Arts Funding Cuts


Well, now that I have your attention, read on.

Cash Money

Nathan Gibbs via Compfight

As an independent theatre producer, I constantly find myself paying for my projects out of pocket. Yes, I have received grant money in the past and I do believe they still offer much needed help to artists. However the process to get them can be lengthy, the competition just keeps getting tougher, the pool money available often seems to be shrinking, and at the end of the day, after jumping through all the necessary hoops, you're still not guaranteed a dime. (That said, for more information and tips on grant writing, please see some of my previous posts here and here, as well as my podcast series with the Ontario Arts Council.)

What's a poor artist/producer to do?

Well, if you've been anywhere near the Internet in the last year or so, chances are good that you've heard about Crowdfunding.

According to the knower of all knowledge (i.e. Wikipedia):

Crowd funding or crowdfunding describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.

Now, you might not have been aware of the term "crowdfunding," but you've probably heard of the multiple platforms out there that perform this very service. I'm talking about the Kickstarters, the Indiegogos and the GoFundMes, among others.

So, you just pick a crowdfunding site, put in your brilliant project, send out a tweet and BLAMMO! Now you can just kick back and watch all that glorious moulah roll in, right?

Well, not quite. While I personally find crowdfunding to be easier than writing one grant application after another, it still involves quite a bit of work.

From choosing the platform that's right for you, having a financial goal in mind, creating perks, leveraging your network and fans, making campaign updates that don't annoy the heck out of everyone you know & following through on your promises, developing a successful crowdfunding campaign requires a lot of careful planning and considerations.

Please feel free to join me on March 25th at 6:30 p.m. for Theatre Ontario's So You Need Money For Your Project: Crowdfunding for Artists and Arts Organizations to find out how you can create a campaign that best suits your individual or organizational needs.

Thank you! Thank You! Thank you!

We did it! My Indiegogo Campaign for Roller Derby Saved My Soul was a total success! A big huge thank you to everyone who shared and/or contributed to the campaign. Over the next few weeks, I will be updating you on what's going on with the show, but until then here are a few thoughts on my crowdfunding campaign: Pros

  • There aren't any start-up costs involved with creating an online crowdfunding campaign. It's easier than holding an in-person fundraising event and people can contribute from all over the world.
  • It is so easy to share the campaign. I had widgets on my website and in my email signature. Links were being shared on Facebook, Twitter, and folks even wrote blog posts about the subject.
  • Unlike other crowdfunding options like Kickstarter, even if you don't make your  projected goal, you get to keep all the money raised.
  • The campaign collected email addresses and personal information from everyone who contributed. Though I won't be abusing this privileged information, it is nice to have a means of reaching out to people who were interested in the show.


  • You can only contribute through your credit card or Paypal. Quite a few people I know were not comfortable using those methods and would prefer giving a cheque. I happily took those cheques, but they unfortunately don't count towards my final total. (Side note: I'm still waiting on a few payments and will share my true final total later on.)
  • If your campaign doesn't need help building momentum, Indiegogo will totally promote it for you. As great as it is that some guy who works for The Oatmeal raised a shit ton of money for a Tesla Museum, he really doesn't need the extra help. His site has over 1 Billion (with a B) page views. He's going to do just fine. His campaign has currently raised over 1 Million dollars. On the other hand, my campaign aside, I have some friends who were trying to raise $2000 to take their wonderful little show to PEI. They unfortunately didn't even crack the $500 mark.
  • The fees can get pretty steep. Both Indiegogo and Paypal take a percentage cut from your campaign, which is also probably why they help campaigns that already have momentum because it means a bigger cut. I agree that there should be some kind of fee, but let's be honest here. In the spirit of full disclosure, here's how much money I actually raised:
    • Amount Raised: $5,000.00
    • Amount Disbursed: $4,086.44
    • Disbursement Calculation: Amount Raised by Credit Card: $4,388.00
      • Indiegogo Platform fee (9.0%): $394.92
      • Payment processing fee (3.0%): $131.64
      • International wire transfer fee: $25.00

+ Goal Completion Refund (5.0%): $219.40 = Net Credit Card Funds: $4,055.84 US

Actual amount transferred to my account in Canadian dollars: $ 3,931.28

    • Disbursement Calculation: Amount Raised by PayPal: $612.00
        • Indiegogo Platform fee (9.0%): $55.08
        • Estimated payment processing fee (3.0%): $18.36

      + Goal Completion Refund (5.0%): $30.60 = Net PayPal Funds: $569.16 US

      Actual amount transferred to my account in Canadian dollars: $ 514.24

      ACTUAL AMOUNT RAISED: $4,445.52


On a $5000 campaign, I paid $554.48 in fees. Is this unreasonable? I don't know. There is a strong possibility that I would not have been able to raise this money otherwise and, like I said, there should be a fee for the service. That said, if you decide to run your own crowdfunding campaign, go into it with your eyes open. About 10% of what you raise will not be going into your activity or event. Using my little example above, if the Tesla Museum project raises over $1M, Indiegogo pockets $100,000. And there's their incentive for promoting that campaign and not yours.

