This season Suitcase in Point set out to embrace change.
Reversals and switches.
In preparation for our 21st year of programming, the Suitcase in Point crew spent thinking, sharing, reflecting and planning a season of change. We met changes in our company staff. We said goodbye to incredible folks, we welcomed in new, awesome folks and were feeling equipped with new energies and ways of programming, both in person and digitally.
No matter what, we have all experienced some form of change and we questioned, what can that do for us? What does change do to us? We invested our energies in projects that explored these questions through a season of off-the-charts arts experiences that invited us and the community to think about it together.
Suitcase Scratch Nights
This season we introduced Scratch Nights, a monthly opportunity for local and visiting artists to share small bites of work in progress. The last Friday of every month, folks came out to our studio space, The Green, to check out some incredible local and visiting artists who were testing out new material. Whether spoken word, music, comedy, script development, short stories and more, Scratch Nights became a popular opportunity for artists to develop work with the help of an open and generous audience. We met so many wonderful people and look forward to carrying on this monthly program for years to come.
This year’s featured Scratch Artists included: Colin Keus, Fiona Dunbar, Deanna Jones & Michelle Mohammed, Dienye Waboso Amajor, Josh Loewen, The Nesters, Anthony Perri, Alex Ring, Sahar Saeidi, Samuel Donovan, Laura Maieron, Paolo Bozzo, Michael Cicchini, Avery Delaney, Kosar Dakhilalian, Mary Ivison, Chance Mutuku, Guled Abdi, Edwin Conroy Jr., Nyasha, Maddie Bomhof, Zakk Miline & Tyra Hayward, Iodetta, Brian Foster, Genevieve Jones, and more!
SIP TV: The Big Pitch Comedy Cabaret
Welcome to SIP TV, inspired by the golden age of television and modern day streaming services. Imagine commercials, movies, news, soaps, infomercials, late night TV, daytime TV, talk shows, variety, reality TV, bingeable shows on Netflix, Crave, Hulu hoop … you get the deal. SIP TV: The Big Pitch Comedy Cabaret was a rollicking parody of an on-demand streaming service, but all the programming is live. This original sketch comedy show was generously sponsored by CAA Niagara and presented on our home-turf in Oddfellows Hall and included a special donor appreciation preview performance. Check out this show recap made by Naomi Senwasane.
Metanoia (In two Parts)
Part One: Metanoia: The Mixtape - January 2023, Online
Inspired by the success of Suitcase in Point’s Freedom (2020) and Lost & Found (2021) Mixtapes, Metanoia: The Mixtape was our third original audio experience that explored the concept of profound change, radical transformation and the unending variables of life. Suitcase in Point invited community members to submit an audio recording – a song, poem, anecdote or story, piece of music, spoken word, or stream of consciousness thoughts inspired by their relationship to the concept of change. The final piece continues to stream online. Listen here. Contributing artists included: Alex Ring, Deanna Jones, Del Stephen, Dienya Waboso Amajor, Farai Tigere, GInger Quaint, Jesse Frank Matthews, Kai Kristoff, Lacie Williamson, Marshall Bureau, R.A. Dempsey, Roselyn Kelada-Sedra, Sahar Saeidi, Sarah Rowe, Shannon Kitchings and edited by Deanna Jones with sound engineer, Andrew Johnson.
Part Two: Metanoia: The Immersive Experience
Inspired by our mixtape, Metanoia: The Immersive Experience journeyed audiences through a guided tour to site-specific audio, visual and performance installations that momentarily re-imagined a variety of public spaces in downtown St. Catharines. Metanoia: The Immersive Experience, shared various artistic interpretations of change to life, while literally transforming the everyday landscape of the downtown St. Catharines Civic Centre. Directed by Suitcase in Point’s Artistic Director, Deanna Jones with contributing artists: Shannon Kitchings, Heryka Miranda, Roselyn Kelada-Sedra, Mayumi Lashbrook, Phil Davies, Chance Mutuku, Lauren Garbutt, Alex Ring, Dienye Waboso Amajor, Sahar Saedi, Lacie Williamson, Skye Rogers, Eve and Zen Atoms, Farai Tigere and Dahlia Steinberg.
