Posted by: nancykenny | October 26, 2009


I’ve never been a big fan of ultimatums. Not in relationships, in work or in life in general. They’re just so… final.

As you may know, I’ve been working on a one woman roller derby show that I would like to tour cross-country next year on the Canadian Fringe Festival Circuit. Applications to the majority of festivals is by lottery. To make touring a tad easier on the performer, an organization called the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals holds their own lottery every fall for the chance to participate in every festival of your choosing. You may or may not get in, but if you do, your entire touring schedule is now secured for the summer, months ahead of most local lottery deadlines.

The only hick? You need to have the cash for every single festival you want to apply to upfront. In my case, a potential 7 city tour, that comes up to almost $5000. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of money lying around (and if you do have that kind of money lying around, we should talk!). If I did, I wouldn’t have been emptying out my cupboards of all canned goods since I’ve come back from China because my bills need paying and groceries seem to be a luxury at the moment.

So, I did the only thing a starving artist can do: I called my mom.

My mom was somewhat open to the idea. After all, I did get a grant from the City of Ottawa to write this piece. I talked to her about the lottery and how if I did not get in there would be no charges on her part. I would then apply individually to the various festivals and try my luck there. And of course she would be getting her money back by the end of the summer once my tour is done. However, my mom may have misunderstood my initial request. She seemed to think all I needed for the tour was $5000. After reviewing my budget plan, which brings expenses closer to the $20,000 mark, she did what all good moms would do. She kinda freaked.

And that’s when the ultimatum reared it’s ugly head. I’ve got until March to make this work. March is approximately when you can drop out of most festivals without incurring too much of a penalty.

I’m waiting to hear if I’ve received some grants that I’ve already applied for in December and there are new deadlines for other funding opportunities as well, but I’m scared. There is so much in this that involves chance and I’ve never really been that lucky before. This project means so much to me, but will it sell? Audiences across Canada are fickle. If I knew what they wanted, I’d be the greatest publicist on earth. But I don’t know. All I can do is go about on blind faith (with a strong dash of hard work) and pray that it all pays off. My mother does not doubt that a Fringe tour would be a wonderful, soul-fulfilling experience. She just does not want me to go into a 5-digit debt load to accomplish that.

I guess there’s no use in worrying about this right now. With my lotto luck, I may not get into a single festival next summer.



  1. It’s a show about roller derby right? Um, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but that is the coolest thing on the planet right now. Huge interest in it partially due to the revival of it a few years ago, more so because of the much publicized and wonderfully made film Whip It that just came out. Roller Derby is going through what Burlesque went through a few years back.
    *Cue omnipotent corn field voice*”If you do it, they will come.”

    If in your writing of it it turns into more than a one-woman show, give me a call. I’d love to cash in on the trend, um, I mean, be involved.

    • This would require explaining such words as “revival” and “cool” to my mother…
      And if there is any way to cash in… I mean, get involved, I will let you know!

  2. duder, are you planning to travel by diamond powered jet ski? Talk to me, and I will help you get your budget down. (unless of course 10 grand of that goes to your dramaturg…)

  3. Maybe sponsorship? I know several musicians who have funded/are funding their recording projects that way—one is recording a song a month and sending it to people who’ve essentially pre-ordered the CD; another went for straight-up sponsorship (of the whole CD or of individual tracks) with a few bonuses for supporters; these guys take the bonuses even further, to dinner, merch, credit, and even a personal song. Not sure how some of those would work for a theatre show; maybe preview video of a scene, or naming a character (some fiction authors do this too), or the chance to take you on on the track? $20k sounds like a lot (’cause, let’s be honest, it is) but it’s nowhere near impossible….

    Plus, sponsors in Fringe cities == advertisers!

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