After all that, would I do it again? Probably. I think I would look into other options than Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Kickstarter also isn't an option if you are Canadian and I would pay closer attention to the amount of fees being charged. If anyone knows of any other crowdfunding sources, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

That said, these days it feels like everyone and their dog is holding some sort of fundraising campaign online.  Remember how Groupon and its ilk was such a big deal last year and these days you barely hear about it? I can see user fatigue becoming an issue in the near future. But don't worry, something else will come in to take its place. It always does.

But that's a worry for another day. Today is a day for gratitude and celebration. Roller Derby Saved My Soul: coming soon to a theatre near you!

New Beginnings

So, here it is: the new website! Do you like? I like! First of all, a big thank you Jeremy Crittenden of Critty Design for getting this baby out of my head and into the interwebs.  I'm still uploading content, so feel free to check back frequently to see what neat new things I might have in store. But this isn't my only new beginning. This week, I quit my day job. After almost 9 months, I will be leaving the Ontario Arts Council at the end of July.  Let me tell you, it was not an easy decision to make. I have gone from having nothing to becoming accustomed to a certain level of comfort. But my arts practice has suddenly picked up and I'll be damned if I'm not going to ride that wave.

I've got new headshots, a new website and a heck of a lot of inspiration from some pretty amazing acting classes I've been attending since last September. Roller Derby Saved My Soul was invited to take part in the Summer Chautauqua Theatre Festival in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and I'll be doing a special one-off performance in Ottawa before I head off.  I've been working my butt off for the past month to get back into Derby-show shape (as opposed to alcoholic homeless woman shape which was much easier to achieve).

And although I didn't get a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts (not because it was a bad application but because they only funded about 12% of the 200 people who applied), I set up an Indie Gogo campaign to help me redevelop the piece and take it on tour next year.  I'm simply floored at how well that has taken off, raising over $1000 in a day. I would be very grateful if you could take a moment to support the campaign, either through a contribution or by sharing it with your friends. Please know that every little bit helps.

I'm ready to commit to this art form once more. Join me for the ride, won't you?

Where To Find Da Money

In my grant writing post, I mentioned putting up a list of locations where you can find grants available to performance artists, so here it is. Please note that while this list may be of use to many of you, it's focus is more on Ottawa-based performance artists. Also, if I've missed anything, please let me know and I will add it immediately.

Municipal City of Ottawa Deadline - End of January Includes funding opportunities for Individual Artists, Projects & Operations

Council for the Arts in Ottawa Deadline - December & May Awards for Emerging & Mid-Career Artists Community Foundation of Ottawa Deadline - February & October Must be a registered charity and the project must have strong community impact

Provincial Ontario Arts Council Deadline - varies Opportunities for a variety of disciplines and projects, for both individuals and organizations. They also have Skills Development & Touring money. Follow them on Twitter!

Theatre Ontario Deadline - March & October Funding for those wanting to train with a mentor in a particular theatrical discipline, not including performance. They also have a great range of courses and other information. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Metcalf Foundation Deadline - May & October This is the program I went through to fund my current internship/job opportunity with the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Similar to the program through Theatre Ontario, but for a much longer term. The internship is available throughout the province, but they also fund companies based in Toronto. You must be a charitable organization to apply (for the internship, the GCTC had to apply on my behalf).

Ontario Trillium Foundation Deadline - March 1, July 1 & November 1 From what I hear, this is the mother of all grant applications. It is incredibly long and varied. Your project must also have great community impact.

National Canada Council for the Arts Deadline - varies Like the Ontario Arts Council only with a broader, national scope.

In the meantime, you might also want to check out the great discussion happening in the comment thread of Praxis Theatre's blog post entitled How Do You Get A Grant. I find Brendan Gall's words pretty inspiring.

Also from Praxis Theatre (because they are awesome and I hope they will eventually add me to their blog roll if I keep pinging back to them enough times - Hey, it worked with the Ottawa Fringe Festival...), I haven't stopped laughing at their fundamental contradiction at the core of this discussion. So I leave you with this:

Good luck!

