The Coup is a semi hostile take over of a Canadian government funding body as a choreography. A sort of mutiny of artists in order to re-imagine the way makers are “awarded” money by institutions.
[box class=”grey_box”] Enter into a truthelling practice of performance conversations with Lady Janitor and a bevy of Bay Area performance and dance identified humans to examine the following: If money is no longer the only subject of conversation around art-making, how do we deal with the other stuff?
Some of the performers may or may not include: Galindog, Laura Larry Arrington, Peter Max Lawrence, Ernesto Sopprani, Phoenicia Pettyjohn, SALTA, Keith Hennessey, counterpulse, Rara Tou Limen, Sara Shelton Man, Kathleen Hermesdorff, Philip Huang, Viv, Kyra Rice, Jamila Jackson, Jose Navareete, powpowpowpow, THEOFFCENTER, Guillermo Gomez Peña, Christine Bonasea, Minna Hari, Michelle Lynch, Nita Little, Brontez Purnell, airspace, Sri Louise. (I know this is not an exhaustive list! If you feel anyone is missing from this list, including you, email me: eroc...@gmail.com)[/box]
The Coup: The Prequel, Bay Area Edition
All shows at Kunstoff, 1 Grove Street
Friday March 28, 8pm
Saturday March 29, 10pm -Sleep on it-(note:slumber party show! Bring sleeping materials, watch favorite flicks of the conversants/performers, have coffee and pancakes in the morning made by Lady Janitor as you watch a mini redux of the last night performance!)
Friday April 4, 10pm -Sleep on it-(note:slumber party show! Bring sleeping materials, watch favorite flicks of the conversants, performers, have coffee and pancakes in the morning made by Lady Janitor as you watch a mini redux of the Saturday night conversationperformance!)
Tickets $10-$20 (donations toward pancake costs will also be accepted.) this is a NOTAFLOF (no one turn away for lack of fundS) event.
If you come to the shows, I will make you pancakes and you can dress up.
Eroca N. (A.K.A. Lady Janitor)
And here is the manifesto for The Coup, with the power of your imagination, substitute “Paris” for SF Bay Area
(truth-telling: I applied for a residency in Paris, it got cancelled and Joe Landini (the Garage/ SafeHouse/ Kunstoff) offered me one here, booyah):
The Coup is a semi-hostile takeover of the Canada Council for the Arts, Dance Section. The Coup is a combination of performance project, political heist and bureaucratic shit show. The Coup is not a good idea. The Coup is uncomfortable. The Coup is artists taking control of how they get money. The Coup is bearing the ugly underbellies of funding structures. The Coup is taking control of capital into the hands of the makers of cultural capital. The Coup will make some people very upset. The Coup will be hard conversations. The Coup will make some people very excited. The Coup will make some people get up out of their chairs and leave the room. The Coup will make everyone equal for one year. The Coup is not a long term plan. The Coup is a year of magical thinking. The Coup is not a comfortable polite consultation. The Coup is a choreography. The Coup needs everyone. The Coup will make things very difficult. The Coup will be messy. The Coup is already happening.
As I understand it, The Canada Council for the Arts dance section operates on a five year funding structure. That means basically that every five years companies and organizations apply to get a multi-year operating grants. The end of the current cycle is 2016 and the new cycle begins in 2017. What The Coup proposes is that instead of starting the new cycle in 2017, we (the dance performance artists and organizations of Canada) propose a year of magical thinking where ALL the money from the dance section is split equally between ALL eligible applicants to the dance section. Yes, this means that independent dance artists and the National Ballet of Canada will get the same amount that year. Yes, this acknowledges that the current funding formula is based on dance landscape that no longer exists in Canada. Yes, some people/companies will get less money than they have before. Yes, others will get more than they have before. Yes, this action will get international attention and get Canada noticed for more than Marie Chouinard, Crystal Pite, Benoit La Chambre and snow. (Dear Europeans, insert, Jerome Bel/Mathilde Monnier/Meg Stuart/Sasha Waltz/Pina.) No, this is not a good idea. Yes, it will force Canadian dance artists and administrators to deal with everything but money- because money will be taken out of the equation for the year.
