People working in the service industry are often talented individuals pursuing an artistic career while taking advantage of a flexible, freelance income in catering and restaurants. We ourselves began as a small group of women in the arts, as photographers and actors and singers, earning a living through service and food, and building a network of friendships and like minded individuals with whom to collaborate with.
Now, GP's annual Fellowship Awards program allows for our diversely creative group of staff, from both catering and cafes, to submit a proposal for a 5K grant that would go toward realizing an artistic goal. We caught up with the winners from 2016, and have learned where their projects have taken them from six months ago.
From Lucy Graham, GP's freelance catering staff
1. What was the overall goal of your project? I’m a GP employee and a director & producer who runs a small theatre company, One Bird Productions. We’ve been working to develop Eliza Orleans’ play In the Belly, and the goal of this project was to further develop the play through a three-day workshop of rehearsals, followed by the play’s first public reading. We wanted to be able to audition and cast the right actors, work with them to hear a new draft of the play, and make re-writes over the course of the rehearsal period.
2. What was it like to put together a grant proposal for your own work? Writing the grant proposal was inspiring and clarifying. It forced me to express what my goals for the project were in the short term and think and dream about the play’s future. It also gave me the opportunity to think about how the workshop process could benefit my own career, which helped me to articulate my goals as a director and producer over the course of 2016.
3. What were you able to accomplish with the award? In June 2016 we auditioned and cast the play with a fantastic group of actors, and in July 2016 those actors, myself as the director and producer, and the playwright came together for three days of rehearsal and the play’s first public reading. Over the course of those three days, I worked closely with the actors to read and talk about the play, and thanks to our collaboration, Eliza was able to rewrite significant portions of the script. We got incredible feedback from our creative team and from the audience at our reading, and left the process with a much clearer sense of what the next steps for the play are and how we want to get to them. Most importantly though, we left with a new draft of the script that we are really proud of and feel ready to take to the next level.
4. What are you working on now, or what are your future goals for yourself and your work? I am continuing to develop In the Belly and other projects with my company, One Bird Productions, as well as to freelance direct and produce. I look forward to continuing to work on new plays and to directing more in 2017. I’m taking a directing for film class that I’m really looking forward to. I’m also on a networking kick. I want to meet new people in the theatre and film world and hear about their projects and what they’re excited about, so if you want to have coffee, let me know!
From Kristin Yancy, of Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and MCNY Cafe
What was the overall goal of your project? The Hunt is an immersive theater piece, built for an intimate audience (a maximum of 40 people), and inspired by the witch hunt hysteria that overtook Salem, MA in 1692. In the first version, we experimented with taking the concept of immersion one step further by allowing the audience to vote on the fate of a character. I also wanted to go against the classic witch stereotypes and build a story about powerful, intuitive women that felt current, sexy, and personal.
What was it like to put together a grant proposal of your own work? I found that in writing my grant application I was able to clarify a lot of my own personal questions about what I wanted to make and achieve during this creative process. Because The Hunt started as a conversation a year prior to applying for the grant, my sources of inspiration were very broad, and writing the proposal allowed me to weed out what was unnecessary to the story, what seemed confusing or hard to explain, and then what was vital in building a rich narrative. Producing a show in New York is very expensive, and building a sample budget helped me to set realistic goals for the first run of the show. Additionally, while writing the application I was inspired to reach out to collaborators who eventually became essential members of The Hunt’s creative team.
What were you able to accomplish with the award? The Great Performances Scholarship brought us well over halfway to our fundraising goals, and following a successful Kickstarter campaign The Hunt opened on November 17th, 2016 for a sold out, five day run. Under the direction of myself and my creative partner, Clinton Edward, The Hunt featured a cast of nine dancers/actors/singers and a pre show cast of five, including a practicing witch and a live classical double bassist. “Salem” was designed and built from scratch at at the Temporary Storage art galleries in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Terra Firma, the connecting bar, so that the audience could feel as though they were stepping inside the world of the show. Kerry Concannon stage managed; Costumes were designed (on an extremely tight budget) by the brilliant Jude Hinojosa. What The Hunt truly allowed me to do was to bring together some extremely talented friends in the pursuit of making great art, and I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to the Great Performances Fellowship Committee for helping us bring this show to life.
What are you working on now, or what are your future goals for yourself and your work? Because The Hunt is easily adaptable to non traditional theater locations, we are working towards a second run of the production at a Manhattan venue in 2017, and we will continue to update our website, www.jointhehuntnyc.com, with information on the journey of the show. While making The Hunt, I became a co-founder of MinuteZero, LLC, a new production company that specializes in immersive entertainment for live events (parties, corporate events, engagements, private dinner parties, etc.) while also remaining committed to creating adventurous new theater in the New York community (www.minutezeronyc.com). Personally, producing this show allowed me to really stretch my choreography muscles and I hope to keep learning and growing and making live art as a New York based performer and choreographer.
From Evan Edwards, GP's catering staff
What was the overall goal of your project? My overall goal was to have some of the music from McGurk’s Suicide Hall, a fictional account of actual events professionally produced. This was the next logical step in the progression of the musical and would help in getting it workshopped and ultimately mounted on stage.
What was it like to put together a grant proposal for your own work? Actually writing it was easy. Finding the right balance of how much information to give to elicit interest was where the real work lay. We're finding that with building a project from the ground up, this is a constant challenge. But with each subsequent submission this aspect gets easier. Practice makes perfect.
What were you able to accomplish with the award? With the grant and the help of my composer and a generously talented cast, I was able to produce a professional 16 track CD of some of the music from “McGurk’s Suicide Hall”. We were also able to hire a graphic artist who designed the CD artwork and he even created a brand new font based on the show.
What are you working on now, or what are your future goals for yourself and your work? Right now we're working on finishing the music for submissions. Every festival and developmental session asks for samples of the music. With some asking for the complete score, our next direct step is to orchestrate and hopefully record the other 10-12 songs in the show. Then it's continuing working towards a fully realized production.Thank you guys so much for the opportunity and the support. It's been amazing!
From Adam Miller, Mae Mae Cafe and Dizzy's Club Coca Cola
Overall goal: The goal of this project was to make a documentary about Larry Wright, the founder of nyc bucket drumming. In doing so it was to be the flagship project for my new production company currently named “Island City.”
Putting together the proposal: I had a lot of fun putting together this proposal. It was an idea that had been growing in my mind for a while and because of the archived footage already available on line, I was able to put together a short trailer to convey my idea of the film to be made.
Accomplishments: Things didn’t work out exactly as planned. The film is still a work in progress and may be for a few years to come. I was able to make a great trailer though and put together a few other short examples of my work, where I can now launch the website for Island City. Here is a link to the trailer: BUCKETS - TRAILER and to my production company website: www.islandcity.nyc
Future goals: The plan going forward is to expand my portfolio with my new company and continue to work on the film about bucket drumming.