So You Want To Write a Grant Application

Those of you who have been following my Twitter feed over the weekend were probably well acquainted with #grantwritingapalooza - a term lovingly coined by me to describe the sheer volume of grant writing my theatre company and I need to get done over the next little while. Now, I won't get into a discussion about Arts Funding (or the lack thereof). There are enough blogs out there who make a better case for it than I do. I personally think that the current financial model we artists are working in is completely nonviable and unsustainable. (There's actually a discussion about this going on at the Praxis Theatre blog right now.) I hate how much emphasis theatre companies and individuals (myself included) place on government funding, which is never guaranteed, and it breaks my fucking heart when I see projects unable to get off the ground due to a lack of money.

That said, there is money out there for the arts. It does exist. Now let's see if you are in a position to collect it.

According to the good people at Wikipedia, 'Grants are funds disbursed by one party (Grant Makers), often a Government Department, Corporation, Foundation or Trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual. In order to receive a grant, some form of "Grant Writing" often referred to as either a proposal or an application is usually required.'

Let's get something straight. Grant writing is not fun. It's a long and convoluted process that makes you feel like you are jumping through a thousand hoops while being asked the same question over and over again in a million different ways. Take the hardest essays you have ever written, throw in a detailed budget, put your entire soul on the line, and presto! That? Is grant writing in a nutshell.

However, as a good friend pointed out to me, if you can't clearly express your project idea, why should anyone who doesn't know you give you any money?

So, first things first: Do Your Research Most grant applications require at least four months between the application deadline and the project start date so this is not something you want to get into two weeks before opening night. Also, will you be applying on behalf of yourself as an individual, a company or a collective? Is your company a non-profit organization or a registered charity? This will affect the types of grants you can apply for.

There are a few avenues available to you in your search for grants. I had written many of them out here, but it made for a very long blog post. Instead, I'll be creating another post later on with a list of links. If you have any suggestions for me, please add them in the comment list. *Ed. Note - Post with grant listings can be found here.*

So you know what you want to apply for, now what? See those contact names associated with the various application forms? Call them! Don't be shy. These people are paid to answer your questions and it is a really good idea to approach them with your project to see if it's even viable before you get into the tedious writing process.

Look Over the Application Requirements Carefully Will you need three copies or six? What kind of support materials are required? Will you need bios or resumes of the people involved in the project? Ect... Just because you might be applying for more than one grant for the same project does not mean all the requirements will be the same.

Start Writing There are a lot of opportunities to be creative in your application. It's not a bad idea to introduce yourself under the artistic description for the project to give the jury a better idea of who you are and why this project is important. Grant applications are all about the "Why?" If you are passionate about something, make sure it shines through.

At Evolution Theatre, we write as a group. Grants can usually be divided into three categories, which works well for us since there are three of us in the company. Our Artistic Director writes out the Artistic Vision, our General Manager works on the Budget, and I, as Director of Communications, take care of the Community Outreach/Marketing aspects. Then, once a first draft is done, we pass it around to each other for edits. The Track Changes function in Microsoft Word gets a lot of use in our world.

Be Concise Grant assessment juries can see hundreds of applications a year. Keep things brief and to the point. Bullet points are your friend!

Have a Realistic Budget Make sure your budget is balanced and makes sense. A couple tips: artist grants are usually meant to cover anything involving the "art" - keep your business and admin expenses low; Don't ask for a ridiculous amount of money with the "ask for more, get less" mentality - you might be shooting yourself in the foot with that one; Have detailed budget notes and make sure you have a back up plan in case you don't get the money (some applications may ask this question).

Speaking of being prepared in case you don't get the money: I've probably written about a dozen grant applications now (both as an individual and as a member of Evolution Theatre) and I have been successful in getting three. I'm not sure what the statistics are on this, but I think that's probably a pretty good average for an emerging artist.

Get Someone to Look It Over As I mentioned above, we're lucky because there are usually three of us working on a grant application at the same time. That said, I have done individual applications and, trust me, it never hurts to have a little outside input. They might see something you missed. However, make sure the person you ask has some experience with grant writing.

Ask for Postage Confirmation If you're like me, you'll be handing in/mailing out your application on the day it's due (which is not the smartest way to go about it people, trust me, it's stressful - do as I say, not as I do!). If you have to mail it out, ask for a post-dated confirmation from the post office. I didn't get a confirmation once and was told by a theatre company my application was three days late, even though I sent it out on the right day. I pleaded my case and they did allow my application, however this is not the norm! Typically, I may never have even known it was considered late until much later, if ever. Spend the extra money, it's worth it for your own peace of mind.

