In June of 2021, we will present the first ever Indigenous Fringe Festival - the Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival (NIFF).
The Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival will be very different from other Fringe Festivals. NIFF is an Indigenous-led project based in a holistic approach to creating a community of support for Indigenous artists rooted in culture and building for a sustainable future. For this reason, the Festival will include the Knowledge Sharing Project - an extensive commitment to the development and transmittal of cultural knowledge and creative practice.
Sharing food, spending time in the Traditional Area (Tipi, Sweat Lodge and Medicine Garden) on the Trent University campus, connecting with local Elders and sharing cultural practices will be central to the project. The project has also been invited by the Band Council to travel to the nearby Curve Lake First Nation to share with the community.
Throughout the project, artists will be supported in leading their own learning. Festival performers will be offered the option of mentorship with either Drew Hayden-Taylor or Muriel Miguel in a format which may include the mentor’s attendance at rehearsals, script or performance development exercises or other interactions.
Skill development in production and arts administration will also be addressed. There will be specific workshops in tour management and “how to Fringe” led by experienced producers Deb Ratelle and Lee Bolton. Unlike other Fringes, where companies are left on their own to manage their technical needs and work to the very tight schedules of the festival, mentorship will be offered to all performing companies by Nozhem Technical Director Don White.
Other workshops are also being developed, most of which will be open to regional artists as well as those performing in the Fringe. Currently under consideration are playwriting, clown, direction, storytelling and community collaboration with senior artists and teachers Drew Hayden Taylor, Muriel Miguel, Hilary Wear, Joeann Argue and Ange Loft. Final decisions about which workshops will be offered will be made in consultation with the Fringe artists once they are confirmed in February 2020.
The NIFF Knowledge Sharing Project is fortunate to be supported by an experienced and generous group of teaching artists. Well-known playwright, novelist and commentator Drew Hayden Taylor has been with the project since the beginning and Muriel Miguel and Deborah Ratelle of the legendary Spiderwoman Theater company have a long history of work in Nogojiwanong and joined enthusiastically in the early stages of planning. The Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies at Trent University is very supportive of the Festival and the Knowledge Sharing Project and continues to offer opportunities for the sharing of cultural knowledge. The NIFF Collective is made up of three women with extensive performance, teaching and administrative experience.
The Knowledge Sharing Project at the Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival will advance the artistic development of participating Fringe artists as well as other local and regional Indigenous artists, increase the organizational and administrative capacity of participating arts groups, improve representation of Indigenous artists in the Fringe movement and beyond, connect artistic and traditional Elders with developing artists and arts practices, and promote Indigenous performing arts in the Nogojiwanong region.