By late June, the Ingenuity Festival office, with its green stop sign that reads "go" and its walls covered with plans scribbled on white paper, has become a meeting place of people whose lives rarely intertwine: Performing artists and developers, corporate honchos and reporters, production people and nonprofit representatives.
These individuals have invested in the city’s first-ever festival spotlighting arts and technology, happening downtown Sept. 1 through 4. At one meeting, about a dozen people listen as co-directors Thomas Mulready and James Levin relay the good news and the bad.
The budget had to be scaled back from about $1.4 million to $800,000 on this "very humble pilot year," Levin says. About 188 performances and exhibitions are scheduled over the four days at about 20 different venues. This may seem like a lot to the arts festival novice. But Mulready and Levin envision a much larger event — one that stretches over two weeks and three weekends. "A moveable feast," Levin calls it, which will migrate from lower Euclid Avenue (Public Square to East Ninth Street and East Fourth Street) to the Flats in 2006, where he hopes 1,000 drums will open it, and an internationally known fire artist will light the Cuyahoga River ablaze. Deep Purple and The Cleveland Orchestra play "Smoke on the Water." But they’re getting ahead of themselves.
First, this year’s festival.
The donations have totaled less than they’d hoped but more than many thought they’d receive. The Cleveland Foundation and The George Gund Foundation awarded grants. Other support has come from the Cuyahoga County commissioners, Peter Lewis, Albert Ratner and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. IMG has met with Levin and Mulready weekly. Advertising agency Liggett-Stashower has provided loads of pro-bono help.
What they’re working to produce is a celebration of art and culture ranging from the classical to the cutting edge. Things can change until the last moment. But for now it looks as if The Galleria will house a visual art exhibit. The Cleveland Trust rotunda will become the "technology temple." The East Fourth Street alley will hold the offbeat performances.
"Cleveland’s never seen anything like this," Levin says.
And if all goes according to plan, he could say the same thing next year.
For more information, visit www.ingenuitycleveland.org.