About SummerWorks


As a festival that brings together performance nationally and internationally, we wish to acknowledge that SummerWorks takes place on the traditional territory, Tkaronto, “Where the Trees Meet the Water,” “The Gathering Place” of the Mississauga, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat Nations. As we come together we pay our respects to all our relations who have gathered and will continue to gather in this place.

The SummerWorks Performance Festival is Canada’s largest curated performance festival. Widely recognized as one of the most important platforms for launching new Canadian work, this year’s 11-day festival features 52 unique projects as well as social events and workshops.

SummerWorks supports work that has a clear artistic vision and explores a specific aesthetic. It encourages risk, questions, and creative exploration while insisting on accessibility, integrity, and professionalism. SummerWorks is the place where dedicated, professional artists are free to explore new territory and take artistic risks.

OUR MANDATE

SummerWorks Performance Festival is committed to the following:

To ensure a high standard of quality productions in a Festival that has elements which intrigue, excite, attract and entertain an audience.

To produce a curated Festival in which the participants feel supported by a strong technical, administrative and artistic team, and feel proud of the other high calibre work being produced alongside their own.

To produce a Festival that provides an environment that cultivates and stimulates artistic growth, with the focus on artistic and professional development for our participants, our audience and our staff.

To support the work and participation of the next generation of performance-makers.

ARTISTIC VISION

SummerWorks supports work that has a clear artistic vision and explores a specific theatrical aesthetic. It encourages risk, questions, and creative exploration while insisting on accessibility, integrity and professionalism. SummerWorks is the place where dedicated, professional artists are free to explore new territory and take artistic risks. Rather than getting larger, we strive to get better. We look to introduce professional artists from diverse communities to each other and be inspired by our similarities and differences.

A BRIEF HISTORY

In 1991, five friends, Benj Gallander, Greg Holmgren, Carol Pauker, Rob Sherwood and Ben Stadelmann came together to put on the first SummerWorks Festival. The decision to mount a new fringe-style festival was a response to what was seen as a growing, under-represented small theatre community.

From the success of the first year, it was apparent that there was a definite need in the community for this type of festival. Since 1991, SummerWorks has continued to explore and respond to the needs and wants of our audience and theatre community. Each year there were improvements and revisions, instigated by the Producers, often inspired by feedback from the artists participating in the Festival.

From 2000-2004, under the direction of Franco Boni, the Festival made significant changes in order to further distinguish itself as a unique and integral part of the Toronto theatre community. The most significant change was the gradual transition from a lottery system to a fully juried Festival.

These changes were instrumental in raising the calibre of work so that SummerWorks is now the Ontario’s premier festival of cutting-edge, exciting, professional theatre. It is the breeding ground for the mainstage shows of the future and the hub for Toronto’s most dynamic, dedicated performance professionals.

In 2005, the Festival came under the leadership of Artistic Producers Keira Loughran & Kimahli Powell. Their focus was to continue to build support for the artistic excellence the Festival had come to be known for and to serve as a meeting ground of Canada’s most exciting and engaging emerging and established artists with the launch of the SummerWorks Canadian Pavilion in 2006. In 2007, Keira took on full responsibility for the festival as sole Artistic Producer.

In January 2008, Michael Rubenfeld became the Artistic Producer of the Festival, bringing with him his great love for music, and his desire to find new ways of exploring theatre as a communal experience. During his eight-year tenure, SummerWorks transitioned from a theatre to a multi-arts festival, emerging as a home for all forms of contemporary performance, boundary-bending pieces and challenging works. Beginning with starting the Music Series, Rubenfeld also established the Live Art Series, Dance Series, Performance Gallery, Performance Bar, SummerWalks and co-created the SummerWorks Leadership Intensive Program (S.L.I.P.) with Jordi Mand, creating a home for emerging arts practitioners to delve into the business of the arts.

In April 2016, Laura Nanni was appointed the Artistic and Managing Director of of the Festival. In this role Nanni will continue to build community and to create an inclusive home for diverse and ground-breaking contemporary performance.