As the Festival of Imagineers closes in we continue our interview with their founder

We are bringing you the second part of our amazing interview with Claire Maddocks, founder of ‘Imagineer’ and producer of the upcoming ‘Festival of Imagineers’ (FOI). We can’t wait for the week-long extravaganza exploring art, design and engineering through unmissable, innovative experiences and performances.

We quizzed Claire on the importance of creativity and culture in the City, whether we really have a chance with the UK City of Culture bid and their ambitious plans to build the FOI into a major international festival in 2021. We know one thing, ‘Imagineer’ are a bunch of truly inspiring people. Festival runs between 25-30th September 2017 so get those dates in your diary!

Why do you think creativity and cultural involvement is so important in people’s lives?
This is always a difficult question to answer – it’s probably completely subjective, I was hugely struck by Helen Marriages take on this in the Arts Council report Making the Most of Outdoor Arts commissions after the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, her words have been inspirational to me in developing the ethos and programming criteria for the FOI :

“It’s easy to point to the material benefits of our work: the economic impact when we roll into town; the number of jobs we create, the number of artists we employ; the number of new commissions; the bed-nights; the meals eaten in restaurants; the increase in car-parking fees; even the satisfaction in the audience or local authority.  Much harder to answer is why it matters.  This question takes us into areas that are difficult to map but might include wellbeing, spiritual enlightenment, personal and political transformations, the creation of a more whole society in a fragmented city, the power of the ephemeral to last in the mind forever.”

Coventry is bidding to be the UK City of Culture 2021 but what do you think needs to happen within the City to maximise our chance of success?
I believe that major cultural events be it Olympic games, City of culture, European, Capital of Culture or whatever have to both inspire and engage people at a local level if they are to make a difference to people’s lives and not just become a marketing exercise – in practice this means achieving a good balance in the programme between developing and supporting locally rooted work and inviting ambitious national and international artists/work which can inspire the local community and complement the local programme – I think Coventry must integrate both elements working together in its programme if we are to succeed.

Over the next 5 years ‘Imagineer Productions’ has ambitious plans to build the FOI into a major international festival in 2021.

How do you plan to achieve this?
Over the past three years we have been laying the foundations for a series of landmark projects which build the FOI programme and will come to fruition over the next 4 – 5 years. We have been establishing partnerships with a range of local, national and international artists, producers and businesses and have a clear plan to create some world class large-scale projects and performances that will take the FOI to the next level which will place Coventry at centre stage for spectacular outdoor work at the intersection of art and engineering by 2021 – we hope we will be able to publicly announce more about our programme and partnerships later this year – watch this space!

How important do you think it is for festivals such as FOI to make arts and culture accessible to all?
As public arts funding declines and the cost of participating in many arts/cultural events rises correspondingly, outdoor arts festivals and events which engage new arts attenders become more and more important. Outdoor arts festivals are uniquely democratic and accessible within the cultural sector and provide access to the arts to the widest possible audience – a big part of FOI is about democratising culture and exploring the relation between art, communities and public spaces and collaborating with unlikely bedfellows to engage people who may not normally see themselves as consumers/ co-creators of of arts/culture e.g. engineers, public health specialists etc

If you could sum up the ‘Festival of Imagineers’ in one sentence, what would it be?
An eclectic mix of immersive experiences and performances which bring together art, design and engineering in a vibrant, interactive experience, that reimagines Coventry as a playable city at the intersection of arts and engineering

Part 2 of our Festival feature dropping Thursday 21st September. Until then you can find out more at www.festivalofimagineers.co.uk.


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