Part IV: ArtGrant!
by Crystle Reid
(Photos of Jacqueline Van De Geer by Juliam Stamboulieh)
Last year at ArtCamp! Astra’s piece was a sort of “choose your own baptism” in the lake at dawn. Patrons who wanted to participate filled out a form the evening before where they chose what the baptism was an act of: purification, praise, aspiration, healing, or goal setting. Participants were invited to circle as many symbols of the divine from a list including: Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mother Earth, Kali, Kayne West, their ancestors or they could fill one in of their choosing. Finally they could share any words or prayers that they wanted to include. I know it’s all a bit sacrilegious. When I came up with the framework of the piece it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone. I wanted to provide participants with a fun but moving experience. Plus, I always wanted to be baptized in a lake.
Jacqueline Van De Geer, local actress, director, choreographer, cheesy silent DJ and just all around lovely person agreed to be our priestess very early in the morning. Jacqueline is one of our ongoing participants. At almost every ArtHere! she comes up with with something fun and interesting that challenges the very form in which we work. In short, I was sure she would make an enthusiastic and powerful priestess. One of my favorite moments of putting ArtCamp! together was when I took Jacqueline to find a wet suit rental before the event.. As I was handing the clerk a the diving store a flyer for ArtCamp! Jacqueline declared, “Oh, yes you should come, I can baptize you!” There wasn’t enough time for me to explain.
When the morning of the event arrived we followed a choir of singers, “down to the water to pray.” Some of the baptisms were funny with the priestess assuring people they would no longer be so attached to their smartphone and computer before viciously yet virtuously thrusting their heads into the lake. Some were much more touching as she insisted to one girl, “You are enough,” and it appeared to bring so much relief and joy. When my turn came I was a bit nervous. Jacqueline knows a lot about me, she would have a lot to work with. My favorite part was when she looked me in the eyes and announced, “this year you will get a grant. Next year you will be able to pay me!” and then I was underwater.
ArtHere! still only happens because each of the artists donates their time to create their piece.
This last Canada Council intake on March 1st I toyed with the idea of letting them know: “Just so you know last summer at my lake baptism I was promised this grant ...” Somehow I suspect it wouldn’t help our case. I did promise myself in that lake that this year I would do my absolute best with all of our grant applications. ArtHere! still only happens because each of the artists donates their time to create their piece. We’re happy if what we make at the door covers the cost of space rental. A grant would enable us to compensate everyone involved, which would be amazing! I find it difficult to write grants because an ArtHere! event is so clear in my head, that explaining it to someone who has never experienced it can prove to be a challenge. It’s tricky trying to anticipate what people will have questions about or perhaps not even believe! Last year one of our notes was: “the cost of busses to the ArtCamp! looks padded”. It was frustrating because the quote for the busses was the lowest I could find in the city. At our events we have an 85% capacity rate. In the world of theatre that’s just, well, weird. It might be because we’re so awesome, but more likely than not it’s that our events only happen for one evening. It’s important to account for little things like that. I often wish I could be in the room to answer questions while the panel reads and discusses the grant. Another thing I often forget that it’s a panel of my peers who are accessing the Canada Council Grant. I used to try and make us sound official and write for government types. I didn’t bother with that this year instead I focused on making the grant an extension of my work: ArtGrant! The whole company helped out with editing and all the little pieces of the grant such as the budget and timeline. Not to mention all the people who read and edit for us free of charge, who aren’t involved with the project. I’m so blessed, maybe that baptism did more than I think.
This year I’m really pleased with the application we sent out. I think it’s the best we could do. It feels like doing an audition you’re happy with, even if you don’t get a part you’re just happy it went well in your eyes. Keep your fingers crossed for us! And good luck to everyone else who applied!