No Dream Deferred's
Dream Even Now Fund
In response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on theatre artists and especially Black, Indigenous, People of Color theatre artists, No Dream Deferred is honored to partner with Beaubourg Theatre in administering our No Dream Deferred...Dream Even Now Fund (NDDENF)
Our goal is to assist our artists communities in remaining healthy and whole during the pandemic. Theatre makers play a vital role in our community as storytellers, healers, culture bearers, and documentarians. BIPOC theater makers are often times the least supported and most vulnerable to economic depression. While battling the pandemic, economic depression, and the onslaught of police brutality and systemic racism, we seek to offer some respite, some support, some community care.
The first round of this program, launched in September 2020, honored 3 BIPOC artists in the New Orleans area. Additionally our second round was hosted in July 2021, awarding a series of EVEN NOW $500 micro-grants to New Orleans based Black Womxn Artists that will assist them in continuing their artistic practice during these tough economic times.
We invite you to join us by contributing to this fund. We can do this together. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on new sessions as well as grant recipients and our next round of investing in our community.
Meet the DREAM EVEN NOW fund recipients
Round 2 - Summer 2021
Kai Knight is a choreographer, performer, and instructor with over 35 years of professional experience. She is the founder and director of Seasons Center which hosts multi-cultural programs that assist women, families, and communities by application of faith, education, and the performing arts. She is the founder and executive director of Cultural Ties Dance Festival: Movement of the African Diaspora. Kai, who has founded and led various dance companies since 1990, is currently the artistic director of Silhouette Dance Ensemble and Breathe! /A Multi-Cultural Collective Breath through Movement Company. She is a featured performing artist of Junebug Productions/ Gomela and an active member of the following New Orleans-based cultural performance companies: Bamboula 2000 Band and Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective. In 2017, she choreographed and was a featured performer in “Le Code Noir,” directed by Tommye Myrick. Ms. Knight has studied dance at various institutions, workshops, and conferences locally and nationwide such as The Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute and IABD Dance Festival. She has traveled to Haiti to further study Haitian folklore in the Summer of 2018 and has studied Brazillian Dance with New Orleans’ own Casa Samba dance company. She has directed and presented numerous public arts events, dance, dramas, and productions and works with beginners through professional level dancers. She enjoys working with students of all ages and has done so through various institutions and intensives over the years. Kai is also an adjunct teacher at Loyola University where she teaches African diaspora movement,
ballet, and jazz. Her styles range from African, Haitian, Brazilian, modern, jazz, and contemporary. Kai’s goal is to continue to promote and facilitate individual, social, and community healing through movement and the integration of faith into performance arts, cultural awareness, and social justice.
Kai Knight's Upcoming projects include:
“Daughters Return” (to the door of no return) Community healing through process workshops. The final project will conclude stage/filmed production.
Restaging of “Eden to Eternity” A reflective dance production that revisits the stories of women in the bible but told through the lens of contemporary women’s lives and events.
Cultural Ties Dance Festival Presents: Place Congo- Restoration of the Spirit
Artist Workshops (Sept 2021- May 2022)
Cultural Ties Dance Festival July 5-10, 2022
Visual artist, activist, and native New Orleanian, Sheila Worthy Phipps became interested in drawing and painting in grade school at a very early age. Her work includes portraits, abstract art, and still life. She also utilizes an array of mediums including oils, acrylics, charcoal, and pastels. Her work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions throughout the country, including The Newcomb Museum, the New Orleans African American Museum, the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Additionally, Sheila has participated in hundreds of art festivals and jury shows and has won many awards for her artwork. Sheila also served as the Vice President of the New Orleans Chapter of the National Conference of Artists organization in 2008 for five years.
Apart from her professional work as an artist, Phipps also uses her passion as a method of activism. Since 2010, she has worked on “The Injustice Exhibition”, a series of portraits which profiles the stories of wrongfully and/or harshly accused prisoners. Phipps was inspired by her own personal experience with her son, former No Limit Records recording artist McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr., who served 21 years in prison out of a 30 years sentence for a crime he did not commit. The series was created to raise awareness to the level of injustice occurring throughout the judicial system. The exhibit is ongoing and was part of a traveling exhibition entitled the States of Incarceration which launched in New York City in 2016 at The New School. It traveled to 17 cities around the U.S. and to Paris, France.
In 2017, Sheila was awarded the first Artist-In-Residency for the Bar-None Organization, a New Orleans based organization who aims to transcend
incarceration through the arts by offering formerly incarcerated people opportunities for healing through the arts. While in residency, Phipps created a program entitled “Steps to Freedom”. As part of the program, Sheila held a series of workshops at various youth facilities where the participants painted shoes to symbolize steps to freedom.
