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Typically, first-time festivals start small and crescendo, coming into their own a few years in. Not the case with Murmuration Festival: This celebration of the innovation and connection points in art, music, science and technology is debuting in a big way Sept. 23-25 at the Cortex Innovation Community.
Ushering Murmuration into its inaugural year are seasoned innovators Dennis Lower, CEO of Cortex, and Brian Cohen, founder of LouFest.
The multidisciplinary event is something Lower has envisioned since a party celebrating the opening of the @4240 building in October 2014: When the RSVP count hit 1,400 people—they were expecting 300—Lower says he realized a need to capture that “sense of hopefulness and celebration” about St. Louis’ innovation community. At the turn of 2016, the event sprang from an idea to a date on the calendar.
“When people see the thinking and creativity coming from the city at Murmuration, they’ll have reason to be encouraged and excited again about the St. Louis of tomorrow,” Lower says.
Not all festivals are created equal, and Murmuration’s unique attributes—a maker’s expo, interactive art installations, a large-scale Rube Goldberg machine and a Future Innovators Zone for kids—set it apart. And with four main focuses, Murmuration intentionally appeals to a wide audience.
“Whatever you’re into, chances are there’s a way for you to plug into the festival,” says Cohen. “We’re also giving people a glimpse into the future of our region. The innovation community is leading the way, and every aspect of it will be represented at the festival.”
The thought series covers topics from robots to “Art’s Ability to Predict the Future” with speakers like TechShop founder Mark Hatch traveling in just for the occasion. As for the music series, artists like Tycho and Flying Lotus anchor the out-of-the-box lineup in creativity and style. All of these offerings center around one mission: to broaden attendees’ awareness of where art, music, science, and technology intersect, while showcasing St. Louis as a city of innovation.
“The best outcome that can happen is that people will develop a new appreciation of amenities they weren’t aware of in the arts, music and tech communities,” says Phyllis Ellison, Murmuration organizer. “If we can raise the visibility of what is happening with startups and innovation across all of these avenues, then it will be a job well done.”
Like a true murmuration (the dynamic shapes starlings in flight create as they swarm together), the ideas, inspiration, knowledge and connections built at the festival can be encouraged–but they can’t be predicted. Still, Lower hopes that the event continues to move the needle for progress in St. Louis.