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Crowded Fire Theater Announces 2022 IGNITE FUND Recipients

Granting $10,000 to Bay Area designers and technicians.

Crowded Fire Theater (CFT), known as a vital home for new play development and production on the West Coast, announce Miaccuicatl Alexander, Alexa Burrell, Brooke L Jennings, Kevin Lo, and Sara Witsch as the sixth cohort of IGNITE FUND awardees. The IGNITE FUND awards a total of $10,000 annually to support the growth of and enhance the working lives of Bay Area theater designers and technicians through a competitive grant process.

"We are grateful to the anonymous donor who supports the IGNITE FUND annually. It is so important to prioritize theater art makers of all kinds," commented Production Manager Stephanie Alyson. "The IGNITE FUND was created to invest in the sustainability and growth of individual artists who have very few opportunities for funding via grants and awards. This year's artists work throughout the Bay Area in a variety of disciplines, and therefore impact the sustainability of the greater Bay Area theater community."

Just as Crowded Fire's artistic programming supports a plurality of voices, the IGNITE FUND is distributed with an awareness towards supporting a diversity of race, culture, class, gender, age and sexual orientation in our local design and technical community. The IGNITE FUND provides grants for professional development workshops and training opportunities, to purchase design tools and equipment, and to strengthen the economic sustainability of an arts practice.

In this 2022 round, Miaccuicatl Alexander was awarded funding for a projector, a laptop, and transportation funds. Miaccuicatl Alexander (they/them), artistically known as Indijeane, is a Nahua Indigenous Trans Non-Binary artist/technician specializing in sound design, film, mograph, 3D, VR, projection, & Web 3 that embraces the need to reconnect to the ancestral wisdom of gender expansive roles in Nahua indigeneity by way of Indigenous Futurism. They were born on Kumeyaay land in San Diego, California/ Tijuana, Mexico and raised on both sides of the Borderlands. Their ultimate goal in art is to honor their ancestors through visual & auditory experiences as ofrendas to uphold self autonomy, sovereignty, and to playfully dismiss colonized iterations of performativity that constrict indigenous groups to adhere to erasure. During the pandemic, their work has focused around producing theater artists transitioning from traditional venue spaces into digital contexts, creating resilience to the shifting landscape of the arts and accessibility for audiences regardless of their accessibility need.

Alexa Burrell was awarded funding to help develop her stop motion studio. Alexa Burrell was born in San Francisco, CA in 1987. A mercurial mixed-media artist, Alexa creates immersive video and sound installations that center complex Black femme experiences, environmental change and speculative documentation. Alexa weaves together field recordings, video composites, projections, animations, sculptures and archival materials to create lush fantastical and evocative narratives that compare the emotional and material, natural and technological and scientific and spiritual. Since 2016, Alexa has been a documentarian, design artist and member of House/Full of Blackwomen- a ritual performance collective directed by amara tabor-smith and Ellen Sebastian-Chang which addresses the displacement, sex-trafficking and well-being of Black women and girls. She has produced immersive projection and sound designs for Bay Area theaters such as Stanford University, Dance Mission Theater, ODC, Joe Goode Performance Group and Counterpulse. Additionally, Alexa is a musician with a solo project LEXAGON. Her music brings an afro-futurist sonic mirage of sound- weaving together enchanting vocals, clarinet, field recordings and handmade instruments. Inspired by female jazz vocalists and melancholy love songs, her performances incorporate femme ballads with ritualized moments of improvisation and intricate rhythms from unordinary objects such as stovetops and birds. Her music has been described as "ancient, sexy and haunting."

Brooke Jennings (she/her/hers) was awarded funding for a sewing machine and fabric dyeing art course. Brooke is an award winning costume designer, fiber artist, and educator living in San Francisco. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz's Theater Arts Masters Program, her collaborations with directors, playwrights, and artists birth dynamic and groundbreaking new work across the theatrical landscape, marrying classic techniques with cutting edge technology. Her work has been seen on stages across the country, including Magic Theater (asst. designer: Monument, A Lie of the Mind, Bad Jews), American Conservatory Theatre (TiJean and His Brothers (MFA Program)) San Jose Stage Company (The Great Leap), Shotgun Players (Vinegar Tom, Arcadia), San Francisco Playhouse (Barbewue, The Effect, Colossal, The Nether), We Players (Pyschopomp, Caesar Maximus, Roman Women, Ondine), Center REP (Dance Lessons), FaultLine Theater (Maggie's Riff, Dead Dog's Bone), Virago Theatre (The Singularity (New York Premier), Custom Made Theater Company (Belleville, Sam and Dede (SF and NY Premieres), and Santa Cruz Shakespeare (asst. Designer, A Year with Frog and Toad). She thanks her family and her husband, Cole, for their unwavering support and encouragement.

Kevin Lo was awarded funding for audio equipment. Kevin CK Lo (he/any) is a composer, choreographer, writer and artist living on Chochenyo Ohlone land (Oakland). In his compositions for live performance and installation, he utilizes instruments, digital sound processing and generative programming environments to examine spatial and auditory sensitivities, topological structure and audience kinesthetic response while seeking to corrupt conventional compositional/performative/installative rationale. Alongside alex cruse, he is half of interdisciplinary experimental duo DROUGHT SPA. As a technician, he was worked at CounterPulse and Joe Goode Annex since 2018, and was CounterPulse's Technical Director 2020-22, where he continues to work as a house technician. He is the Event Technician for Small Press Traffic, and has also worked in various technician and videographer roles at Southern Exposure, The Lab, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Northern California Community Land Trust, and the San Francisco International Arts Festival among others. He is currently studying toward a PhD In Music Composition, at UC Berkeley.

Sara Witsch (they/she) was awarded funding for a laptop and studio expenses.Sara Witsch is a Bay Area noise maker with a degree in Theater Arts from San Francisco State University. Sara designs sound for theater, radio plays, video games, podcasts, and film. Some recent credits include a radio play rendition of Rough Magic with A.C.T. 's Conservatory, Monument with Magic Theatre, The Claim with Shotgun Players, and Ways to Leave a Body at Cutting Ball Theater. This year, she co-produced SJ Sounds, a series of experimental sound installations located throughout San José that explored present-day issues such as housing, airport pollution, global warming and more with More Más Marami Arts through her sound collective SoundPlay Media. They are Co-Artistic Director and Production Manager at SoundPlay Media, a sound collective exploring the world of sound specific performance art and theater-focused media. Check out Sara's work at sarawitsch.com

Each year a total of up to $10,000 is granted through the IGNITE FUND with grants ranging between $1,000 and $2,000 (adjusted in 2021). Applications are reviewed by a panel composed of Crowded Fire staff members, Bay Area theater designers and/or technicians, and other leaders in the theater community. The 2021 recipients included Kenan Arun for makeup supplies, Nathaniel J. Bice for a designing and drafting computer, Chibueze Crouch for camera equipment, Mitchell Jakubka for lighting design software, Gabriel Nuñez de Arco for sound equipment, and Grisel (GG) Torres for a laptop capable of designing and streaming softwares.

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