I hope these tips help you out in some way. If you have any of your own, please add them in the comment section below. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got two more applications due on Monday, which I really have to get to.

Message from Théâtre Action to the City of Ottawa

For about a year now, I have been trying to reconnect to my French roots as an artist. One of the best ways I have found to do that in this city was by joining Théâtre Action (site in French only). This organization is at once an advocacy group, an educational alliance and a link to a greater community and a broader spectrum of work possibilities. The executive director of Théâtre Action, Marie-Eve Chassé recently spoke to the City's budget planning committee on the arts and funding in the region and I just wanted to pass along the message to you who all seem to gather here. This is the official translation of her French speaking notes. I have included the original text below and, if you understand the language, I highly recommend you read that version instead.


Hello everyone, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.

My name is Marie Ève Chassé, and I am the executive director of Action Theater and chair of the Alliance Culturelle de l’Ontario. In that capacity I am here to speak on behalf of the francophone theatre and culture community in Ottawa.

The planned budget for 2010 for the city states explicitly that there will be no reduction in funding for the arts. So I would like to start by offering a big thank you for having heard and understood our needs.

However, it’s important to understand the need to remain vigilant. History teaches us that the battle isn’t truly won until the war is won.

The arts and culture have always been the poor relations when it has come to policy issues. We have had to cry out constantly to reaffirm our importance and value to society.

So I would like to remind you that it is vitally important to ensure that the promised allocation for the arts in the draft 2010 budget remain in place and that it be adopted when you make your final decisions on the budget.

For those of use working in the cultural community, there is no doubt that what we do isn’t just a pleasant “extra” but a necessary factor for our city’s economic recovery future growth. We would like to remind you again that what we do generates billions of dollars and stimulates the entire economy.

Moreover, our creative communities also provide Ottawa with other kinds of benefits beyond dollars and jobs. They contribute to our collective well-being, social cohesion, and sense of community.

Indeed, we would argue that during a time of economic recession the people of Ottawa have a greater need than ever for the arts as they nourish our hopes for better days ahead. Through their works, the artists of our city share offer a different kind of wealth which, unlike consumer goods, are resistant to economic pressures and analytical reports.

Our artists invite us to live and understand reality in ways that are personal. They open our eyes to new ways of thinking. They offer us a glimpse into the future. Through their work they give meaning to what happens in our personal lives and in our society.

In contrast, the absence of dreams and culture causes despair and hopelessness. The arts provide a backbone for our society. As the soul of our city they are our guides for generations to come.

I assure you that your decision not to cut funding to the arts is the right one.

Let me offer you a few more thoughts in this vein.

Continued support for the arts provides us with the means to help Ottawa to become a model city in Canada that makes its mark in history.

As you know, any society is invariably judged through its art and culture. So I invite you to become visionaries in considering the future of our city.

Let us invest in the arts and culture!

You will support the emergence and the continued development of our artists by providing the best possible conditions for the creation, production and dissemination of works of art.

These works of art contains will stir our consciences and inspire our daily activities.

In offering financial support to the arts, you help the people of Ottawa to contribute to the creation of beauty in our city.

I hope you will take into account my thoughts as you consider our needs in your deliberations.

Thank you once again for your attention.


Ottawa le, 25 janvier 2010 : Théâtre Action est fier de vous divulguer ici le texte intégral du plaidoyer en faveur d’un financement congruent des arts et de la culture que sa directrice générale à fait le 25 janvier dernier à l’Hôtel de Ville d’Ottawa.

« Bonjour à tous et merci d’avoir accepté de me donner la parole aujourd’hui.

Je me présente, je suis Marie Ève Chassé, directrice générale de Théâtre Action et présidente de l’Alliance culturelle de l’Ontario. J’agis ici en tant que porte-parole du milieu théâtral et culturel francophone de la ville d’Ottawa.

Nous savons que dans les faits saillants du budget provisoire 2010 de la ville d’Ottawa, il est fait explicitement mention qu’aucune réduction ne sera faite dans le financement des arts.

Aussi, je suis venue ici pour vous dire un gros merci! Cela prouve, en effet, que vous nous avez entendus et surtout compris!

Cependant, vous comprendrez surement qu’il nous faille rester vigilants, car souvent le passé nous a appris qu’une bataille pouvait être remportée sans que pour autant cela signifie que la guerre soit gagnée!