The Big Time Fundraiser for Suitcase in Point
The Big Time Fundraiser for Suitcase in Point welcomed leading Canadian and local artists to the stage at Oddfellows Hall in downtown St. Catharines in an effort to raise $5,000 toward our annual fundraising goal of $12,000 - and we did it! A Big Time thanks to all who came out to an evening of laughter, music, food, fun and dancing. The evening began with the sweet stylings of JUNO Award-winning jazz vocalist Sammy Jackson at an incredible Silent Auction Reception, followed by comedy performances from Deanna Jones, Rob Feetham, Edwin Conroy Jr., Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch and Brian Connelly of instrumental rock band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The night was capped off on the dance floor with curated tunes courtesy of celebrated local DJs Dave Stiles and Chance Mutuku. This incredible night was stitched together by host and Suitcase in Point co-founder, Brian Foster. Check out this fabulous re-cap video made by Suitcase in Point board director, Rick Fast.
The 15th Annual In the Soil Arts Festival - June 9-16, 2023; Downtown St. Catharines
The 15th annual In the Soil Arts Festival showcased new work from local and visiting artists sharing theatre, music, comedy, dance and site-specific installations. This week-long curation of various presentations continued to revolve around our season’s theme of change. The festival included a new-theatre series, concerts, interactive workshops, showcases from our emerging Nest Artists Residents and Electric Innovations Youth Theatre Program, and our flagship site-specific event, RHIZOMES. A huge thank you to all of the artists, volunteers, venue partners, sponsors, audiences and incomparable staff who all made this very special 15th annual explosion of creativity in downtown St. Catharines happen.
The Nest Artist Residency
Taking place over eight months (November 2022 – June 2023), The Nest Artist Residency offered four local emerging artists, Michael Cicchini, Kosar Dakhilalian, Avery Delaney and Mary Ivison an opportunity to develop a creative impulse throughout a series of in-person and on-line workshops, meetings and discussions under the leadership of Suitcase in Point’s Arts Mentorship Program Director, Dienye Waboso Amajor. Suitcase in Point worked with each artist to connect them with a dream-mentor to help in the development of their work. This year’s professional mentors included: Jason Cadieux, Ruth Howard, Evalyn Parry and Pearl VanGeest. In addition, artists in residence were offered a series of artist-led workshops, forum discussions, facilitated group writing nights, studio time and each had the opportunity to share their work at In the Soil Arts Festival.
“The ability to have my work be heard, received, and then responded to helped me to know where I was, where I wanted to go, and what I needed to do to move forward.” - 2023 Nest Artist Resident
Electric Innovations Youth Theatre Program
This 12-week theatre program for youth aged 14–19 offered a weekly creative outlet for 8 incredible youths to train, create and perform under the guidance of renowned Canadian theatre artists including lead artist, Cole Lewis, assistant artist, Molly Louise Lacey, and guest artists: Yolanda Bonnell, Marcel Stewart, Michelle Mohammed and James McCoy.
This 12-week program, offered in-studio at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and in partnership with National Theatre School of Canada, resulted in a showcase of the participant’s work at In the Soil Arts Festival. A great big congratulations to participants: Maggie, Evan, Cameron, Sharlotte, Briar, Alastar and Jamie Lynn!
Suitcase in Point offered a series of workshops for artists and arts-workers throughout the year to build artistic skills in a variety of disciplines including: Black Girl Improv, in partnership with Future Black Female; Building and Managing Your Online Presence with Tamara Jensen and Katie MacCabe; Grant Writing for the Arts with Deanna Jones and Theatre Ecology and Structure with Marcel Stewart.
In addition to a robust season of original programming, In the Soil Arts Festival and arts mentorship programs, Suitcase in Point partnered with many local organizations on exciting projects including: ON STAGE: A Black History Month Variety Show with Future Black Female; an International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination event with Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre; Black Girl Picnic with Future Black Female.
This year, Suitcase in Point was the proud recipient of the St. Catharines Downtown Association’s Downtown Business Excellence Award for Community & Collaboration. This award is presented by the Streetscape & Sustainability Committee in recognition to businesses who have gone above and beyond in the areas of collaboration, community support and curb appeal.