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2021/2022 Year in Review

“as we shall hereafter see, this was not true”

“hereafter,” usage example ^ from Oxford Dictionary.

The past, behind us. The present moment, fleeting. What comes next? What does the “next world” look like? From now on, after this, what are the possibilities? A season themed around the idea of hereafter, we explored these questions through carving new pathways for Suitcase intersecting technology and storytelling, found spaces and a myriad of community voices. 

Uncertain of what the future held, yet determined to dream up safe and engaging audience and artist experiences, we sought out creative ideas that could bring artists’ works to life and people together to share in unique experiences throughout our city. 

To kick things off, Suitcase in Point celebrated our 20th anniversary with a fresh new look and a major fundraising campaign, raising $15,918.00 to help support our commitment to original programming, arts mentorship and the presentation of hundreds of artists at our annual In the Soil Arts Festival. 

It was incredible to see the community, near and far, come together in support of our work. THANK YOU!

Suitcase in Point’s 20th season offered extra special programs, including a brand new audio experience, Lost & Found Mixtape; a winter edition of RHIZOMES that illuminated unique places in our neighbourhoods, the 14th annual In the Soil Arts Festival, and our annual Arts Mentorship Programs for emerging artists, arts workers and creative youth. 

Dig in to the details of the season below!

ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS

Lost & Found Mixtape

In December 2021, we produced a new audio experience, Lost & Found Mixtape

Lost & Found, part time capsule and part community conversation was developed by folks living in and around the Niagara Region and woven together by Suitcase in Point artists, Deanna Jones, Michelle Mohammed, Marcel Stewart and Kaylyn Valdez-Scott.

In a time where individual and collective healing is paramount. Lost & Found Mixtape connected us through the imaginations and voices of 15 contributing artists, stitched together to offer an exploratory narrative that offers stories, poems, anecdotes, spoken word pieces, original songs and everything in between. 

From being lost in love and floating in space, to finding yourself and what it means to be home, this original production became an intimate discovery that explores what it means to be lost and what it means to be found.

This project was funded in part by Niagara Community Foundation and Niagara Region’s, Niagara Investment in Culture program. Thank you!

RHIZOMES: Lost & Found

By illuminating familiar places in unfamiliar and extraordinary ways, RHIZOMES has historically been recognized as the flagship event of Suitcase in Point’s annual In the Soil Arts Festival. Now reimagined to be its own stand-alone, awe-inspiring event RHIZOMES: Lost & Found offered an incredible experience that engaged audiences under the magical backdrop of the city emerging from a turbulent winter.

Inspired by original audio on our Lost & Found Mixtape, RHIZOMES: Lost & Found delivered a series of site-specific audio/visual installations throughout downtown St. Catharines and became an innovative collision of contemporary audio and video art, bringing audiences together for sweet, surprising and provoking experiences in unique and unfamiliar places. 

This self-guided tour through our downtown was delivered through a smartphone app developed by EXAR Studios and incorporated augmented reality experiences along the way. The architecture of our downtown neighbourhoods was changed for a fleeting weekend and the response from audiences was astounding. 

A huge shout out to Fourgrounds Media Inc. who worked with us to document this one-time experience, allowing it to live on and be enjoyed for years to come. 

Thank you to the Province of Ontario for support through the Reconnect Festival and Events program for helping this original production come to light. 

LAUGH TOGETHER-ERS COMEDY SERIES

The Suitcase in Point comedy cabaret team spent months developing new comic material over Zoom calls with comedian Lisa Brooke and guest emerging artists Josh Loewen, Ren Reid and Alex Sykes.

Through the year, we came ripping through internet cables to test out our newest sketches with a series of FREE online sharings.

We can’t wait to get back to live, in person shows. Stay tuned.

Big thanks to St. Catharines Cultural Investment Program for support through a Revitalization Grant.

IN THE SOIL ARTS FESTIVAL

IN THE SOIL ARTS ARTS FESTIVAL 2022

In June 2022, Suitcase in Point launched our 14th annual In the Soil Arts Festival sharing artists’ works inspired by the theme of hereafter. In the spirit of planning for the unknown, Suitcase in Point designed a festival program that was delivered throughout the entire summer and began with a robust launch weekend in downtown St. Catharines. 

From an unstoppable program of live music featuring Great Lake Swimmers, Radio Radio, Witch Prophet, Strong Water Singers, The Ferns and more, to an eclectic variety of site-specific experiences like Trophy’s immersive listening party Remixed, APED Studio’s Immanuel, an enveloping post-human VR experience, and Sean Aileen and Iain Ellis’ Soft Animals sonic duet in the courtyard of the Old Courthouse that weaved together stunning vocals, guitar and the poetry of Mary Oliver. For those lucky enough to catch Hercinia Arts Collective’s Peep Box, a marvellous program of performances were eaten up  from within the confines of an 8’x8’ box. 

Our festival launch weekend was nothing short of bombastic and kicked us off into a summer series of new theatre, including Roselyn Kelada Sedra’sSister Warriors at Oddfellows Hall, Re:Current Theatre’s New Societies at Robertson Theatre and Red Betty Theatre’s Blackberry at Merritt Island park in Welland. The series also included a photography exhibit by Julianna D’Intino (Connecting Rods at an empty building on James Street) and a special live-streamed performance by JFM (River Rider, streamed from the banks of the Welland River). 

