What's next after Spotlight on Scotland?

Interview with Paul Fitzpatrick following Imaginate and Creative Scotland's Cultural Spotlight at Showcase 2019 in Philadelphia

"The Cultural Spotlights are about much more than just the work, because you get an idea of what happens in that region, in that country, and then it opens up new conversations that could go anywhere really. I think one of the things I've enjoyed most in the last couple of years is seeing those Cultural Spotlights." 

- Paul Fitzpatrick, Imaginate Chief Executive

image by Kate Raines

This year, Imaginate celebrated 30 years of the Edinburgh International Children's Festival. They released an interactive timeline on their website tracking the history of the festival since its founding in 1989 and its beginnings in Edinburgh's Inverleith park, to its current international influence. Imaginate's impact on Scottish performing arts for young people is undeniable. 

"I think, alongside the Festival, there's been a whole education about what children's theatre can be and could be", says Gill Robertson, Catherine Wheels' Artistic Director, quoted on the timeline. See it for yourself to learn more about the many lives of the festival.

In January 2019, a delegation of 19 Scottish artists, producers and companies presented a Cultural Spotlight on Scotland at IPAY Showcase in Philadelphia. Working in partnership with Creative Scotland, they focused on some of the leading work in Scotland today, introduced Showcase delegates to new artists, and reacquainted us with some familiar faces. Their hope was that this Spotlight would create new connections and-most importantly-facilitate opportunities to bring the very best Scottish theatre and dance to young audiences throughout the world.

In a moment of pause during this year's celebrations, Imaginate's Chief Executive, Paul Fitzpatrick sat down with IPAY Engagement Manager, Sam Tower, to catch up about some early outcomes from their Spotlight on Scotland Cultural Spotlight.

The focus of Kindling 2019 was IMPACT; identifying it, measuring it, and evaluating it. Exactly what kind of impact are we are looking for, and how will we know when it happens? When asked about the impact of their Cultural Spotlight with Creative Scotland, Paul spoke about how Imaginate surveyed the artists who participated.

"We asked two questions. How many potential leads, and how many did you think would come to fruition? And also, has there been a new contact yet? For that one, I didn't expect there to be much because it had only been two weeks," Paul says.  "The response was incredible. The amount of potentials from the people who responded was up to 150 leads, which is a huge amount. That's over 10 potentials each, and there was a huge amount of responses already"

"So many people said it has been such a valuable experience in terms of the future life of their work, and also as professional development as artists or producers."

Scottish artists and producers found themselves having new conversations they hadn't anticipated.  "I know that people were surprised by the different levels. I always expected mainly touring opportunities and agent representation, but the amount of other types of conversations, particularly around creative collaborations...I thought that was really quite exciting. Because for whatever reason, people may not necessarily associate that with IPAY, because it is known as a showcase marketplace. But actually, people are going there and they're having conversations about what's possible about collaborating artistically."

For Imaginate, that creative connection is a really promising result. "So many people said it has been such a valuable experience in terms of the future life of their work, and also as professional development as artists or producers, wherever they sit."

As champions of new work in development, they are excited to see Scottish artists build on these relationships, and navigate new territory in North America through partnerships, touring, and cross-pollination. Paul remarks on the platform that a Cultural Spotlight provides at Showcase; "Friday morning, our booth was electric! After we did that Spotlight, it was electric! I think people underestimate how powerful presenting high quality media is to an audience, whether it's sound or visuals, just to get that conversation started."
This isn't just a feeling they had in the exhibit hall. Their survey results speak for themselves.  "There's really hard evidence, that was a really wide group of people. Some people it was their first IPAY, some people were old hands. And they all got something really tangible and valuable out of it."

Six months after the first survey, they will send out another one like it to see how many of those leads have turned into commitments, continuing to gauge what the real impact has been through quantifiable data.

"One of the things that shifted our work at Imaginate is when we introduced discussions and talks here where artists and organizations get to exchange ideas and develop relationships. So I think there is definitely an appetite amongst that group that went to come back and present," Paul notes that there's a lot of chat going around within the Scottish delegation about what could happen next, and how they can continue to galvanize the relationships they began building at Showcase 2019. "We work with amazing people and they don't wait for somebody else to say, Yeah, now you should do something!", he says.

IPAY and Imaginate both look forward to seeing where all these conversations will lead, and how the dialogues will continue in the Exhibit Hall, in Kindling sessions, and in between performances at Showcase 2020!

Meet the Spotlight on Scotland Artists and Producers

Images link to artists' and producers' websites.

Independent Arts Projects
Visible Fictions
Scottish Theatre Producers
Barrowland Ballet
Red Bridge Arts 
Catherine Wheels
21 Common
Curious Seed

International Performing Arts for Youth
For questions about how IPAY uses your information online, please email  info@ipayweb.org.

Like us on Facebook