En effet, le milieu des arts et de la culture a toujours été le parent pauvre des enjeux prioritaires en politique et il a dû sans cesse crier et réaffirmer son importance et sa valeur sociétale!

Alors, sachez, Mesdames et Messieurs, qu’il est crucial, voir vital pour nous que cette dépense de fonctionnement allouée aux arts dans le budget provisoire 2010 reste réellement en l’état et soit bel et bien adoptée lors du vote du budget!

Pour nous artistes, artisans et travailleurs du milieu culturel, il ne fait aucun doute que la culture n’est pas une composante additionnelle, mais un facteur nécessaire à la reprise et à la croissance économique de notre Ville! Nous répétons une fois de plus que son activité génère des milliards de $ et stimule des pans entiers de son industrie!

De plus, créatrice de richesses et d’emplois pour de nombreux Ottaviens et Ottaviennes, la culture fait également naître encore davantage de bénéfices non quantifiables, en termes de bien-être collectif, de cohésion sociale et de projet commun de société!

En effet, en ces temps de sortie de récession économique, la population d’Ottawa a plus que jamais besoin des arts et de la culture pour pouvoir nourrir l’espoir de jours meilleurs.

Par leurs œuvres, les artistes de notre ville offrent en partage des richesses sans pareil qui, contrairement aux biens de consommation, résistent aux raisons économiques et savent faire fi des rapports analytiques!

Nos artistes nous invitent à vivre ou à appréhender le réel selon des voies toutes personnelles auxquelles ils ont su donner un sens selon ce qu’ils vivent ou ont vécu.

Ils nous ouvrent d’autres perspectives pour penser! Ils nous permettent d’entrevoir une sorte de lumière pour avancer. Ils sont nos quêteurs de sens!

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, c’est le manque de rêve, d’espoir et de culture qui provoque le désespoir, la contestation et la morosité…

Les arts sont et resteront la colonne vertébrale d’une société, ils sont l’âme de notre Ville et des guides pour les générations à venir!

Aussi, je vous garantis que votre décision de ne pas effectuer de coupures dans le financement des arts est bonne et vous assure que vous faites un choix qui vous honore!

Cependant, permettez-moi tout même d’aller un peu plus loin dans ma réflexion…

En effet, je vous suggère fortement de vous donner d’ores et déjà les moyens de devenir une ville modèle au Canada qui marquera de son sceau l’histoire!

Comme vous le savez, toute société est immanquablement jugée à travers son art, alors, anticipez l’avenir de notre ville et devenez des visionnaires!

Investissez financièrement dans les arts et la culture!

Vous soutiendrez ainsi l’émergence et le développement continu d’artistes, d’artisans et de travailleurs culturels d’ici en leur offrant les meilleures conditions possible de création, de production et de diffusion d’œuvres d’art!

L’art contient en lui un nous pluriel qui réveille les consciences, anime et inspire toutes les activités humaines!

En injectant encore plus d’argent dans les arts et la culture, vous donnerez le goût à vos concitoyens de produire de grandes et belles choses dans notre ville d’Ottawa!

J’ai l’espoir fou de penser que mon discours ne restera pas lettre morte et que vous saurez le prendre en considération!

Je vous remercie pour votre écoute et vous souhaite à tous et toutes une bonne soirée! ».

Théâtre Action tient à remercier ses partenaires financiers pour la saison 2009-2010 : le Conseil des Arts de l’Ontario, le Ministère du Patrimoine Canadien, la Fondation Trillium de l’Ontario, le Ministère de l’Éducation et le FondAction de la Fondation franco-ontarienne.

The Popular Vote

It's a regular blogapalooza week here at So You Want To Be An Actor (Redux). For some reason I've been blogging almost every day. I guess there's just a lot going on, including the following on how you can help the Ottawa Theatre Network. I know that this is very much a popularity contest for money. That said, with funding being so difficult to get in the first place, I don't really like passing up any opportunity that might help support my theatre community.


Be a Part of Ottawa’s Renaissance: Vote Now, Vote Daily, Tell A Friend

Do you care about Ottawa professional theatre?

Do you want to help the Ottawa Theatre Network and the Great Canadian Theatre Company make a lasting contribution to Ottawa professional theatre?

Here’s you chance! It will only take a few minutes of your time. We promise.

To find out more, click here:

Remember, you don't even have to live in Ottawa to vote and you can do so daily!

