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Imagineer: Imagine - Make - Inspire!

Jane Hytch, Imagineer Director, steers Godiva as she makes her first tentative steps. Photograph by Andy Moore. Sept 2011, courtesy of Imagineer.

Imagineer are celebrating almost two-decades of achievements as founder member and Chief Executive Jane Hytch steps down as CEO and embarks on semi-retirement at the end of 2023.

Alongside fellow founder members Kathi Leahy, Claire Maddocks and Andrea Simpson, Jane has embedded herself in the arts in Coventry growing Imagineer into a thriving organisation.

Founded in 2005, Imagineer make extraordinary outdoor and site-specific work at the intersection of art and engineering, environmental and social change. Imagineer is probably best known for its landmark Cultural Olympiad project Godiva Awakes, in which a 6m tall puppet of Lady Godiva journeyed to London by bicycle.

Imagineer also produce the Festival of Imagineers in Coventry, an annual celebration of innovation; created, produced and performed The Queen’s Favourites as part of the Platinum Jubilee.

Collaboration is at the heart of Imagineer’s work. Imagineer projects bring together artists and creative thinkers with engineers, architects, educationalists and designers. Imagineer also partner with individuals and organisations from across sectors, including universities, commercial business, local authorities and other arts organisations. Working together in this way, Imagineer are able to seed new ideas and nurture brilliance.

Jane, Kathi, Claire and Andrea in the Daimler Powerhouse, Coventry. November 2023. Image by Andrew Moore, courtesy of Imagineer.

Jane Hytch said: "I am immensely proud of what Imagineer has achieved over the last 18 years, playing a part in the growing cultural sector in Coventry, and through the meaningful engagements we’ve had with the people of Coventry, in all communities, as well as communities across the UK.

"It’s almost impossible to pick individual highlights. Whilst always hard work, the culmination of each of our projects has brought me - and all those involved - much joy and pride. Moments that come to mind include the first time the giant Godiva walked; UK fashion icon Zandra Rhodes, high up on a cherry picker fixing Godiva’s frock in a secret location in Coventry; Godiva and her Cyclopedia being chased by Hampshire police as she rode along the A5 to London during the Olympic Games; and thinking about our Chairman Roger Medwell opening The Daimler Powerhouse dressed inside a big velvet bow brings a smile to my face.

"I’m proud of the young people graduating from our Transformations programme and watching their achievements as well as nurturing young women as producers and creative leaders through projects like Bridge. So many wonderful memories along with personal and shared achievements."

Jane Hytch, Chief Executive Imagineer Productions tries out The Coventry Pedalling Games at Festival of Imagineers 2015. Photo Andrew Moore, courtesy of Imagineer.

John McGuigan, Chair of the Board at Imagineer said: “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Jane and her team for over 20 years. I’ve always believed that the ‘real’ and sustained regeneration of Coventry - Britain’s first boom city - wasn’t just about bricks and mortar, high employment or inward investment. ‘Real’ regeneration is about ‘hearts and minds’ and confidence in the city’s future.

“Quality of life, with all that means in terms of creative arts, heritage, sport and leisure, is what feeds people’s souls and their individual and collective commitment to ‘make a difference’. Jane is someone who makes a difference.

“She quickly gained trust and respect with me and all the individuals and communities she has worked with over many years. Trust and respect is earned, not demanded! It doesn’t come with a job title, with age or experience, it comes from imagination, enthusiasm, hard work and sustained commitment! That’s what Jane has - and shares - in abundance!

“Not many people can really say they changed a city and its people. Jane is someone who can! On behalf of all those individuals and communities that Jane has inspired and enthused, we say thanks.”

Jane, Kathi, Claire and Andrea at a Cultural Olympiad event in 2011. Pic by Matthew Andrews, courtesy of Imagineer.

From January 2024, Jane will begin her semi-retirement by leading the Creative Explorers programme in Nuneaton and Bedworth, working alongside Imagineer's new Creative Director and CEO Angus MacKechnie, who will take the company forward into its next exciting chapter.

Multitudes of projects, spanning 18yrs, led by four inspirational creative female leaders all rooted in the communities of Coventry – take a look at the breadth of Imagineer’s work here:


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