Celebrating two decades of Imagineer

CEO Jane Hytch to step down during birthday celebrations.

Coventry-based arts group Imagineer are celebrating almost two-decades of achievements as founder member and Chief Executive Jane Hytch steps down to embark 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, housed in the Daimler Powerhouse with National Portfolio investment from Arts Council England, and with a strong future ahead with new CEO and Creative Director Angus MacKechnie.

Founded in 2005, the original founding directors of Imagineer, had the imagination, initiative and enthusiasm to see that arts, culture and creative industries had a real and growing role to play in Coventry and Warwickshire’s future.
Jane has been at the helm of a multitude of groundbreaking arts events that have brought joy and creativity to tens of thousands of people across Coventry and around the world, as well as bringing in millions of pounds in funding to the city from major arts projects from Godiva Awakes and the creation of their giant Godiva to the multi-million pound restoration of historic Daimler building into a dynamic creative space. Jane’s work was recently honoured with an honorary doctorate by Coventry University.

Jane Hytch, current Chief Executive at Imagineer 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.

Godiva Awakes at Artem

“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; and Godiva and her Cyclopedia being chased by Hampshire police as she rode along the A5 to London during the Olympic Games.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

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. Part of that includes the Transformations project that has been awarded £440k investment from the Reaching Communities fund (National Lottery), which will allow the programme to continue for three more years – working with 16-29 year olds in Coventry and also now Nuneaton and Bedworth.

Multitudes of projects, spanning eighteen years, led by four inspirational creative female leaders all rooted in the communities of Coventry. You can take a look at the breadth of Imagineer’s work here.