Before continuing, I would like to address a couple questions that relate to doing a residency in. Why, you may ask, should this art project matter to anyone outside of Canada? And, why, specifically, should the preliminary research phase of this project be undertaken at Lenterprise Culturelle in Paris, outside of Canada? To answer the latter first, perspective and distance. To prepare for the impending madness that will ensue when The Coup “goes public,” I will need to have a very solid plan with methods and truth-based facts as I see them to back up a performative take over of what is essentially a government agency. (Worry not, I am aware that I am not trying to take over the military or parliament.) Undertaking this preliminary research phase at L’Enterprise Culturelle will arm me with the information that gets me into the room with key players that are essential to The Coup. These players include the artistic directors of all the biggest money guzzling companies in the country (Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada among them.) It is not only important that I get to talk to them but that they take me seriously so I need to spend at least one focused month getting my shit together.
And why should this matter outside Canada? Because, most social democracies (Europe included, and the US– well, public arts funding is relatively non-existent) are at a point where they are reconfiguring the way they fund the arts. This surely spells disaster for artists and highlights privatization a la bullshit spreader, Richard Florida (american super douche academic who espouses gentrification as public policy and only supporting art that promotes rhetoric of current neo liberal economic policy.) Why not watch as a cold country gives a radical possibility a try and see what can be gained from the process and applied to other contexts? And, if nothing else, it could be fun to see a choreographic application of a political takeover disguised as an epic community consultation and performed as a series of mutinous truth-telling hard talks.
Lady Janitor, (my performance alter ego) will host a performance series of “Hard Talks with Lady Janitor” or “truth-telling sessions.” These sessions will be organized for artists and arts admin peeps across Canada to engage in some real talk around the questions and conditions that keep Canadian dance/performance artists floundering in relative obscurity and other questions that affect art makers in Canada. These sessions are performances. The Coup is a choReOgraphy. Some of these topics include but are not limited to:
- Race, ethnicity and funding in the fine arts…How is structural racism in Canada crushing creativity?
- Why do big companies take all the money when their work is crap? Or at best phoning it in so they can continue to receiving operating funding? Aka, The National Ballet of Canada: the fattest skinny girl in the room
- Doing it for the money… Independent dancers working for company contracts for money to be able to afford to do their own work.
- History lesson…wow the 80s were so cool… But it’s just not like that anymore. The changing landscape of dance performance in Canada.
- Is there a funding structure to reflect the work that is actually happening in Canada?
- How do we arrange structures at a national funding level to feed innovative practices not encouraging stagnation and phoning it in so you can get the money?
- How do we work? Actually what are people doing, how can that best be supported?
- Community engagement…what the fuck does this actually mean?! And how, if this is an endeavor worth supporting, do we find the people that are actually good at this instead of forcing every Tom, dick and Kaeja to make “community involvement” a part of their dance project when that does not actually makes sense and they are only doing it to get the grant. Fuck!
In an attempt to not re-invent another wheel, I stole/modified these questions from this interview with the head of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Whats a memorable arts experience you’ve had recently?
Lady Janitor: This will be cheesy. Hanging out and talking with Bay Area makers about what matters to them has been pretty fucking amazing. You humans are all so open and welcoming.. how hippie woowoo of me. And seriously– who the fuck am I? As far as memorable, you have to ask me later– everything is all up on top of me right now.
What’s the biggest opportunity for The Coup in the future?
Lady Janitor: Well, I feel like The Coup has the potential to actually fuck with the way funding is structured in Canada (hah and maybe beyond?) The Coup is not a choreography about an mutiny of artists, it actually is a mutiny of artists as a choreography. So yeah– maybe we can imagine a totally different way of supporting makers? If we don’t know what that is— we certainly dont know what the art that might come out of a structure that supports making in unknown ways.
