Over 3,000 Artists creating
Over 1 million people attending
Over 1,200 visual arts installations
Over 900 performances
Luminaria was proposed in 2008 by then-mayor Phil Hardberger, a passionate supporter of the arts who was inspired by two night-time multi-genre festivals; Nuit Blanche in Paris, and Madrid’s Noche Blanca. Mayor Hardberger and his team of volunteer organizers recognized that the creative community of San Antonio deserves a night arts festival. And in a city renowned for annual public celebrations, Luminaria would hold a unique role; to spotlight the arts as an important part of city life, while illuminating our historic downtown as a reimagined creative space. It’s a role that Luminaria has fulfilled every year.
Since March 2008, San Antonio artists have created new theatrical and dance performances, film screenings, light projections, creative demonstrations, live music ranging from garage bands to orchestras, and other challenging new site-specific experiences. And each year, Luminaria has grown. The footprint has changed and expanded to embrace an ever-larger audience, local artists invited national and international collaborators, and the arts community came to see Luminaria as a chance to experiment, collaborate, and innovate on a large scale.
For its first three years, Luminaria lit up the historic downtown surrounding the Alamo, with special emphasis on spaces in transition. 2008 took place in Alamo Plaza, along Peacock Alley, and within then-empty storefronts on Navarro Street. In 2009, New Media students from UTSA staged a pop-up exhibition space in the soon-to-be-renovated Convention Center, while visual artists occupied the empty shop windows of the old Joske’s department store. Eventually festivities even pushed past its original Alamo-adjacent boundaries, up Alamo Street to include performing arts at Magik Theatre and in La Villita.
Luminaria illuminated Hemisfair Park from 2011through 2013. The arts festival invigorated the park’s under-used gazebos with techno bands and its storage sheds with video art, enlivened its abandoned structures with temporary exhibitions and brightened dark walkways with light sculptures. The audience grew, and participating artists came from as far away as Korea. Luminaria’s years at Hemisfair brought the arts to the old fairground premises, before the massive, ongoing re-development plans were underway.
In 2014, Luminaria returned to its roots on city streets. The River North neighborhood footprint included the Main Library, the Southwest School of Art, the Riverwalk and the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, but it also spread across acres of workaday city environment. True to form, Luminaria artists shone in unnoticed downtown surroundings. They created a disco in a parking lot, a free pinball parlor in a warehouse, original murals on bare walls, and transformed an exterior wall of the Main Library and river-level street overpass bridges into pop-up video projection screens. The festival also expanded from one March evening to two nights in the Fall, with original programming for each night.
Luminaria has become a creative incubator for cutting-edge new work, and highlights San Antonio as a city of the arts. A changing roster of directors, curators, producers, and advisory boards built a brilliant history. Starting in 2015, for the first time in its history, Luminaria is led by a full-time, year-round, Executive Director, Kathy Armstrong, who guides an enormous team of artists, workers, volunteers, and towards this year’s Luminaria, to take place November 9 - 12, 2016. Luminaria has plans to build our contemporary arts night into the future, with expanded opportunities for San Antonio’s artists, audiences, neighborhoods, voices, and our increasingly important creative economy.
Luminaria is an independent non-profit organization.
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS OF LUMINARIA, 2008-2014
2008 Marise McDermott, Witte Museum Henry Muñoz, Kell-Muñoz Architects Janet Holliday, The CE Group 2009 Marise McDermott, Witte Museum Matthew Drutt, Artpace 2010 Paula Owen, Southwest School of Art George Cisneros, Urban-15 Group 2011 Richard Rosen, The Magik Theatre Susanne Cooper 2012 Richard Rosen, The Magik Theatre Chris Sauter Melissa Marlowe, Northwest Vista College 2013 Richard Rosen, The Magik Theatre Melissa Marlowe, Northwest Vista College Kathy Armstrong, Southwest School of Art 2014 Noah Khoshbin Ethel Shipton
2015Marisela BarreraPaige BerryRiley RobinsonAdam RochaChris SmartAnna Stothart
Meet the 2016 team
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