Summer is on the horizon, and with it are North York Arts’ July festival programs Cultura Festival and Sunday Serenades. NYA is thrilled to announce the addition of Fanny Martin to our team, who will be producing both festivals!

Fanny, who has diverse arts festival production experience, brings a unique expertise to Cultura Festival and Sunday Serenades that will build on the successes of years past while implementing strategies for new and innovative visitor experiences.

Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from and your interests.

I grew up in a small village near Paris where community music was really important. My father was a leader in the local marching band, and my earliest musical memory is to bang the snare drum in a parade. Playing, listening and making live music happen has been a constant thread in my life. Before coming to Toronto, I spent 10 years in the UK, where I worked with festivals, orchestras and music education programs.

How did you get into festival production?

Besides music, my other passion is books, so I studied literature then business with a view to get into the circulation side of publishing – my aim is always to share what I love! A chance encounter led me to work on an international conference. I was warned that I might catch the event management bug, which I did indeed. The next step was to combine music and events, and I got my start at the Manchester Jazz Festival, which led to many other opportunities, as a producer and consultant.

What can we expect with Cultura this year?

Hopefully sunshine! Weather is always a concern but we’ve just got to plan for all scenarios. Rain or shine, we’ll bring Mel Lastman Square to life with food, roaming buskers, pop-up bands, family animations – that’s all in the first part of the event, from 6 to 8pm – then we’ve got some fantastic international bands lined up for main stage, and when the sun comes down we’ll put the giant screen up and all watch a great film under the stars. There’s a lot going on and we design the experience so that everyone can choose their own adventure on the Square!

How do you envision a successful festival strategy?

When planning a festival, we’re always oscillating between the minuscule details and the very large picture, taking in everything in between. Some decisions have an immediate result on the audience experience – for example, making sure there are enough washrooms on site – and others can have far-ranging repercussions, for example on artists’ careers and local businesses. Another key element of success is to bring specialists together – programmers, technicians, marketers, fundraisers – and get them to coordinate their efforts to deliver on time, even if they have very different ways of working and sometimes different priorities. That’s why it takes a lot of time and imagination, and it’s very important for me to have a collaborative, mutually-beneficial approach.

Cultura Festival and Sunday Serenades run every Friday and Sunday in July, respectively, at Mel Lastman Square. To learn more go to


Interview by: Brett Cormier

Development and Communications Intern