Behind the scenes we’ve been engaging with new artists and ideas – our new outreach programmes and initiatives.
Date posted: August 12, 2020
With our stages dark since early March, we’ve found the necessary time to reflect on, rethink and redesign some of our ongoing outreach activities. It’s also given us the opportunity to launch some new initiatives.
IBPoC Virtual Meetings
This past June, Taiwo Afolabi, our Manager of Artistic and Community Engagement, facilitated a virtual meeting for IBPoC artists and arts administrators as a first step in determining ways of moving forward towards greater inclusivity in the arts in our region. Though plans for the meeting were put in place in April, the June date proved to be exceptionally timely.
Participants outlined a number of ways that arts organizations throughout the region can move forward in addressing the needs of the IBPoC community. That meeting was followed up with a report and an anonymized survey and we’re expecting to continue these necessary conversations. We have also created a database of IBPoC artists and arts administrators in the region.
We are also working on a new program and expect to make an announcement later this fall.
That first meeting was followed by a meeting of senior management of most of the arts organizations in the region. We reported on the meeting of IBPoC artists and arts administrators, and began to discuss where our various companies hope to be in five years with respect to the IBPoC community—and how we plan to get there.
“Prior to the murder of George Floyd and the re-energized Black Lives Matter movement, Taiwo and I had begun examining all of our activities—both onstage and within the community—with an eye to addressing the diverse artists and members of the community within this region. The COVID-19 shut-down gave us time to pursue these goals, the BLM movement gave us urgency, and our community partners and our colleagues in the arts community gave us encouragement.”MICHAEL SHAMATA
Our Incubator Project started fifteen years ago and originally funded one group of local artists in a year-long development process that culminated in a SPARK Festival presentation. Shortly after arriving, Artistic Director Michael Shamata reconfigured Incubator as a two-year development process, again culminating with a presentation.
Four seasons ago, in an effort to encourage more creative risk-taking and pure exploration, the pressure to create a production was dropped, and the New Incubator Project was launched,
This year’s application process brought so many interesting and diverse proposals, that we decided to accept ten applications.
This year’s participants are (in random order) Ellery Lamm and Anna Marie Anderson; KP Dennis and Monica Ogden; Sarah Pitman; Rick Waines; Molly Beatrice, Emily Hay, Hailee Jake Friesen and Alexander Moorman; Andrew Barrett, Stewart Legere, Megan K. Quigley, Brian Postalian, and Patricia Reilly; Hannah Mariko Bell; Julie McGuire, Nicholas Guerreiro, and Annie Konstantinov; David Elendune; and Jo Leslie.
They will be provided with rehearsal space, mentorship, and the option to participate in the Belfry’s newly formed Creators’ Circle.
As a response to the number of exciting projects accepted into the New Incubator Project this winter, we formed the Belfry Creators’ Circle. Facilitated by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Kevin Kerr, this “playwrights’ unit” provides the participants with a safe community of fellow writers, an opportunity to share their work, and a mechanism for encouraging feedback.
The Creator’s Circle is sponsored by FOCUS Magazine
This creative initiative resulted in the formation of three pairs of artists–one member of the IBPoC community and one non-member—and provided them with initial “seed money” in the hope that their ideas will spark off of each other—and ignite artistic exploration.
The three pairs of creative artists are Stephanie Rae Bright and Dennis D. Gupa,Tae Kyung YEO and Pat Wilson Alec, and Sabur Abdulai and Treena Stubel.
“Creating training opportunities is an imperative. It’s our responsibility to mentor members of the IBPoC community so that they can assume leadership roles in arts organizations across the country. Working together with Taiwo Afolabi on this and future initiatives has been a fantastic experience—and I have reason to believe that he will continue working with the Belfry—even from afar, in his new position at the University of Regina.”MICHAEL SHAMATA
The Tower Residency program provides access for playwrights in the community to use the Belfry Bell Tower as a writing studio. Writers are scheduled into the tower based on availability. Interested artists should contact us regarding availability at NIDA@belfry.bc.ca / Subject line: Tower Residency
New Play Development
Now, via Zoom and in socially distanced rehearsal halls, we are working on a number of new plays including BEING HERE: The Refugee Project, created by Joel Bernbaum from interviews he conducted from coast to coast with refugees and their Canadian sponsors, and Same Old Same Old—a deceptively simple and profoundly moving examination of life as the two halves of an older couple, written by Jan Wood and James Fagan Tait.
Other plays currently commissioned by the Belfry include works by Rachel Aberle, David Ferguson, Falen Johnson, and Christine Quintana.
Through this program Immigrant ESL students from the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria are offered the opportunity to attend performances at the Belfry, meeting with a member of the Belfry staff prior to curtain for an introduction to the play.
This program is offered in partnership with the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA).
As a member of Canoo, the Belfry offers free admission for new citizens during their first year of citizenship.
Canoo is a mobile app that helps new Canadian citizens celebrate their citizenship by providing free admission to over 1400 museums, science centres, art galleries, parks, theatres, and historic sites across Canada.
Thanks to the following Community Partners for collaborating with us on many of our initiatives:
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA), Community Partner Network (CPN), Here Magazine, Family Service of Greater Victoria (FSGV), Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC), First Peoples’ Cultural Council, Primary Colours/Couleurs Primaires, University of Victoria (Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Theatre; Department of Writing), Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA), District of Saanich, Canoo, Puente Theatre, Greater Victoria Public Library.
Taiwo is leaving the Belfry to join the University of Regina as an Assistant Professor in Socially Engaged Creative Practice/CRC Tier 2 candidate. Here is a link to the University of Regina announcement >>
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