IngenuityFest: Dreamscapes comes to Cleveland

The annual tech and art festival combined music, art and technology to put on a thrilling weekend

By Maggie Phillips

 This year’s IngenuityFest: Dreamscapes was filled with captivating exhibits that blurred the lines between art, music and technology. Showcasing the unique culture and creativity of Cleveland, IngenuityFest gave a voice and platform for many artists and innovators to express their work and ideas. The festival, which ran for three consecutive days, attracted thousands of residents from all over Northeast Ohio.

Though the festival had previously been held in various locations around Cleveland, this is the fourth year IngenuityFest was located at the Hamilton Collaborative in the Saint Clair Superior neighborhood. Following its theme Dreamscapes, the 300,000 square-foot warehouse was transformed into a mystical wonderland, filled with attractions on three different floors, plus outside. Whether it was live music and performances, delicious food trucks or interactive art exhibits, IngenuityFest had something for everyone. 

A festival of this magnitude required many dedicated workers and volunteers to make the event possible. One such worker is current Cleveland State University student Jenna Thomas, who has been the social impact coordinator at Ingenuity for two years now. Thomas said a lot of work goes into the festival behind the scenes.

“People start preparing for Ingenuity days after the last one is over,” Thomas said. “Knowing these crazy artists, they’ll be back at IngenuityLabs building next week. It’s like exercising for them, or some other form of self-care. Plus as a staff, we start talking immediately about what went well, and more importantly, what needs to improve for next year.” 

Though she spent much of the festival hard at work, Thomas was still able to enjoy many aspects of IngenuityFest. 

“My favorite part of IngenuityFest is watching the whole event unfold,” she said. “Loading artists in and out the week before is one thing, but watching the ‘Ingeneers,’ who are our volunteer artists, build out their installations all year round in preparation for the festival is amazing. I get to watch giant installations from their sketches and first drafts, to the first couple pieces of plywood, all the way to its final form. It’s cool as hell.  During the event, seeing the flood of curious and excited faces is also super energizing.” 

Some of the aforementioned installments included a rock climbing wall, a zen garden that made different noises based on light and a kid-oriented, dreamy-like play area. Every surface of the warehouse was filled with wonderful sounds and vibrant 2D and 3D art, creating a totally memorable sensory experience.

On the music end, headliners included Friday night’s indie rock band, Speedy Ortiz, and Saturday night’s rock group, King Buffalo. There were plenty of other genres represented as well, including soul musician Kyle Kidd, EDM group Doomsquad, rapper Mellow Xzact and many more. There were also live comedy groups, a drag show and loads of talented dancers.

First-time attendee Will Canaday enjoyed the festival so much the first night, he had to return for the second. He described the festival as “the physical equivalent of a wannabe-hipster’s fever dream.” 

“Personally, this festival fulfilled an inner yearning to return back to my childish nature, even if just for a brief moment,” Canaday said.