So Ya Want To Do Kamloopa eh?
There have been many inquiries from companies and people wanting to present Kamloopa which is really exciting! After some deep work and with the desire to be radically transparent and reduce my labour, I'm going to share with you what you as a company need to do to hold Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story.
Education - if you haven't read the blogs about the work start there. Listen to the podcast, you'll get an intimate understanding of the way I'm working and that is critical to having us safely in your space. You then have to do the cultural competency training with you and your entire staff and board before we get there and give me your word you've done everything you can to ensure our safety while in your space.
We will be your guests and I won't bring or position Indigenous women or my all female design team, into spaces where their safety, dignity and artistic excellence will be compromised. That is your work that you have most likely not done and need to go fill in those organizational gaps.
Community - as an organization you need to do the work to build relationships with the Indigenous people, organizations, schools and community on the Indigenous territory your company currently illegally occupies. This work might take a couple years and that is fine with me because that is the work and power of Indigenous storytelling that prioritizes the new relationship needed between settlers and Indigenous peoples.
I believe it to be unethical to just parachute in and out of a territory, presence Indigenous relationality, ontology and ceremony without being there for the community to ensure their wellbeing upon our departure. We as a Fire Company are dropping in and you are there with some level of permanence so it is your responsibility. You also have to want to do that work with the same intention and respect as you wine and dine your biggest donor.
You have to be set up and or build your capacity to hold these nuanced Indigenous knowings, ways of creating and sharing. You have to know the names of the Executive team at your local Friendship Centre and local Indigenous youth centre, you have to know the allies in the departments at the University's near you that will get us into their classrooms and onto their syllabuses, you have to meet with the local critics on how they can engage with the work, you have to create space to hold and organize Community of Practices and you have to build your relationships with the Indigenous community to make your space safe for Indigenous peoples.
I won't do Kamloopa with house compositions of less than 20% Indigenous community members. We might be able to negotiate that number if you've done the work to rationalize why your organization can't deliver and you can tell me why it's still important to present in your space but that's my expectation. That's how I'm creating Indigenous story, that's how I'm working towards achieving equity in the sector - this work is way more meaningful than the play itself.
Renumeration - everyone needs a living wage period. That is the minimum I will even begin to consider before bringing Kamloopa. For me that looks like $1250-$1500 a week.
And don't start colonizing these numbers with "hourly" wage metrics - that's bull shit which feeds into capitalist hegemony. Artists deliver on predominantly intense and extraordinary moments of creativity that cannot be confined or narrowed under time.
After you take into consideration taxes, health and medical needs, insurance, retirement savings, housing, food and transportation - this number seems even absurd that they are also being compensated for their artistry.
For Indigenous artists in the approach of artistic ceremony, which is how I work, they will be doing a lot of work for your community that goes beyond the proscenium and they need to be compensated for that. Their presence will also serve you in the future via many transactions: you will use us in grants, you will use our faces for your diversity campaigns, you will use our likeness to benefit your organization and that needs to be accounted for in full.
So, how do we get there? I don't want to waste any of our time talking about how you can't. You're very smart people, who run innovative companies and I'm offering you use that approach to engage with work like Kamloopa. You need to be prepared to do the work, sometimes years in advance squirrelling away the resources to equitably have us as your guests.
I won't have anyone coming to work feeling shortchanged, nothing good comes from that place. So you might have to apply for grants to get that extra scrill to have us, you might have to take from your Mary Poppins budget and assign it to the budget line in your annual budget that you can call the Indigenous equity fund, you might have to give us percentages of box office sales to cover your shortcomings on the front end but again that is your work to do with your board.
I'd watch almost every show of Kamloopa and the Fire Holders would jokingly yell at me as I tried to sneak in just before the lights went down "Hiiiiiiiii MOOOOM!!!" and they'd wave like goofs and we'd laugh and giggle and like a soccer mom I would yell back "don't embarrass me."
I'm saying to you lovely producers wanting to have us - don't embarrass me and don't embarrass yourselves with numbers that are too low.
This is the equity required after years of your organization failing to do the work to have Indigenous peoples in your space. If at any point you've read this and thought thats "too much" work, money or anything, then I encourage you to remember that I have been positioned to make these requests because your organization has neglected to do so.
You've either inherited systems of oppression and white supremacy and maintain them and or your inventing new modes of white and settler supremacy that continue to marginalize Indigenous peoples and that your bizness to sort out.
If you're thinking, we just can't do all of that and therefore we can't present Kamloopa than that's your continued complicity in maintaining the status quo and your participation in the erasure and genocide of Indigenous peoples. And I'm fucking serious.
What people are surprised at is that I keep saying - I don't need Kamloopa to tour the world, I don't need it to be everywhere at any cost because that mentality is a colonial tactic and trap based on a delivery system that is anti-Indigenous. I am here to work on the relationships between the settlers and Indigenous peoples on this land - right here. This my MO and now it yours too.
So if you don't do the labour to fill in the gaps of your organization to hold Indigenous ways of being then don't call yourself an ally, don't call yourself a friend and certainly don't call me and say you want to present Kamloopa.
This is the work canadians.
This is how I will work towards achieving peace, equity and sovereignty for my people. My writing and creation work is a political act that refuses white supremacy and fiercely holds space for Indigenous resurgence and continuance. You want Kamloopa, you want my work, well you just been delivered the terms.
I am and continue to be very transparent with the Fire Company about how I'm choosing to work and they are extremely supportive because they know we are working for something that is bigger than ourselves. It is their power and generosity that truly supports this way of working and I'm so grateful for each of them.
With deep respect, understanding and humility for the Good Work,