This time last week I was jetting off to Portugal, accompanying Lucy Medleycott, Director of ISACS Ireland, to the imaginarius festival in Santa Maria da Feira, where she was attending as part of a panel of festival judges. I am so grateful to have been offered this opportunity by ISACS, as it was truly an incredible experience.
Imaginarius is a four day street art and circus festival that programmes a variety of styles for both their main programming and the ‘mais imaginarius’ programme, which features newer artists.
Every year the artists in the ‘mais imaginarius’ programming, pitches their shows to network directors and festival programmers in attendance, in addition to performing throughout the festival. Judges are invited to score the performances in this programming, and the winner is offered further support and an opportunity to return to the festival for the next year to share new work.
Throughout my time at imaginarius, I was able to attend the pitching session where I was able to see the artists of the ‘mais imaginarius’ programme in action, where they pitched the concepts for their shows to network directors and programmers. This was a fantastic experience as I learnt what was necessary for a pitch of this style, and I was really able to get a great idea of what works well and not so well in such presentations.
Furthermore, not only did I get to attend several street arts and circus performances while attending the festival, but I also got to network with festival programmers, network directors and other artistic professionals working in arts and culture throughout Portugal and wider Europe. This was a phenomenal opportunity, and I am delighted to have built some very solid relationships with festival programmers I met there. I’m confident that this experience, nd more specifically, this ability to network so closely with others at imaginarius, will lead to new opportunities in the future. I’m so happy to have grown my network in such a powerful way while I was there, which was only one of many elements that made this experience so useful as an emerging street and circus artist.
This golden opportunity to network really was the cherry on the cake of what was truly a fantastic festival and a great opportunity to see new work, become inspired and to experience and understand how the street arts and circus festival operates and what is expected of artists and companies for performing at a festival of this kind.
And, of course, I cannot complete this blog without thanking the staff of the imaginarius festival, in particular, Telma Luís, who, along with her team, looked after us so well, not only when it came to experiencing the city and seeing all that imaginarius had to offer in the context of performance, but for leading us through a fantastic gastronomic experience throughout our stay. With thanks to imaginarius and the great support of the municipality, we got to taste and experience the best food, beverage and restaurants that Santa Maria de Feria has to offer. This made for such a fantastically rich festival experience, and one that I believe will be hard to beat!
This opportunity was made possible through the support of ISACS Ireland, and I thank them profusely for this opportunity which has allowed me to expand my awareness of the sector, grow my professional artistic network, and grow my confidence and clarity in my career direction as I continue to pursue circus and street performance as a new discipline within my multidisciplinary practice as a theatre performer and maker.
For anyone who is curious, I highly recommend trying to make it to next year’s imaginarius festival- you are bound to have a phenomenal time, and see great work while you’re at it!!