Tommye Myrick (2020 Big Easy Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Recipient) is a native New Orleanian who attended Xavier University. Her interest in social justice was fueled by her acceptance into the famed “Free Southern Theater” at age 18.
After graduating from Xavier University, she attended The University of Michigan (U of M), receiving her master’s degree in Directing in just nine months. While working on her PhD. at U of M, she taught at Eastern Michigan University in its Speech Communications and Theatre Department. She later moved to New York City where she studied with renowned theater director, producer, mentor, and friend Gene Frankel. There she made her New York stage and directorial debut starring in Lawrence Holder’s one-woman show “Zora” and directing Norbert Davidson’s “El-Hajj Malik” (the life of Malcolm X). After returning to New Orleans, she was hired at the University of New Orleans in its Theater Department. In 1992, Ms. Myrick became the first African American director hired by Le Petit Theatre du Vieux du Carre in its 75-year history. Her production of August Wilson’s “Fences” won the 1992 “Big Easy Entertainment Award” as Best Drama and Best Director as did her production of Pearl Cleage’s “Flyin West “at Southern Repertory
Theatre in 1999. In 1992 she formed “Voices in the Dark Repertory Company” (an all- women African American theatre company); featured in Essence Magazine. In 1994 she was selected by the Institute of Outdoor Drama in North Carolina to direct "A Pathway to Freedom"; becoming the first woman and African American to direct a historical outdoor drama in America. She served as the Artistic Director of Southern University, Assistant Director of the Center for African and African American Studies, and the Executive Director of the New Orleans African American Museum.
Currently, Ms. Myrick is working to create New Orleans’ first historical outdoor called “Le Code Noir”, written by her and Mark R. Sumner. Le Code Noir chronicles the 30-year saga of an 18-year-old enslaved African girl who arrives on the auction block in the port of New Orleans from Saint- Domingue in 1794 after her master fled San Domingue during the Haitian Revolution. We witness her fortitude as she experiences major events in American history that shaped the making of Louisiana and its unique culture.
Find Tommye online at Voices in the Dark Repertory
Cherice Harrison-Nelson is an educator, narrative visual, Mardi Gras Indian Queen, and performance artist, and arts administrator. As the co-founder and curator of the former Mardi Fras Indian Hall of Fame, she was the co-editor of 11 publications and coordinated numerous exhibitions and panel discussions focused on West African inspired cultural traditions from New Orleans. Her creative expressions have been performed, presented and exhibited throughout the city and world. As queen of the Guardians of the Flame Maroon Society she has graced stages throughout the world. She performs annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Ashe’s Essence Festival, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Maafa, and the Guardians Institute’s St. Joseph Day Open House. She is the Education and Outreach Coordinator of the Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. Book Club. In that capacity she has coordinated hundreds of in-school educational presentations featuring New Orleans artists for thousands of children. Additionally, she is the director of Congo Kids. Congo Kids is a youth program focused on using drumming to foster appreciation of African Diaspora cultural expressions.She contributed to original hand-beaded Carnival Day ceremonial attire worn by her son and acquired by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum in Washington, DC. Her production credits include: a DVD documentary, music CD, original plays, and the award-winning narrative short film, “Keeper of the Flame.” She is the recipient of several honors including: Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Teacher of the Year, Mayor’s Arts Award, 2016 United States Artist Fellowship and a 2020-21 Joan Mitchell Artist-in-Residence award. She
approaches her art as a cognitive provocateur, with the specific intent to engage observers through imagery and performance that simultaneously explore gender roles, classism and other limiting/confining norms. Her work is primarily
autobiographical as well as simultaneously ancient and contemporary. She uses imagery from her family history, ancestral homeland and life experiences, she is her primary muse. To quote, “I am not masking when I debut my ceremonial attire on Carnival morning, I am revealing my authentic self, naked and rooted in the strength of my personal history. I cannot mask as myself.” She is currently appearing throughout the City of New Orleans as a contemporary Plague Doctor character in a performance installation focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and writing her autobiography, it is tentatively titled: Queen Reesie: Pretty, Pretty and So Much More.
