If romantic candlelit dinners and soppy love letters aren’t your thing, or you are merely fed up of the over-commercialised holiday and looking for an activity somewhat nonconformist come Valentine’s Day, then head to Rich Mix, Bethnal Green for IdeasTap Takeover: Love, a free five-day festival celebrating the alternative, slightly quirky, side of romance. IdeasTap, the charitable organisation devoted to supporting young creatives, is hosting Takeover: Love from 12-16 February, taking over Rich Mix in its entirety. The multidisciplinary arts festival will host a delightfully eclectic range of performance, from rehearsed readings, theatre premieres and comic storytelling, to film screenings, live music and spoken word, all revolving around the theme of love. The motif might be clichéd and well-worn, but with this unconventional spin on it, IdeasTap is bringing us something new.

All events are free to attend, and an exciting performance, be it comic, poetic or even scientific, will be taking place almost constantly throughout. North London based theatre-maker Hannah Pierce is transforming her personal blog on her failures and successes of online dating into the one woman show Hannah27 – Valiant Adventures in Online Dating. Additionally, Invertigo theatre, the HighTide Takeover and Top Up Fund Festival winner and a hotly-tipped emerging company, is also bringing something inventive and original. Its one-on-one interactive speed-dating piece on love through the ages, Miscellany, will mean you could meet all sorts of characters, from different centuries, continents and cultures. These are just two examples of a vast range of performance, with something to interest everyone. After a chat with the festival’s producer, Ellie Browning, it is clear there’s the opportunity to see some very current and adventurous work.

So, Ellie, this is the first year of IdeasTap Takeover: Love, what are your ambitions for the future of the festival?
I’d love the Takeover to become an annual event, and I think if it’s a success then it will be. Some of our acts are referring to it as a mini-Edinburgh. It’s much more financially friendly than Edinburgh as all our artists are being paid a fee to present their work, and all events are free to attend. If it were to become an annual event we’d change the theme each time to shake it up a little.

What was your inspiration for producing this festival? How did the theme of love come about?
I am a member of IdeasTap, and have received funding and support through them over the years. I wanted to be a part of something that was showcasing the work they do. They offer an incredible service to young creatives, and this festival will show off the quality and diversity of the work they support. The theme of love was simply because we had programmed the event across Valentine’s weekend and we decided to give the festival a theme to unite all of the work, and to give the artists a mutual stimulus.

There is some very eclectic performance being showcased, all by those who have been supported by IdeasTap. How important was it for you to assist these companies, and to give them the platform to be so adventurous and innovative?
IdeasTap is excited by ideas – they are less interested in the individual’s background, education, experience – as a lot of opportunities are. In my opinion this is so important, and I wanted to make sure their commitment to this was reflected in the programming. Also, these are artists that know IdeasTap well, and therefore there is a mutual understanding of what is expected. We programmed acts that we know are top quality, and they are exploring work that they know we will be excited to represent.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them?
I mostly want them to be entertained – it’s Valentine’s weekend and we want everyone to have a nice time! I’d like audiences to experience an artform that they wouldn’t normally. For example, if they have come to see a theatre show, they may stay around and watch some short films and find a gem they weren’t necessarily looking for.

Rich Mix, much like IdeasTap, is a charitable organisation invested in the arts and young people’s engagement with performance. What elements of Rich Mix made it the right location for the festival?
The answer’s in the question! That’s a huge reason why Rich Mix is a good fit. The venue is also able to accommodate all art forms we want to represent – with the main space having the capacity for a large audience with cabaret style seating and a bar – perfect for our poetry, spoken word, and mass participation events. Also, the cinema for screenings, as well as the studios for theatre and readings.

Takeover’s programme looks extremely exciting! What are you looking forward to seeing in particular?
I can’t wait for Hannah Sullivan’s Echo Beach on Friday evening, where she “dances like everyone she knows”, Sabrina Mahfouz’s I Heart Poetry event on Friday and Scottee’s Fraff – A Night of Spoken Word for Drunk People. But that’s just a few highlights, having programmed the festival I’m excited about all of it. There’s a really eclectic mix, but what stands out for me is the quality of the artists across the four days. Overall, I’m really looking forward to just being in the venue, and soaking up the atmosphere of the festival.

So, why not fall in love with art this Valentine’s weekend and allow yourself to be thoroughly seduced by Takeover:Love?

IdeasTap Takeover: Love is at Rich Mix from 12-16 February. For more information and tickets, visit the Rich Mix website