What’s your transition? Ingenuity evolves along with the city and community
Now in it’s tenth year, Ingenuity Cleveland’s mission to reinvigorate and reinterpret the city through the creative arts has evolved from it’s roots as a movable, multi-day and multi-venue festival into a yearlong programming schedule – and this year’s theme “Transition” refers not only to changes taking place within festival itself, but speaks to the region’s transition in the national culture itself.
Featured at the festival this year is a campaign called “What’s Your Transition?” that exhibits not just the festival’s story but a number of large-scale entities around town who have gone through their own transitions. The festival takes place Oct. 2-4 at Voinovich Park in Cleveland and features an array of music, artistic programming, performances, hands-on activities and large-scale art installations.
“We used to say that we animated Cleveland’s spaces through the intersection of art and technology,” said Emily Appelbaum, program director for Ingenuity. “That is definitely still true. Animated spaces with world-class programming is definitely a piece of the mission. But we’re not called upon to activate these forgotten about places in Cleveland anymore because there aren’t too many places in downtown Cleveland that are still forgotten about.
“Now we kind of think about it as taking that same idea, to activate underutilized resources and instead applying it to the artistic community itself,” she said.
Appelbaum, a native Clevelander, is brand-new to Ingenuity, with 2015 being her first festival. She grew up in the area, and studied architecture at Yale before heading west to work at the intersection of architecture, community organizing and public art. She returned to Cleveland about a year ago, and worked with LAND studio, who helped redesign Public Square, before joining Ingenuity in the spring.
Investing in the Northeast Ohio community through a creative, rather than physical landscape, is inclusive of not only visual studio arts. On the other side of the spectrum from traditional gallery artists, Ingenuity is a showcase for builders, makers and tinkerers of all sorts. In addition, this creative landscape is inclusive of the region’s wealth of industry and manufacturing as well.
“We have a long history of making things here (in Northeast Ohio),” Appelbaum said. “We have a long history of fabricating, manufacturing and industry. Right now is the time when those activities are really in the national conversation. We’re returning manufacturing to America, but doing it in a way that’s all about creativity and innovation.
“Cleveland is extremely well situated for that.”
In the same way the festival has grown from its roots utilizing physical spaces, Ingenuity helps to build the connections between these facets through collaboration, integrated projects and functionality.
“It’s about reinvesting in the community, and helping projects grow that will strengthen that community,” Appelbaum said.
In the spirit of collaboration, Ingenuity brings in people from all over as collaborators. This year, artists are coming from places like California, Colorado, New York and Toronto as well as nearer locations like Pennsylvania, Chicago and Toledo.
San Francisco artist Tom Franco, brother of actor James Franco, who started several community-based art spaces in the bay area, is coming to work directly with local artist Guerin Wolf. The two are working together on a large-scale installation called “Pipe Dreams,” a collaborative, community-built art project.
Ingenuity is a nonprofit that works through corporate sponsorships, something that’s very important to the festival, according to Appelbaum.
“Rather than simply approaching corporate partners and having them slap their name on a sign, we try to build highly-specific programs that further their mission and our own,” she said. “That might be having them come out and showcase a new product in an interesting way – and by product I mean something that the artistic community will benefit from.”
One of those partners this year is HGR, a large-scale industrial surplus distributor who gets “all kinds of crazy equipment,” according to Appelbaum, one-of-a-kind pieces like what would come from an old factory. They are sponsoring a project onsite called Iron Architects, allowing people to build site-specific installations around the clock during the festival.
For those who wish to volunteer, donate or contribute, Appelbaum emphasized that there are ample opportunities.
“We raise money up until the day the festival starts,” she said. “There are still opportunities for corporate exhibitors, definitely for volunteers – we’re looking for the entire creative community to come together and build this event.
“This should be an event by the community, for the community. We’re here to facilitate and help build new collaborations, but ultimately the event should grow into what the community here wants to see it as.”
Ingenuity is free to attend. Event organizers suggest a $10 donation. The festival takes place Oct. 2-4. On Friday Oct. 2 the hours are 5 p.m. to 1 a.m, Saturday Oct. 3 noon to 1 a.m. and Sunday Oct. 4 noon to 5 p.m.
Since publication of this story on Sept. 17, ticket prices have undergone a change. VIP tickets are available that grant access to special programming, tastings and talks were at a cost of $45 or $70 for a pair. The prices have been updated, and tickets for the VIP Salon are now only $20 each. They are available through Eventbrite under the heading Ingenuity VIP (Very Ingenious Person) Experience.
Ingenuity has also created a passport that allows visitors access to the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a discounted rate during the festival, which takes places Oct. 2-4. The cost for the passport is $30, also available through Eventbrite at Ingenuity Passport.