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Public encouraged to join community celebrating life and work of Sir Ken Robinson

01 March 2021

Members of the public have been encouraged to join a global community and participate in a virtual festival that will celebrate the life and work of Sir Ken Robinson.

Derry City and Strabane District Council recently hosted the 'Sir Ken Robinson - In his Element, 10 years on' virtual event and the recording of this event will be part of the international Imagine If.... Festival that has been creatively designed and curated by Nevergrey, which is run by Sir Ken's daughter and son in law and which serves as his global head office. It has also been selected for inclusion in the Cannes Lions Digital Festival, Lions Live.

Sir Ken Robinson is known worldwide for his life work on creativity and challenging the educational systems for children. As an educationalist he inspired the hearts and minds of countless people and provided influential advice to the government, commerce and arts sectors. Sir Ken's first visit of three to the City was in March 2011 after the City had been awarded the inaugural UK City of Culture and speaking to an audience of approximately 200 people he shared his thoughts on the importance of creativity in everything we do. The Imagine If.....Festival provided a special opportunity to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this talk that Sir Ken called 'In Your Element'.

The Imagine If.... Festival takes place between 1st – 4th March and 'Sir Ken Robinson - In his Element, 10 years on' will be broadcast on Monday 1st March 2021 at 4pm where viewers can hear from event chairperson Aideen McGinley and Sir Ken's daughter Kate alongside the panel of speakers including Sir Phil Redmond, CBE Chair of the UK City of Culture; John Kelpie, DCSDC Chief Executive; Jennifer Neff, CEO & Co-founder of Elemental; Marty Melarkey, Director Nerve Centre; and Noelle McAlinden, Educator, Artist and Activist. The speakers reflected on Sir Ken's talk and shared their Imagine Ifs in looking forward.

Oonagh McGillion, Council's Director of Legacy, explained more about Sir Ken's role within the city and district, and why Council felt it was important to be involved.

"Sir Ken Robinson was a great friend of our city and district, and his teachings and work inspired so many people locally and regionally. I remember so vividly his talk in the City Hotel and the feelings he evoked in the audience. He raised ambitions and reminded us that whilst the seeds of possibility can lie dormant for many years, once you have the right conditions anything is possible.

"Many will have heard the phrase to be 'in your element', but Sir Ken really encouraged and challenged everyone to delve deeper and find exactly what their 'element' is. I don't think there is anyone who heard Sir Ken speak and wasn't deeply struck by his words.

"Our recent event marking the ten year anniversary of his 'In Your Element' talk in Derry attracted so much interest from a variety of sectors, and the conversations shared before, during and after the event showed that Sir Ken's words continue to resonate with and inspire so many. I think the mark that he left here is typified by the number of people from all sectors who continue to speak so highly of him and who have lived out his teachings and helped to change the lives of others.

She continued: "As a Council we were delighted to be invited by Sir Ken's team to join the 'Imagine if…' Festival and it was an honour to have Sir Ken's daughter Kate speak at our event and share her vision on the vital work of embedding Sir Ken's legacy. The invitation to be part of the Imagine If Festival has unlocked for the Council a further international opportunity to be involved with the prestigious Cannes Lion to promote the work of Sir Ken.

"I would encourage everyone to register for the Imagine If Festival on imagine-if.com and  to the Lions Live https://lionslive.canneslions.com/ to participate and enjoy a programme of  inspiration and creativity. "

Kate Robinson, Sir Ken's Daughter, said: "Dad's work in Northern Ireland, through the Unlocking Creativity Report and later with Derry City of Culture was both hugely important to him personally and professionally. My mother's family being from County Down, Northern Ireland held a special place in Dad's heart, and the legacy that Derry City of Culture created is in many ways a real testament to what happens when a community embraces his messages and truly lives and breathes the spirit of creativity and of collaboration. It was a real honour to speak at this event for Imagine if…'s fringe festival, and frankly a celebration of Dad would not have been complete without paying proper tribute to his love of Northern Ireland."

Aideen McGinley, event chairperson, said: "It was striking how the speech Sir Ken gave 10 years ago is even more relevant in today's context of uncertainty with a deadly global pandemic, coping with the fallout of Brexit, facing the consequences of climate change and riding the wave of a digital revolution. The inspiration and energy of the event augers well for the creative future of the City and District with the exciting announcement of the City Deal."

A recording of the event will be published on 1 March as part of Imagine if… Fringe Festival.