So here we are, weeks away from opening our second edition of CAMINOS, and it’s that moment in the Artistic Director’s job where I’m asked to reflect on the “why” of the festival.
The questions most asked are, What makes it unique? Why should you care? It’s a challenging task. Not because I can’t answer these questions, but because I’m getting to a point in my life and career where I’m resisting marketing language that define the arts and its impact on a city and its people.
Perhaps the question I prefer to address is how does CAMINOS makes us re-think the art we create and produce in Toronto.
We live in an exciting city, full of great artists. There are a number of festivals of works-in-progress such as CAMINOS that I greatly admire, each of which I feel are quite unique. In fact, they have been, and continue to be, a guiding light for the creation of an alternative platform for performance practices.
The more I travel to international events across the Americas, the more I understand the critical role of a Pan-American perspective. At a recent gathering of more than fifty presenters from some of the most important festivals in Latin America, I was shocked to find a lack of programming of works by Indigenous, Black, Queer, Latinx, or diverse companies; these artists are still working mainly at the periphery: in the fringes of their local art scenes.
CAMINOS is about bringing these artists and communities to the forefront. I keep pounding on the phrase, “My Pan-Americanism includes Canada”. We are all part of, and a result of, a convergence of perspectives. As an artist, I believe that this a most enriching canvas. The challenges and the struggles that exist at the intersection fuel the work with purpose, honesty and truthfulness; and with the responsibility to affect change in the society around us.
CAMINOS is a festival that looks into the future. We encourage presenting artists to risk, to be bold, to forget about reviews, or who might be the “top shows/artists to watch”…We don’t simply curate a piece, we build a partnership with the artist. We want them to succeed. Which in our minds means that we want the work to advance all the way to production. CAMINOS artists become artistic offspring in a way—and we will not abandon them. For this reason the festival offers these projects rehearsal space, dramaturgy, direction, and design support, and much more. We don’t compromise the rigour and the respect a work requires. We hope to see some of these projects as future productions in RUTAS panamericanas international performance arts festival, CAMINOS’ counterpart.
CAMINOS engages with the city and the continent. Just as with RUTAS, the conversations around performance and human rights between academics, artists, activists and audiences are a key component of the festival. They keep us all engaged and aware of each other.
And then there is our partner company, Native Earth Performing Arts. We have been building this relationship over the last four years. We have committed to each other, and we keep the conversation open, trying to discover what this coming together has to offer both our companies, and how we can keep growing our artists and audiences. For me, this partnership is about learning about an Indigenous worldview; one I believe will lead us into a better future.
From its shows, to the incredible conference conversations, to its indomitable cabaret nights — simply put, I love CAMINOS.
– Bea Pizano