Ingenuity was conceived as a movable feast: a multi-day, multi-venue event that would move among downtown locations, inviting Northeast Ohio residents and tourists to re-discover the city as alive and vibrant. IngenuityFest animated storefronts, abandoned alleys and interiors of buildings that had long been ignored. Launched along Cleveland’s iconic Public Square, the Festival moved to Gateway/East 4th Street, Playhouse Square, the Cleveland State University campus, the Streetcar level of the Detroit Superior Bridge, and finally to Cleveland’s Northcoast Harbor, before settling in Saint Clair Superior in 2016.
Ingenuity was formed in 2004 by James Levin and Thomas Mulready as a Festival that would showcase the wide range of cultural strengths in the Northeast Ohio region, while cultivating a new intersection between the arts and technology. Each IngenuityFest draws thousands of attendees, and includes a unique array of cutting-edge work, such as NASA’s collaboration with DancEvert on a performance derived from state-of-the-art wind-tunnel technology; the Cleveland Museum of Art’s display of digital 3-D displays; and composer and technologist Phil Kline’s motion-sensing musical installation, “Symphony for 21 iPods.”
IngenuityFest has transformed downtown spaces into highly visible performance and exhibition venues, generating renewed interest in the city core. The large-scale, three-day event attracts people of all ages, and through its 100+ annual installations, exhibits, and performances, celebrates and bolsters our area’s creative workforce.
With a strategic shift starting in 2013, Ingenuity broadened its scope to become a year-round service-based organization connecting creativity to educational, community and economic development needs for our city. We added programming, including the Bal Ingénieux, celebrating Cleveland’s creative class, the Mini Maker Faire, in partnership with the Cleveland Public Library, and the Agents of Ingenuity Conversation Series. We also expanded to include consulting on placemaking and community development initiatives such as the Thrive! 105th -93rd Street Corridor, and City of Shaker Heights’ Moreland Rising initiative.
We host lectures, workshops & hackathons, and act as a leading voice for Cleveland’s maker landscape, cataloging local assets and participating in regional and national conversations with organizations like Make Media and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
After contributing to the downtown renaissance, Ingenuity sought to leverage its legacy of success by rooting efforts in the creation of an identifiable hub in an underserved neighborhood, alongside a focused network of partners. In early 2016, we began to explore the concept of a “creative cluster” through research, documentation, and visioning with a group of committed partners who would become the Hamilton Collaborative. In the spring of 2016, we identified, and signed a license agreement to activate, the former Osborn Manufacturing Company in Saint Clair Superior neighborhood. Through IngenuityLabs we welcomed small-scale pilot tenants to the site, where we also held programming, including IngenuityFest 2016. We were instrumental in working with the partners of what would become the Hamilton Collaborative to settle and sign leases on portions of the 330,000 square foot facility.
In 2017, we garnered significant support to continue this work, including the continuation of IngenuityLabs and another successful festival (IngenuityFest 2017: Metamorphosis). We look forward to developing the Hamilton Collaborative as an outward-facing, low-barrier to access community resource that stimulates economic and creative growth for the neighborhood and beyond.
Ingenuity serves all of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Our annual audience surveys show a balance of genders, attracting a broad audience from college students and families, to young urban singles and over-60 arts aficionados. A Team NEO report found that the Festival had a $4.5 million dollar economic impact in the region.
Organizations that Ingenuity has collaborated with over the years include: Case Western Reserve University, City of Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland State University, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga County, Baldwin Wallace College, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Kent State University, NASA, MOCA Cleveland, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, University Hospitals, and more.