My name is Viktorija Kovac, I am an independent producer and the director-creator of The B PartyAt the IMPACT 19 Festival launch event, The B Party was announced in the local programming lineup. We were being recognized for our project’s quality and ability to entertain and provoke introspection. In July, it was clear that this project cannot be in the festival, due to my shortfalls in securing provincial and federal project grants. 

“So, how do we as artists and producers help our audiences and supporters realize why we are periodically asking for donations through fundraising campaigns, in addition to our ticket sales?”

- Viktorija Kovac

Artistic Director, Cosmic Fishing Theatre

The B Party is a play set inside a marketing presentation about Barbie, captivated by two auto-ethnographic immigrant narratives. The audience is asked to consider the problematic history of a globally popular doll and to establish a new relationship to this iconic object, while reflecting on how it transmits influence on girls and women, in the world of capitalist consumerism. The play unveils social, political, and cultural factors that burden professional and family women in Canada today.

The performance acts as a kind of intercultural party. There is a dialogue between two professional women, a Serbian-Canadian faced with the role of becoming a mother (something Barbie never had to deal with), and a Palestinian-Jordanian Canadian, whose racial divergence from Barbie roots her dilemmas in what is not being acknowledged in the world of Barbie. Uniquely, neither of these characters are the traditional storytellers of this doll, yet they continue to celebrate Barbie as an icon and are determined to sell the audience their own identities through the Barbie lens. Sounds intriguing? Don’t you wish you could see this show now?

I created the The B Party in 2017, first as a performance installation. The material being explored was rich from the start. In 2018, it became a co-creation, and a workshop production was presented as a one-night-only event during my artistic residency with The Registry Theatre for their 2017/2018 season. I received generous financial support from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund and in-kind support from the City of Kitchener, which allowed me to employ four artists for three weeks and contract another four artists for technical and design requirements – a testament to the success of this project. 

Still from The B Party, which had to withdraw from #IMPACT19Festival

IMPACT 19 Festival offered an opportunity of important significance for my creative team, because it allowed our project to stay timely, while it is growing in scope. The possibility to be seen by national and international artists, would help us package the show for touring. To keep the party going this year, we desperately needed our project funding. This stalemate situation is a combination of things, including the recent provincial budget cuts. After having spent over 80 hours writing grants and aligning resources, what does it take to make an independent show in Ontario? How long does it take? Looks like, it takes about four to five years. Is this viable?

So, how do we as artists and producers help our audiences and supporters realize why we are periodically asking for donations through fundraising campaigns, in addition to our ticket sales?

The provincial and federal granting bodies expect us to do so. They want us to prove the viability for a project through our budgets, and by diversifying project revenue streams, improve our chances of being supported. It truly comes back to our patrons, who have separate concerns, such as the cost of the ticket itself. With more affordable and convenient entertainment, live performance has a lot to compete with and fight for.

I wish to help you better understand how your every dollar helps artists secure government funding, which in turn allows us to create and produce quality theatre and performance, right here in our region. The cost of an independent theatre project is well above $45K, yet we are often forced to work with budgets on a shoestring, underpaying artists and cutting costs on production value, just to keep going.

Fundraising has Huge Impact on Kitchener Theatre Festival

KITCHENER — A crowd-funding campaign and an anonymous donation raised $40,000 for the IMPACT 19 Theatre Festival, which will be held in downtown Kitchener later this month.

“It is just incredible, heartwarming and encouraging,” said Majdi Bou-Matar, the founder and director of the festival that is held every other year.

Please know that your donations help independent projects, companies, and festivals like IMPACT, thrive. They help us prove that we can fund a project from multiple sources. Securing funding is such challenging work, and none of the time spent is compensated. But the biggest challenge is that this takes the artist away from the artistic work on the actual project, with huge time gaps throughout the process that could act as a hindrance to its outcome.

As in all business, if viability is linked directly to profit, theatre as a non-for-profit entity, cannot survive without individual and corporate support, in addition to the government funding. So, I wholeheartedly ask your help to support MT Space and IMPACT International Theatre Festival to keep growing, to keep exposing local talent, and immersing the Waterloo Region with exceptional international and national theatre work.

Viktorija Kovac Artistic Director, Cosmic Fishing Theatre (@CosmicFishing)

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