See Queen Cherice in action on Facebook
Round 1 - Spring 2021
Chipo Kandake is a filmmaker and live performing artist whose work explores the histories of the Femme Funk music genre, Afro Indigenous dance traditions of Latin America, and other cultural practices of the African Diaspora. Since 2016, Kandake primarily studied traditional dances throughout the carribean such as the Merengue of Dominican Republic, Salsa of Cuba and Cumbia of Mexico. After receiving her BA in Film Studies from Dillard University in 2018, Kandake worked alongside food historian and published author Zella Palmer on the “Black Hand in the Pot: The Story of Louisiana Creole Cooking.” This short documentary identifies the influences of West Africa and Indigenous Americans cooking traditions that greatly molds Louisiana cuisine. Additionally, Kandake served as the editor assistant at New Orleans Tribune, the first African American daily newspaper in the United States. She also served as Content Director for the Material Life, a New Orleans based shop that focuses on literature, Pop culture memorabilia, and other archival works of the Global Black community. In 2019, Chipo curated “Femme Funk,” a music and live performance series that highlights black femmes contribution to the Funk genre in collaboration with visual artist Mickalene Thomas and the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans. Kandake created the “Sacral Shock Sessions,” a virtual dancing healing series that utilizes Afro Indigenious dance traditions with a focus in primitive movement. Kandake is currently filming a pilot series that connects the communal dance traditions of the New Orleans second line and the street performances of the Guinea dance style throughout the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. She continues to curate “Femme Funk”, as a online platform through instagram and is offering dance healing services online.
Voice Monet embodies everything you don’t initially expect from the business of Hip Hop. Instead, she is a walking manifestation of the culture and what can happen when the youthful creativity behind the culture grows up. Voice launched her professional career at the very early age of 5 years old when she signed with her first talent agent as a child actress in Los Angeles, beginning her journey of building an extensive repertoire of performance arts training. At sixteen she transitioned her artistic focus to visual arts and later graduated from the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and went on to study Media Arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Before relocating to NY while still in high school, a happenstance college SLAM contest entry (to pay for a parking ticket) resulted in Ms. Monet taking home the 1st place bag. Although Words may have been her first love, she discovered that their relationship to music would be the vehicle that would elevate the way in which her stories could be told.
Her grace, precise playfulness, versatility, and unique perspective as an orator span across genres and decades with next level rap skills as the anchor that holds everything down. Voice’s performance style reveals a visceral understanding of what hip hop culture has stood for; real talent is undeniable and doesn’t require all of the bells and whistles to impress you.
Live shows range from intimate solo sets, paired with her touring DJ and long time collaborator P.U.D.G.E., or even a trio/full band feel like a golden ticket to your secret crush’s house party with the best sound system. Coming with sounds reminiscent of
Bahamadia, Lauryn Hill and LadyBug Mecca of Digable Planets while often compared to the West Coast smoothness of Snoop Dogg by her international fans, Voice has crafted a style that is all her own and claims her place with confidence and grace amongst the greats.
Ms. Monet is an artist’s artist. A skilled and heralded jazz trumpeter once told her “your approach to rap mirrors that of a skilled jazz musician”. It comes as no surprise that her ability to master a ceremony would land her a headlining spot at Montreal Jazz Festival in 2013 with celebrated French producer Wax Tailor. The pair earned RIAA Certified Silver & Gold plaques for their intercontinental collaborations “The Games You Play” (2008) and “This Train” feat Ali Harter (2010) from Wax Tailor’s celebrated full lengths Hope & Sorrow (2007) and In The Mood For Life (2009). In 2015 Ms. Monet was the recipient of The Kindle Project’s Makers Muse Artist Grant following an anonymous nomination for being an artist who inspires and works to empower other artists. She quickly put those grant funds to use to relieve herself of the work grind, home school her kids, and of course make more music and art. While working from home in 2016 she released the seven song film noir themed EP, Black Maria. She also served as a Louisiana Delegate at the Slow Food Terra Madre annual meetup in Torino, Italy where she was invited to both document and perform.
Akilah Toney is an 18 year old published writer, poet, dancer, photographer, and youth advocate from New Orleans, Louisiana. From writing and dancing at the age of 10, Akilah uses the arts as a means to amplify her experiences at the intersections of young Black womanhood in the south. Akilah has been honored as the 2016 Pizza Poetry Laureate of New Orleans, the 2018 Grand Slam Poetry Champion of New Orleans, a recipient of 2017 and 2018 National Scholastic Gold Key Award, a 2018 American Voices Nominee, a 2018 National Student Poets semi-finalist, and the 2019 Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key and Silver Key Award. Akilah has been featured in 826 New Orleans publications, Medium’s Heated magazine, Nola.com, Vogue.com, the New York Times, and the I Am New Orleans Poetry Anthology. Akilah has performed and worked with the Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute, Dancing Grounds, JuneBug Productions, Studio BE, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
About my Practice: When I'm creating, I'm deeply focused on bringing whatever I create to life. I've come to realize that I am a Griot in training, and my art allows me to be in community with those around me. Part of my artistry is being in conversation with the South, my childhood, and perceptions of time overall. When there is a certain poetry line, word, color, or rhythm that comes to mind it sticks with me until I can create a body of work from it. I give life to my writing, photography, dancing, audio and visual creations, and they give me life too.