A direct link to our proposal itself can be found here:

In addition, Third Wall Theatre is also looking for support for their Shakespeare Ensemble Project. Since you can vote for multiple proposals, I suggest you also check them out here:

Rambling Farewell to June

This was originally going to be a wrap-up post about the Ottawa Fringe Festival, but too many amazing things happened throughout the month of June that I feel the need to go a little more in dept. Adjectives like glorious, amazing, incredible and the ever popular fantabulous will get thrown about so be prepared. This is going to be one of those look at all the great things that happened to me posts. Not because I feel like boasting about it all (ok, maybe a little), but because I sometimes need to remind myself that I am on the right path, even when a few pebbles get in my shoes. June was a month of glorious theatre intensiveness. Both the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Ottawa Fringe Festival took up large chunks of my time through shows, drinking, workshops, networking, drinking, creation, performance, and did I mention there may have been some drinking?

By my calculations, if you include the reading series, almost 75 shows were presented to the general public. Fantabulous! I saw the vast majority, because my sanity is somewhat in doubt.

I did an incredible amount of networking which amounted in new contacts made here and across the country. My long dormant public speaking skills also made a brief resurgence during one particular MNTF workshop which directly resulted in having the Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre's English Theatre program attending my Fringe show and the Artistic Director of one of Ottawa's oldest professional theatre companies buying me a glass of wine (though honestly I think it was because he was bored with a certain workshop, but I'm not going to argue).

Other June highlights include a stack of auditions in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto; an extra union credit on the French side; some standardized patient work; the creation of a new production company; losing almost ten pounds; winning a crapload of gift certificates (MOST PERSISTENT DANCER FTW!) and, of course, this little show called No Exit Upstage - perhaps you've heard of it recently?

Oh, and the greatest of all my news: I received a creation grant from the City of Ottawa to develop my piece on Women's Roller Derby!!! A piece I hope to get off the ground with the help of my ultimate Fringe Crush, of course.

June was simply divine and July is shaping up to be even better: lots of get-togethers, a few tweaks and rewrites for No Exit Upstage, and then I ship off to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

I'm not sure how much blogging will get done between now and then, but you can be sure I will be keeping everyone up-to-date on Nancy and Natasha's Adventures in Winnipeg... That sounds catchy, like a TV series I could pitch to YTV. We'd have to clean it up a bit, but Natasha's a mom so she'd know if something wasn't appropriate...

Uh, where was I? Oh yeah, blogging about Winnipeg. Anyway, if my stats throughout the Ottawa Fringe are any indication, there are a lot of you out there who seem to be interested in what I might have to say... either that or an Adorkable Thespian just likes repeatedly clicking on my links... (Psst, Nadine, you can totally click on my links ANYTIME! - Yes, I meant that to sound dirty.)

A Pre-Fringe Experience

I'm currently in London (ON) smack dab in the middle of the Big Comedy Go-To, a brand spanking new festival that includes sketch, stand-up, improv, theatre and musical comedy on the menu at three different venues over the weekend. Though I'm primarily here to support a friend, it's an awesome opportunity for me to mix and mingle with plenty of talented artists who often make the rounds of the Fringe Festival Circuit. A full-festival pass is ridiculously cheap ($50) and allows me to see everything... and so far I pretty much have. The festivities began on Thursday night with Jimmy Hogg's Like A Virgin, a new piece which he plans to tour this summer... so new that this was in fact his first public performance. I drove into town about 15 minutes prior to curtain. I didn't think I would make it, but I am definitely glad I did. Jimmy is an incredibly hilarious and charismatic performer. He had a small but very appreciative crowd, as you can see from this review. For those of you in Southern Ontario, I highly recommend you make the trek down to the newly renovated Arts Project on Sunday at 6 p.m. To all my Ottawa friends, have no fear! You will get your chance to see Jimmy at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this June. I know I'm really looking forward to seeing it again once it's had some time to develop.

A real stand-out performance for me came shortly after with Nile Seguin's Fear of a Brown Planet at the Black Shire Pub. This guy was amazing (and he's from Ottawa). His show is a bit of a long form stand-up routine, which can often be hit or miss. However, Nile delivers a smart and witty performance that made the hour just fly by. Every joke was solid and when he was done, I still wanted more. If you ever hear that this guy is doing a show in your area, drop whatever you are doing and go see it. You will not regret it. He is also doing a show on Sunday at 6 p.m.

That said, not everything is amazing. I saw some improv which was just alright. Improv is such a tricky art form. It is really difficult to do well and I have the utmost respect for those who attempt it. I found the main problem with what I saw was that people often didn't know when to just end the scene and so they'd just keep going once the joke had peaked or they'd just go for the tried and true guy on guy action, because gay-ness is funny. Then again, if I see it done again tonight, who knows, it will be completely different and may be the best thing I see all weekend... That's the beauty of improv and theatre festivals in general: you never know what you're going to get.