A huge thank you to the fantastic roster of volunteers who came out to help us deliver our ambitious festival. Thank you to Patty Krawec for your thoughtful sensitivity training and to our amazing Sponsors: Ontario Power Generation, Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of FIne and Performing Arts, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Call Karl at Remax. 

ARTS MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS

Our season wouldn’t be complete without our Arts Mentorship Programs. We got to know and learn from so many creative and passionate young people through our various programs and partner with awesome local groups like Willow Arts Community, OUT Niagara, OPIRG Brock, Niagara Artists Centre and Niagara Folk Arts Centre in the delivery of several workshops for the community. 

NEST ARTIST RESIDENCY 
The Nest Artist Residency wrapped its third year of compelling creation and community gathering! A big shout out to our 2022 residents – Skye, Taylor, Shendel, Nathan, Nyasha and Molly. These incredible emerging artists from across the Niagara Region came together for six months of workshops, forums, and mentorship to culminate in a weekend of fun that combined several disciplines to showcase their original work.

Nest Fest (July 15-16) was a chance for our residents to show their magnificent works in progress. Downtown St. Catharines was treated to a walk-through poetry experience in Mahtay Cafe, a play reading in Someday Books, and rooftop screenings at the Niagara Artists Centre. They created a photography book surprise for Brazen Cafe visitors and an interactive arts experience throughout the whole downtown core. 

Through the residents’ six-month journey, they were mentored by trailblazers in the Canadian theatre industry. A huge thank you to these phenomenal artists who took the time to share their knowledge, time, and advice with our residents. To Coyote Park, Miquelon Rodriguez, Karen Knox, Michael Healey, Deanna Jones, and Marcel Stewart – THANK YOU!!

We are incredibly grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support in funding our Arts Mentorship Program, and to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts for supporting our emerging artist showcases at the 2022 In the Soil Arts Festival. 

ELECTRIC INNOVATIONS – YOUTH THEATRE INTENSIVE
During this unparalleled theatre intensive for youth aged 14-19, renowned Canadian theatre artists facilitate a week of workshops, followed by a week of creating original work under the guidance of Lead Artist Mentors, Michelle Mohammed and Marcel Stewart. 

This year, our participants spent one week uncovering their creativity and delving into the world of theatre and creation. Working exclusively with some of Canada’s most celebrated theatre makers, these artists explored foundation “pillars” in theatre creation: learning how to create from their bodies, create original work, take risks and play, think like a designer, diving into text-work, and learning what life as an actor in Canada really looks like. 

This program allowed our participants to develop their artistic toolkit, learning how to collaborate with each other and expand their understanding of theatre making, while discovering more about their personal artistic interests and pursuits. 

Our Electric Innovators wrapped up their one-week theatre intensive with an “Arts Day” – spending an entire Saturday witnessing art in the Niagara Region. On this “Arts Day”, they explored Suitcase in Point’s 2022 “Nest Fest” and watched Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins the Shaw Festival followed by an exclusive Q&A with cast members. Both incredible shows allowed our participants to concretely understand the teachings in their week-long program, expanding preconceived notions of what theatre is, how we create, and how we can tell stories.  

We want to give a huge thank you to our founding partners at The National Theatre School of Canada for their ongoing support and graciousness towards the development program. We also want to thank Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts for their production support. We’d like to thank the Shaw Festival for generously providing our group with tickets to an incredible show. Finally, we want to thank our guest artists, Miriam Fernandes, Cole Alvis, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster, and Joanna Yu for their incredible willingness, creativity, and collaboration on their workshop offerings. 

INTERNSHIPS
Suitcase continued to provide new-generation artists and arts workers in Niagara with hands-on skills development and mentorship, to build personal and professional capacity, and strengthen discipline-based artistic competencies through our annual internship program. 

Funded by Canada Summer Jobs, five youth were hired by the company for 10 weeks as part of the staff team in the delivery of the In the Soil Multi-Arts Festival. These fantastic people: Laura, Marianne, Michael, Brooke and Kai, contributed a mountain of energy and hard work to the SIP team. Thank you! 

THE TEAM

STAFF & BOARD OF DIRECTORS
A huge applause to the astounding team that made it all happen! The collaborative work of the incredible people that make up Suitcase in Point’s staff and Board of Directors was delivered humbly, diligently and never without humour. Thank you all! 

We’re proud to have taken root in Niagara twenty years ago and in our ability to inspire, respond to and grow with our community. From plays, to comedy cabarets, to mixtapes, to smokin’ concerts and dance parties, Suitcase in Point has believed in the possibility of contemporary, risk-taking and adventurous culture in Niagara. Our 20th season was full of growth, collaboration and creativity. And we have big, bold plans for the future. 

As our roots grow deeper and our branches reach higher, we look forward to the next chapter of Suitcase in Point, to furthering our work with the next generation of creative leaders, artistic collaborators and our local community. 

Your ongoing contributions go a long way to help support and sustain the innovative work of Suitcase in Point. 

A huge thank you to all of the artists who shared their magic with us. To our supporters, partners, donors and friends along the way! We wouldn’t be here without your ongoing love.

With sincere gratitude,
The team at Suitcase in Point

FINANCIALS