals. The 2023 Festival welcomed 420,234 attendances into theatres, public parks, outdoor spaces, galleries, clubs, swimming pools and hospitality venues.

Among Ansell’s notable successes have been the programming of the blockbuster immersive experience Frida Kahlo – The Life of an Icon exhibition, which attracted more than 85,000 attendees; the Australian debut of the Lithuanian opera Sun & Sea, which transformed Sydney Town Hall into a beach, and the staging of Puccini’s one act opera ll Tabarro aboard the Carpentaria Light Ship in Darling Habour.

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