Illuminares plans to return to nature

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Despite better-than-anticipated attendance figures for the July 30 Illuminares event that took place, for the first time, at Canada Place, the lantern festival will be back in a park next year.

“We have decided that we will not be returning to Canada Place, because as great as it was and as important as it was to be there, we do feel like it would be best returning to a park setting,” said Laura Grieco, managing director of Public Dreams, which produces Illuminares, adding she estimates this year’s event drew more than 15,000. “We were thinking [we would get] 8,000 to 10,000 [at Canada Place], and it was more than we had expected, definitely. But for us the measure of success, in a lot of ways, is not about the numbers.”

Community engagement this year was down, said Grieco: “Before, at Trout Lake, you might have had 80 percent of the excitement of the event actually created by the community themselves. I would say 80 percent of the programming at Illuminares this year was created by us, and 20 percent was maybe brought by the public, if that.”¦We got a lot of people who came with no lantern in hand, saying, ”˜Where’s the lanterns?’ And it’s about what people bring. About them bringing the lantern, about them sharing their expression and their art. We’re not a performance, we’re not about putting on a big show for other people for free.”

Grieco said new settings being considered include Queen Elizabeth Park and Van Dusen Botanical Garden. A return to Trout Lake hasn’t been ruled out, said Grieco, though such an undertaking would involve “a big fundraising push”, she said.

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C. Knott
Oh surprise, surprise; Public Dreams didn't get the participation that they expected. After Samatha Jo Simmonds referred to previous lanterns as 'antiquated' and 'same old'....do you think anyone really wanted to bring down their creations? It doesn't matter whether the lantern was made by a little kid banging nails into a tin can or a person who made a fire breathing dragon in their basement for the last six months, to be belittled by Public Dreams creative director was enough to discourage anyone. Simmonds absolutely gave the impression that the Illuminares was no longer about community and that she had re-focused it as a more performance based event.
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Julie McIntyre
@ C. Knott
I don't think you're being fair to Samantha Jo Simmonds or Public Dreams in their attempt to save Illuminares and grow community outside of the east end. From what I gather, Trout Lake was an undeniable success, but it took years to build the event and ironically, Public Dreams became victims of its own success. Crowd management costs (from portable toilets to security), coupled with major grant cuts crippled what essentially is a grassroots celebration of community engagement through visual and performance art. You don't have to go bigger to grow better. Taking back Canada Place from the tourists for a night was a courageous visionary act and created a magical experience for my family.
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