I’m rambling… but maybe we can figure out what artists need to make art… and go from there. An maybe people will be like oh– canada… more than Benoit La Chambre, lalala, and bad weather. (no offense Benoit…you’re obv awesome, anus mouth connection. just sayin, there is more in canada)
What have you learned as a truthteller that you can share with others?
Lady Janitor: Don’t Lie. It’s not worth it.
I feel like we art people participate in the making of mystery around how we support ourselves, like financially. I totally do this too and am really trying to stop. Examples of this are like “oh yeah– i have a residency at blahblah.” and somehow this is a power play because blah blah is not paying me or even I am paying blah blah…Or that international art bitches– like me– are on the constant hustle to make the next project, teaching, job, toilet cleaning, rock hauling happen. Know what i mean?
We participate in perceived economies in our tiny niches and therefore access this power or glamour in the fact that other humans think we are flush. If we show our cards at least there is, on some level, a bit of realness around what is actually going on-how people make shit work.
What’s the value of The Coup:The Prequel, Bay Area Edition to you and your truthtelling endeavor?
Lady Janitor: Value…uh…not sure exactly what that means in this context.
This, Prequel, Bay Area Edition, thing is like a case study. The Bay is, in some ways similar to Canada, in it’s insularity. I think that this dance and performance community mirrors what’s happening in canada… There’s a ton of really different tiny scenes, people have beef and little jealousies, there’s nepotism, there are fucking awesome humans making things, talk of community but also wishing for a time in the past where things were “better” and the community was tighter or whatevs, everyone is wanting a piece of a funding pie (although lets be real— the bay area pie is fucking tiny in comparison with Canada–people here must wonder how anyone can be whining in Canada or Europe)– There’s a constant discussion of scarcity to the exclusion of most other discussions.
I wonder if making attempts to address other stuff can move to a point where we can all quit bitching and make awesome shit.
So I guess I think there is “value” in getting smart art weirdos together to actively think through some of this stuff in order to wade through that bullshit and come out the other side with possibilities for new futures.
What inspires you about working in the arts?
Lady Janitor: I hate this question. “Inspire” is kind of a word that makes me want to vomit in my mouth a bit. Just because of its overuse and tie in to the rhetoric around artists and our “responsibility” to our “community.” Its like funding speak—
That said…I guess I feel some pretty serious commitment to humans and to makers and to changing shit. As Lady Janitor, I am in a super privileged position as a loud mouth white cis working class art lady that is inside the dancey art world (even if in a small capacity.) If I can use that to move toward shattering the universe with badass art. Then yeah, I should probs do that.
Maybe once shit is all magical and universe shattering unicorns and rainbows… I can shift my focus to inspiring, or whatever.
After earning her Honors BFA in Film/Video/Performance and Sculpture from California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA), Eroca Nicols’ artistic practice shifted to the body. She studied in professional programs in Canada at both Ballet Creole and The School of Toronto Dance Theatre before pursuing further training in functionally based and improvisational forms. She is currently a nomadic Toronto-based artist, curator and educator. Her company, Lady Janitor, has presented work in Canada, USA, Europe, and the UK. Eroca has performed with Matthew Smith, Andrea Nann, Les Imprudanses, Francesca Pedulla and is co-founder of the arts advocacy and professional training provider, the Toronto Dance Community Love-In. Eroca’s commitment to community based arts engagement has led her to create platforms for presenting both her own work and the work of fellow artists—DIMBY (Dance In My BackYard) and Badass Dance Fun (a mini festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre) are among these projects, as is the Love-In. Eroca teaches partnering and contemporary dance including workshops in UK, Europe (recently ImpulsTanz with Matthew Smith) and North America (recently Dance Exchange and Kunstoff Arts.) Her teaching and training are deeply influenced in her continued study of the Axis Syllabus and she is currently in the AS teacher training program.