Imaginarium Festival: behind the scenes of an excellent student initiative

The third Imaginarium Festival, the music festival organized in Compiègne by UTC students, took place on May 14 and 15 - and the fourth festival’s planning is already underway. Make use of figures and pictures to take a look back at a show that is a true success in terms of programming, audience size, and organization. This event increasingly highlights the interplay with other events and student associations at Sorbonne University.


21 groups and 24 hours of music over two days

Lilly Wood & The Prick, Hyphen Hyphen (“Revelation” category at the 2016 Victoires de la Musique awards), Synapson, Naâman and many more: in 2016, the Imaginarium Festival again attracted big names and rising stars from the French music scene. 

From the beginning, however, this festival has also been an opportunity to promote Sorbonne University’s younger stars. For the second year in a row, the winner of Sorbonne Live was welcomed to the stage. Sorbonne Live is a competition aimed at young groups with at least one member who is studying, or has studied, at one of Sorbonne University’s member institutions. The winner in 2016 was Moritz.

Moritz - Imaginarium Festival 2016

Almost 10,000 festival-goers: the gamble has paid off

With 6,000 festival-goers in the first year, 7,000 in 2015 and 9600 in 2016, the event is attracting a growing audience, primarily from Compiègne and the surrounding areas but also, and increasingly so, from Amiens, Lille, Rouen, Paris, and beyond. This year, the number of camping spaces on offer for festival-goers coming from far away actually had to be increased from 1,500 to 1,800 spaces.  

To grow the festival audience, the organizers are increasing the number of communications tools used – targeted messages on social networks, posters in all stations in the Oise region and at bus stops, flyers – and boosting press relations: the 2016 event was the subject of numerous articles (Le Parisien, Le Courrier picard, etc.) and even a report on France 3 Picardie

Public - Imaginarium Festival 2016

Only two years to balance the books

Thanks to the confidence of Sorbonne University, Imaginarium made it through its first year and, as of its second year, had a balanced budget. This is quite a performance, given that its budget is no less than €450,000. The takings (ticket sales and refreshments) cover between 70% and 75% of this figure. The rest comes from subsidies, mainly from Sorbonne University and local authorities, as well as from certain companies.  

At the helm were 80 volunteers – who were no amateurs!

The achievement is even more remarkable since the Imaginarium Festival only relies on a few professionals: a sound and lighting provider and, as of this year, a stage manager and a press officer. 

Apart from these three positions, everything is orchestrated by a student association, comprising 80 members in 2016, mainly from UTC and the rest from the neighboring school of chemistry, Escom. However, this is an association organized as a genuine start-up with an office driving all of the operations and centers, which each have specific tasks: concerts, logistics, refreshments, communications and so on. 

Adrien Naz, a student at UTC and president of the 2016 Imaginarium Festival, emphasized that, ‘For security, so as to be credible with regard to the artists, local authorities and audience, we needed to be very thorough.  As such, our training is an asset: at UTC, we learn how to be rigorous. Moreover, from the beginning we have benefited from valuable advice from the team at Tigre, the performance hall that hosts the festival. This support also helped us to make it through the first year.’ 

The result? While at the beginning artists were rather reluctant to appear at a new festival and, what’s more, one organized by students, the initial concerns soon disappeared. 

The reinforcements: other student associations at Sorbonne University

Apart from concerts, the festival offers plenty of entertainment from the UTC student associations and from other Sorbonne University institutions. The BAC-BDE at UPMC, for example, organized board and skill games. TV Jussieu and TéléSorbonne produced photo and video reports, which will enrich communications about the festival. The Imaginarium Festival is, therefore, increasingly becoming a unifying event for Sorbonne University students. 

Animations - Imaginarium Festival 2016

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