The Scottish International Children’s Festival

Imaginate was born!

In 2000, Imaginate was launched as a year-round organisation dedicated to ensuring that every child in Scotland has access to high-quality performing arts – with the Children’s Festival at the heart of its calendar.

Abigail Carney, Imaginate’s first Marketing Officer, explains: “We created Imaginate to support and develop the understanding and demand for work for children and young people. We started touring festival productions around Scotland, created a showcase [WYSIWYG – read more in 1999] and launched a delegate package for the festival to encourage more producers and venue managers to come and see and book the work. We had belief and commitment; you know when you are on to something that’s right.”

Did you know… ?

Abigail explains how Imaginate got its name

“The agency said, we’ve got it! There was a little easel on the table with a cloth over it, and they did the big reveal… and my heart sank. It was ‘Sparks’ – standing for Scottish Performing Arts for Kids in Scotland and I just knew it was wrong. It was wrong for two reasons – we don’t call them kids, and there is a medical charity called Sparks.

“So I went back – again boardroom, again easel, again cloth and another big reveal. But it was worse! There was a happy mask and a sad mask with the word ‘Showtime’ above it. I said, ‘Look, it’s about children. It’s about what happens when they go and see a piece of theatre and that transformative, transportative effect it can have on them. It’s simply about sparking their creativity and their imagination.’

“The third time, there was same easel on the table… and they revealed the word Imaginate. That was it! I remember going home that night and saying to my little boy, who would have been six, ‘We’ve made a new word – Imaginate’. He said, ‘That’s not a new word, mummy. You imaginate things’. I just loved it.”

BBC Scotland’s Arts Correspondent Pauline McLean and former Imaginate chair of the board Jim Tough share their Festival memories

The Argent Report

Commissioned by a task force of industry experts, Sarah Argent’s report was released in July 2000. An official study into the networks and provisions for children’s theatre and dance in Scotland, it provided invaluable research that helped the sector pitch for greater funding and support. As a result, Imaginate advertised for a new member of staff to specialise in creative development: jump to 2002 to find out more.