So that was Thursday. On Friday, I caught The Power of Ignorance by Chris Gibbs and TJ Dawe. The show was great but I was completely distracted in the venue by people coming in and out, chairs being moved around in the room above us, and staff coming by our table to take food and drink orders (um, no I'm not hungry I'm watching a play!). The turn out for this show was also incredibly low (in fact, I heard the show that came before, Who's Afraid of Tippi Seagram? had to be canceled due to nobody showing up) which was unfortunate. Really low numbers, meaning four, for Rob Salerno's Fucking Stephen Harper too. I don't know if this had something to do with the hockey playoffs or perhaps a general lack of awareness of the Big Comedy Go-To (unless you're on Facebook, it's hard to find an online schedule). Things picked up for the London favorite, The Boneyard Man though.

I've got to head out and see more shows today, but I will leave you with the schedule in case you're in the area. Come and support your local artists. They're doing some really good stuff! I'll post more later on if I manage to find another internet connection.


ARTS PROJECT 2PM Passionfool: 7 Stories 90m $18 4PM Panel Discussion FREE 6PM The Circus Show (Siegfried & Roy - The Comeback/Morro's Sorrow/Steve Seguin) 75m $15 8PM Passionfool: 7 Stories 90m $18

LONDON MUSIC CLUB 6PM Rob Salerno: Fucking Harper 35m $8 6PM Chris Gibbs: Power Ignorance 75m $10 7PM Theatre Nemesis: Which is Better? 45m $8 7.30PM Who’s Afraid of Tippi Seagram? 60m $10 8.30PM Prop Knucks/Project G-Force/ Approximately 3 Peters 90m $15 8.30PM Matt Martin: King Alive/Sexual Tyrannosaurus/You Are Awesome 90m $10

BLACK SHIRE 7.30PM STAND-UP: Your Tax Dollars at Play 90m $10 10PM STAND-UP: The Big One 120m $15

SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2009


2PM Josh Cottrell and Aaron Youell: He Ain’t Heavy 60m $10 4PM Paul Hutcheson: Third Time Lucky 60m $10 6PM Jimmy Hogg: Like A Virgin 60m $10 8PM Alex Eddington: Tired Cliches 60m $10

LONDON MUSIC CLUB 6PM Four Lb. Beauty Pucks/Good Game 60m $10 7.30PM Cody Rivers/Fully Insured 90m $15

BLACK SHIRE 6PM Nile Seguin: Fear of a Brown Planet 60m $10 7.30PM STAND-UP: Open Mic 60m PWYC 10.30PM CLOSING NIGHT PARTY!

Join the Evolution!

For those of you who may not know, I am a founding member, as well as the Director of Communications for an independent theatre company in Ottawa named Evolution Theatre. This past week, we have finally launched our new website, which I encourage to visit frequently, as content is constantly being updated: This past year has proven to be very fruitful for us. We have been honored with multiple award nominations through the Rideau Awards, the Capital Critics Circle, the Golden Cherries and the Ottawa Xpress. Our production of Daniel MacIvor’s This Is A Play sold out its run at the Ottawa Fringe Festival and was remounted as part of an evening of one-acts, in which we collaborated with two other local, independent companies. CBC Radio’s Alvina Ruprecht favourably reviewed our productions and called us “an important contribution to the professional theatre scene in Ottawa.”

We were also thrilled to be chosen as one of the companies to receive Production Mentorship under the tutelage of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. This mentorship program will gives us the opportunity to produce the Canadian premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water) in the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre’s studio space in May of 2009 (Tickets on sale now!), as well as increasing our skills in various administrative areas of the Theatre. We are at an exciting stage in our development as a professional theatre company in Ottawa.

This past December, our company finally became recognized as a registered charity. As you can imagine, this was very joyous news indeed. pool (no water) is our most ambitious and expensive endeavor yet. We have applied for grants through the various levels of government, but have yet to receive any funding. With projected funding cuts all around to the arts, this then leaves us with the option of soliciting sponsors and donations from individual patrons and businesses.

We need your help. Currently, we’re trying to raise $5000. A donation as small as $25 can help us cover up to 3 hours of rehearsal space in city owned community centres; $100 buys costumes or set pieces; $2000 covers our technical time and staff in the theatre.

