In 2021, Portugal’s largest street arts festival, Imaginarius, celebrates both its 20th edition and its 20 years of existence, a feat that will be marked with the local, national and international artistic community, and with its audiences, in two distinct moments: in May, in a digital format, and, in September, on its usual stage, the public space of Santa Maria da Feira.
The City Council of Santa Maria da Feira has just announced that this year’s Imaginarius – International Street Theatre Festival will take place on two different dates: from 27 to 30 May, on the digital stage, and between 9 and 12 September, in the public space and in municipal facilities, with “The Myth and the Brand” as its theme. The format will be different, as the pandemic reality demands, but the festival maintains the innovative, creative and quality character that over these 20 years has kept artists and the public loyal to it.
“It was out of the question not to organize our Imaginarius, which is an unquestionable showcase for the creativity and culture of Santa Maria da Feira, domestically and abroad”, stressed Emídio Sousa, Mayor of Santa Maria da Feira. “We are going to do it strategically, presenting a solution that will provide employment to the Culture Sector, which has been so devastated by the pandemic, while providing Culture to the people without jeopardizing public health”, he explained, adding that, in September, shows in the public space will comply with all public health and safety recommendations.
For the councillor responsible for Culture, Gil Ferreira, this strategy “allows us to hope to present the face-to-face activities of the festival, adapted, of course, to the new normal, before the end of the summer of 2021”. In a constantly changing world, “we must have the courage to take on what is new. The digital and green transitions were the main strategic objectives of this governance cycle for Culture”, he stressed, adding that now “we really have the opportunity to put into practice the path of preparation that already started before the pandemic”. The council member does not doubt that the Imaginarius of the future “will have an increasingly mixed format, working in the presence and digital dual dimension, attentive to the potentialities of reach and characteristics of the audiences of the future”.
The programme for this 20th edition of Imaginarius, which will be presented to the public during the month of April, will feature shows from the last edition, which did not take place – a commitment made by the Municipality of Feira to the artists when it chose to cancel the edition due to COVID-19, having even advanced the payment of 50% of the contract value – and also with projects resulting from the five Public Calls launched by the municipality: Mais Imaginarius, Support for Local Creation, Digital Arts, Urban Art and Documentary Film .
Of the 109 applications submitted in the five Public Calls for Imaginarius’21, from all over Portugal and 20 countries in Europe and the World – South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Spain, France, Greece , Hungary, England, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Poland, Czech Republic – 11 projects were selected and two honourable mentions were given in various artistic disciplines, such as performing arts, circus, dance, multidisciplinary installation , music and theatre.
The year 2021 will mark both the 20th anniversary and the 20th edition of one of the reference festivals for Street Arts in Portugal and in Europe, Imaginarius, which was built over these two decades from different communities, living entities and the festival’s participants, a remarkable journey that one will continue to follow and participate in, from 27 to 30 May, on the digital stage, and from 9 to 12 September, on the great stage that is Santa Maria da Feira.