Insiders: Mayor Fischer pushing expanded IdeaFestival in pursuit of SXSW-level of national buzz for Louisville
Gee, maybe we really could become the “Idea Capital of the World.”
But Lousville’s IdeaFestival – which drew 14,000 people for 2011 – could gain stature, prominence and real estate as the foundation for a larger, longer convergence of intellectuals, creative types and entrepreneurs.
Insiders at an April 4 brainstorming meeting with members of city government, Greater Louisville Inc. and Kentucky Science & Technology Corp. passed on to us an internal email laying out Metro Mayor Greg Fischer’s idea for sort of a SuperIdealFestival.
The main point of the email:
As we discussed, following (GLI’s) Toronto GLIDE trip and meetings with the Toronto International Film Festival, Mayor Fischer has challenged IdeaFestival and others in the startup/innovation community to think about leveraging IdeaFestival as the catalyst to create a larger, more impactful Fall Festival in Louisville.
Think ‘South By Southeast Festival,’ a below-the-Mason-Dixon-Line version of Austin’s super-influential music/movie/interactive festival.
The ambitious expanded festival would be a way to enhance the reputations of Louisville’s start-up and innovation communities in the national spotlight, as well as way to create a bookend for the multi-week, multi-event Kentucky Derby.
IdeaFestival founder Kris Kimel deferred to Ted Smith, Fischer’s director, Department of Economic Growth and Innovation.
“(Fischer) is indeed pushing this vision,” Kimel wrote in an email. “You might want to talk to Ted Smith about this. He knows a lot more about this than I do.”
Smith said one part of the vision is to design a larger event around IdeaFestival, adding multiple downtown venues outside IdeaFestival’s current headquarters, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
“One of the features of South by Southwest is that it utilizes venues across (Austin.) I feel strongly about that, personally,” Smith said.
He acknowledged whatever comes out of the planning process will be a different breed of festival from SXSW, at least initially minus the music and consumer tech in favor of issue-driven events focused on, for example, water.
“I’m not sure where the overlap will be. We’re not starting with a standing music festival like South By Southwest” Smith said. “We’re more like TEDTalks … talking about new ideas. Chicago has Ideas Week. New York has a similar event. That could be closer to the model.”
Kimel founded IdeaFestival in 2000 as a national and international forum for new ideas and next-gen thinking across disciplines including science, art and business.
Here’s the internal email in full:
Many thanks to the 20 or so people who made it to the IdeaFestival/KSTC meeting on April 4th and thank you to Bobby for pulling this group together and hosting us at GLI.
As we discussed, following the Toronto GLIDE trip and meetings with the Toronto International Film Festival, Mayor Fischer has challenged IdeaFestival and others in the startup/innovation community to think about leveraging IdeaFestival as the catalyst to create a larger, more impactful Fall Festival in Louisville. This extended festival, a bookend to 2 – 3 weeks of Derby Festival in the spring, would be focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and “disruptive thinking,” helping further establish Louisville as an innovative and entrepreneurial hub. Using South by Southwest as an example, if someone says he or she is going to Austin in March, we immediately know why – so how can we start to create the same type of festival awareness for Louisville in the fall?
Discussions are underway with various partners and other events/festivals about collaboration but we wanted to make sure local entrepreneurial groups, Nucleus, the ICC and others were aware of this effort.
Quick recap of discussion/suggestions:
- IdeaFestival dates for 2012: September 19 – 22
- Everyone around the table introduced themselves and Kris shared 2011 IdeaFestival Results and Recap including over 14,000 attendees.
- Kris then shared the list of confirmed speakers to date (not yet public) which is about 90% complete with plans in the works to announce initial speakers this spring (earlier than in the past).
- Kris talked about the importance of IdeaFestival’s accessible pricing model and how to leverage IdeaFestival in an “open source” manner, encouraging other independent events before, during and after but not controlling/running them specifically.
- Ceci talked about plans for community partner outreach and university outreach (the Council for Post Secondary Education is creating 25+ scholarships for students from all across the state to attend including hotels and tickets).
- Ceci and Kris talked about IF Manual plans at Manual High School April 27 – 28, a two-day program designed by and for the students who wanted to create their own program and many of whom are the speakers.
- Kris shared information on the launch of IF University to foster innovation, creativity and transformative learning on a year-round basis. IF University provides and open-source approach to learning and ideas. The IF University Campus footprint embraces the entire city, with classes/events occurring in a variety of public locations like coffee shops, libraries, schools, parks, you name it. Class and event offerings will rotate on a regular basis, all year round and will be advertised via the web, social media outlets, etc. The goal is for IdeaFestival not just to be a 4-day event in September but a year-round learning experience and part of Louisville’s “default culture.”
- He encouraged the group to think about what classes would interest them and what they might want to teach.
Initial Ideas for Fall of 2012:
- A group is already exploring creating a day called IF Water the day before IdeaFestival (September 18th from 10am – 4pm) to talk about global water issues, including people from Edge Outreach.
- Kris is working on a StartUp Slam concept with StartUp America for the evening of September 18th at the Ice House.
- Nick Such mentioned plans for a 3-day Startup Weekend potentially in September and even the weekend before IdeaFestival.
- Bobby Ferreri mentioned plans to announce the Hot Dozen the week before IdeaFestival.
- Ty Adams mentioned plans to potentially move the Vogt Awards to the fall next year to better leverage IdeaFestival timing.
- Michelle Jones recommended IdeaFestival consider more web tech and mobile app type speakers – similar to those at Mobile Lex (?) and Code PaLOUsa and Kris agreed this would be a great add-on.
- Kris mentioned IF DIY concept he has been brainstorming (satellite in your garage type creations).
- Someone else asked about how we can better take IdeaFestival to the schools vs. having them come to us.
- Michelle also recommended an infographic on “How to Use IdeaFestival.”
- Bobby mentioned UofL’s OTT Mad Scientist Mixer which also happens in the fall typically.
· Group is encouraged to think about potential collaborations and synergies before, during and after IdeaFestival this year or in the future and communicate them back to Kris and Ceci.
· Group is encouraged to think about any IF University sessions they might want to teach and share back with Kris .