If you can’t afford to give, how about volunteering some of your time? Those interested should send an email with which areas of the theatre they are interested in working in to

If you would like additional information on the company and our upcoming productions, I encourage you to visit our brand new website, once again, at Online donations may be made by clicking the "Donate Now" button. A list of giving categories and rewards will be included on the site soon, but if you would like to know more now, please do not hesitate to contact me directly via email:

Thank you for your support!


My First Time - A Staged Reading of Buds

I didn't know what to expect. I had quite an enjoyable train ride to Kitchener-Waterloo and was greeted by a lovely young woman holding a copy of my script out in front of her. It's better than any sign anyone could have made. We arrived at City Hall and I expected to walk into an auditorium of some sort. Surprise number one: the staged reading for She Speaks was taking place in the City Council Chambers. You'd never see this in Ottawa.  The only performances happening in our chambers aren't usually works of fiction and may involve funding cuts to the arts, not support for them. Not for the first time that night, I wish I had brought my camera.

I took a seat at the top and waited for the readings to begin.

Though I won't go into detail about everyone else's shows, I have to say that there was a lot of good stuff being presented. Also, the imaginative ways people used the space was excellent. Which brings me to surprise number two and three: my play as actually quite good and could be staged around a conference table. Neat!

Since this was a staged reading, I thought the stage directions would be read out loud. Imagine my surprise (number 4!) when I heard sound effects being used. Only once had I heard my piece read aloud, and this was for an earlier draft. It was great to see how the whole thing might turn out with some of the technical elements in place and that I wasn't completely out of my mind for including them in there.

I had purposefully refused to re-read my script before I saw it staged because I didn't want to have any ideas about the piece. I just wanted to enjoy what someone else brought to the table. They did not disappoint!

I got to participate in a talk-back after the show with some of the other playwrights in attendance. Feedback on my piece was incredibly positive and encouraging. One person asked if it was hard to let go of the play and have rest solely in the hands of the actors and the director. My honest answer? I couldn't have been more thrilled. First of all because someone else took an interest in something I wrote and secondly because I truly believe that theatre is a collaborative effort. This art form is simply much bigger than me and I would do it a grave injustice if I selfishly held on to my work in order to assert some kind of creative control. You can't control art once its unleashed upon the world. You can only sit back and enjoy the ride. Who knows, you might even learn something.

I had such a great and inspiring time.  If you're a female playwright, I highly recommend you look into She Speaks for next year.  Also, they've got another event for short plays called Asphalt Jungle Shorts.  It's site specific theatre and I beleive it is open to everyone, male or female.

A big thanks to Paddy and the gang for everything!  I look forward to seeing some of the video footage.


Interested in producing a short-play?  Might I suggest Buds, now that I've had some time to tweak it a bit (though not much) after the reading.

Buds by Nancy Kenny Approximate running time: 10 minutes Comedy - 2 M, 2 F Description: Great party last night, but how will the Taste Buds ever survive a day at work with a wicked hangover mucking everything up?

Please contact me through the comment section and I will get back to you shortly.

The Uncertain Shall Inherit the Earth

Words like "recession" and "economic crisis" have been tossed around a lot lately, and to be honest with you, I've often felt weird for not thinking it was a bigger deal.  It just hasn't affected me.  I had taken my RRSPs out to buy a condo months before trouble started; a low Canadian dollar means more American productions coming to Canada; and low interest rates mean my student loans are getting paid off faster.  Sure, I'm unemployed, but that's my own damn fault, not the economy's.  And yes, arts funding is getting cut again, some more, but my theatre company has managed so far without government funding, I know we will still make it work if we don't get anything this time around. So in the midst of all financial turmoil, I was feeling out of place for not worrying properly or something until I came across this blog post by Adam Thurman:

As an artist the most potent weapon you have in your arsenal right now is this:Your willingness to embrace uncertainty...The so called "stable" world, the world of doctors, lawyers, banker is falling apart. All the assumptions that people have built their lives on are being shattered. That's uncertainty. But since they haven't been dealing with that state of being as long as you have, you can imagine that they are a bit panicked. This is actually good news for you. Because in an unstable world, those who are able to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty best become the ones mostly likely to succeed. Your skills as an artist, your nature as an artist is more valuable now then ever.

Read his whole post, Moving in our direction.

I don't have a routine anymore.  I don't know where I'm going to be in a month, next week, hell, two days from now.  I don't know if the script I'm writing is going to be a hit and make me lots of money, or if the one I already wrote and will see staged is even any good.  I don't know, and I'm OK with that.

I feel better now.