From Emerging to…

Velvet looks wistfully upward toward the top-left; shadows glance their left side, their right eye fully in the light. Their teal shirt and the blurred gray background enhance the focus on Velvet's expression. Captured by Curtis Perry (2022)

In 2020, I started my recovery (from corporate burnout) by planting creative seeds online. By Fall 2021, they rooted well and I cultivated them further into projects that flourished; 2022 highlights are at the end of the post

What does 2023 hold for Velvet Duke Productions?

Velvet looks wistfully upward toward the top-left; shadows glance their left side, their right eye fully in the light. Their teal shirt and the blurred gray background enhance the focus on Velvet's expression. Captured by Curtis Perry (2022)

My top priority remains: continuing to cultivate creative relationships in the Ottawa region. Specifically, I want to further connect with people to further assist the goals of the Black Pledge Collective. From improv and theatre to advocacy communities, I’m taking the time to establish myself as a community member and ally

Four projects on the horizon

Look for updates on the following projects:

  1. I accepted a role as Director Mentor for the Youth Infringement Festival (Fall 2022 – March 2023)
  2. I’ll start the first draft of “Anasi Discovers His Reflection“, my first dramatic play, thanks to a 2023 Recommender for Theatre Creators grant through Cahoots Theatre (January 2023 – ?)
  3. I’m submitting “All Request Radio” to the 2023 Ottawa Fringe through their Bring-Your-Own-Venue (BYOV) program (June 2023); I’m applying to 2023 Halifax Fringe (September 2023) when their lottery opens. I applied to the City of Ottawa to cover the Ottawa production costs; I’ll fundraise for Halifax
  4. Establishing hybrid (in-person and virtual) workshops in musical improvisation. This will feed into “All Request Radio” shows as well as whatever other projects people are developing. Further goal: paid performance and facilitation opportunities at virtual and in-person festivals across the globe

Additionally, I’ll edit and build out the two scripted productions to strengthen their offerings

Submission Declines

I admire Sage Tyrtle as storyteller and facilitator. She shares updates of submission declines, since rose-coloured glasses don’t show the whole picture.

Velvet looks directly at you, feeling very upset. This is acting -- they are happy you're seeing this image. They are wearing a teal shirt to accentuate their Black skin and the blurred gray background. Captured by Curtis Perry (2022)
  • I applied to, and did not get into, either the Toronto or Edmonton Fringe Festivals, the Toronto Fringe New Play Contest, nor the Toronto Fringe Next Stage Festival. Technically I didn’t get into Ottawa Fringe either, but since it’s basically in my backyard, I’m taking the chance on the BYOV option
  • I applied to Zee Zee Theatre’s queer theatre residency with a new musical concept, but I didn’t move on in that offering either. I’ve already applied and will continue to apply for other theatre residencies and other creative opportunities as they are announced
  • My OAC Theatre Projects grant application was declined and the City of Ottawa Growth grant is limited to activities within the city. On the upside, I created my Canada Council for the Arts profile

And Then?

I’m renowned for saying that I don’t like lists, but my subtext was not liking the projected feeling of judgement — What’s on the list? How long is that going to take? Why isn’t it perfect? When I’ve looked back on previous lists and projects, I know I’ve achieved what I set out to accomplish

So, for 2023, I’m healing that subtext out of existence by publicly sharing my maintenance and creation goals in a dedicated channel on my Discord server. I haven’t included deadlines or urgency for most items — that may be a future goal 😀

At the same time, I’m getting even better at maintaining my energy capacity boundaries. I remain a firm believer in the Nap Ministry as I unlearn the internatlized, evil, capitalist demand to “always be productive”, while maintaining my sense of curiosity through lifelong learning.

I’d like to hear about your 2023 goals, projects, and current hyperfocus

Join me on Discord or add your comment to this blog post. My desire to maintain friendships and community include these virtual spaces

p.s. A high-level recap of a 2022 Emerging Artist

For those who missed previous updates:

Velvet Wells (Ottawa) stands on the balcony of the Ottawa Art Gallery, the city and skyline blurred behind them. Captured by Curtis Perry (2022)
  • One (1) very creative year! I felt supported and that I’d shifted from surviving to recuperating and progressing (thank you Sophie and Callum for that framing)
  • Three (3) new brand productions — “All Request Radio“, an improvised musical format, transitioned from virtual to the live stage; two (2) scripted works: “(Re)tired Magical Black Man” won three (3) awards and five (5) nominations; “Your Compliments Are My Curse Words” was written from the Shenkman Arts Centre stage thanks to an ARTicipate award
  • Five (5) festival shows – three (3) curated: Fresh Meat, LuminaTO, and Toronto Pride; two (2) non-juried: Halifax Fringe & Ottawa Fringe
  • Eight (8) financial awards and grants — Provincial, Municipal, and non-profit organizations greenlit me and my productions. I applied for half of them at the end of 2021, the others as submissions opened

Published by thedukers

Velvet Duke is a Black autistic queer entertainer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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