The Idea Festival, which has brought a diverse group of top thinkers to Kentucky each fall for nearly two decades, may be over.
The festival announced Monday that it would not hold an event in September. The festival began in 2000 and the first three were held in Lexington. In 2006, it moved to Louisville and became an annual event. Over the years, speakers have included Steve Wozniak, Twyla Tharp, Richard Florida and Wynton Marsalis.
Founder Kris Kimel, who retired last month as founding president of the non-profit Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., said a pause will “allow us time to determine whether there is in fact a sustainable program and financial model for Idea Festival in Louisville.”
When the Idea Festival began, there were few others like it. Since then, many more have been organized and events and videos by the non-profit TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) organization have become very popular. All of that has caused the fees for top speakers to soar, making it difficult for the Idea Festival to bring in big names.
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The release said Thrivals@IF, an independent event on the festival’s first day focused on Louisville high school students and run by Nat Irvin of the University of Louisville, would continue this year. So will similar student events in Louisville and Bowling Green.
“We remain passionate about our vision and mission to provide a ‘space’ to promote the discussion and application of innovation, curiosity, discovery and disruptive thinking through a high-energy live event,” Kimel said. “Our hope is that this process will sustain Idea Festival to continue in its unique role in the marketplace of ideas, innovation, curiosity and relevant change.”