The Kaleidoscapes are proud to share a story of slow, steady growth this year. Unlike many theatre companies with physical space to maintain, who rely on ticket sales for live, indoor performances, we are uniquely positioned to weather this pandemic. Since our conception, our performances have been designed to take place outdoors, and our administrative operations have always taken place remotely from multiple time zones. Learn more about what we accomplished with this short year-in-review!
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Kaleidoscapes took all of our programming digital, starting with our company’s official, virtual launch party over Zoom.
Our next initiative was the distribution of a COVID-19 Artist Relief Stipend. We received 55 applications from eco-theatre artists across the country and provided one $400 stipend and one $200 stipend to extraordinary artists who align with our mission and values. Learn more here.
This summer, we launched Story Guides — an entirely virtual youth mentorship program. This pilot program paired 13 STEAM-lovers (science, tech, engineering, arts, and math), ages 7-13, with adult artist-activists over the course of one month to develop online learning and storytelling skills. The engaging, interactive curriculum was highly adaptable to match each mentee’s interests while exploring their local ecology. Parents or guardians were also supplied with resources in English and Spanish to engage mentees through discussions and activities. The virtual circumstances of the pandemic allowed us to have an international reach with pairings taking place between participants in diverse local landscapes. Story Guides is being developed for future partnerships with specific communities as well as for the classroom.
Here are some testimonials from Story Guides parents and participants who recommend this program.
The Kaleidoscapes have held online workshops & creative spaces, including our participation in an election night vigil and a partnership with Evergreen Theatre Collective for a workshop in November.
Over the summer, we also produced TRACE, a 9-minute piece of recorded eco-theatre, which was filmed safely by 9 artists adhering to social distancing guidelines. We’ve shared TRACE with an online Premiere, pay-what-you-can screenings throughout October, and it was also screened in Same Boat Theater Collective’s Earthquake Festival on October 25th, where it was live streamed in San Francisco, London, and New Delhi.
You can get a look backstage here.
This year, we’ve deepened our community — whether through book club climate discussions with people on both coasts and across the ocean or our Artistic Staff’s weekly Monday Meeting on Google Meet, this has been a rich season of laying groundwork. Individual donations to date have covered all of our operating expenses, so all of our fundraising efforts can go directly towards upcoming programming.
Coming soon: The Kaleidoscapes will hold a panel discussion with fellow eco-theatres! We’ll consider the question— What does the world need right now that only eco-theatre can give? We have also begun the planning stages for our next production.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your interest in and support for The Kaleidoscapes! We’ve stretched and grown this year. Gail learned how to use QuickBooks and run payroll, Claire fought and won the battle against MailChimp, Emilie organized responses from countless surveys and interviews, and Paola thrived in one of her very favorite activities—email correspondence.
What’s missed the mark for you? We care to hear your critical feedback, and you can send that either with this google form or by sending a personal email to any member of our staff.
No small business could have anticipated the landscape we’d be navigating this year. The pandemic has laid bare many of our world’s inequalities and rifts. It has also shown us how necessary the work of The Kaleidoscapes really is--stories about our planet’s resilience, told by artists who are vital to implement creative climate solutions.
Graphic Design by Cody Gindy
We hope you will keep us in mind this fundraising season. With Giving Tuesday, as well as end-of-year fundraising, your contributions will help us continue accessible programing in the New Year. We would also love to discuss partnerships with you!
Last week, if your experience was similar to ours, it may have felt like we were in boiling water. The bubbles were boiling over in anxiety, in disrupted sleep patterns, and in exploding inboxes. We also acknowledge that we did not all experience the events of this election cycle the same. Those with most at stake in the election, namely Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color, as well as the queer community, are the very people who secured the inevitable outcome with grassroots organizing and unprecedented voter turnout in the face of violent efforts to suppress BIPOC voices.
In the past week, we elected a record-breaking 6 Native American and Native Hawaiians to Congress. We also elected a Black, Indian American woman as our Vice President. There were even more records set by LGBTQ candidates who ran, and won, for their local offices.
However you are feeling today is your right. You might feel relief, determination, and for the first time in a long time, hope. You might feel tired and disempowered. The Kaleidoscapes want to meet you where you are today, right now, to say we’re glad you’re in our community. We are proud that our organization’s network is filled with people like you – people that believe in a world of climate resilience, in racial justice, and in regeneration.
Tomorrow, or when you are able, we hope you will join us as we re-ignite the energy with which we approached this election. We will continue to fight for federal-level climate policies, holding our lawmakers accountable to prioritizing frontline communities. Our country and our world are in hot water—literally. But examining history shows us that public opinion and collective imaginations can fuel movements.
Thank you for your commitment to storytelling and climate solutions. The Kaleidoscapes know that this is a time to act—to produce, create and dialogue with collaborators. We’re grateful for your support and your interest in the stories we will continue to dramatize.
All of the inequality, the pandemic, police brutality and pain will not disappear overnight. But neither will we. And for an arts organization in 2020, we think that’s a story worth sharing.
Gail Tierney, Artistic Director & Claire Allegra Taylor, Managing Director
When the Climate Crisis Gets Personal
Plenty of natural disasters (perhaps we should start calling them unnatural disasters) have already hit during 2020, including the Australian Bushfire, Coronavirus, Locust Swarms in East Africa and South Asia, mass flooding, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Most recently, the United States saw Tropical Storm Laura on the East Coast, the Midwest Derecho, and the ongoing California Wildfire season.
My childhood home, and parents’ residence, sits 25 miles away from the current outer perimeter of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires devastating Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. The fire began August 17th, and has burned 78,000 acres, with only 19% contained. This is just one of the 560 fires currently burning across the state.
Many Californians, local and ex-pat, are experiencing heartbreak. As the media shines the spotlight on these fires (that happen every year), we throw up our hands and cry, “How could this happen? Oh it’s so sad.” And yes it is. It is devastating beyond belief. But what I find more devastating is that the public continually fails to draw a link to climate change and colonization of the West. Some resources in this newsletter will help explain why separation of indigenous people from their land and land customs aids in the devastation.
If you look at Google Maps, my town sits right at the border between “white” and “green,” the green color demarcating hundreds of thousands of acres of State Parks, Open Space Preserves, conservation areas, and wildlife reserves that now sit on Ohlone, Awaswas, and Ramaytush land. From there, the map remains different shades of green until the coast. This ecological area is home to some of the oldest and most majestic trees in the world: the Giant Redwood Trees. It is hard to describe the beauty, majesty, and sacredness of these trees without taking you on a hike.
I am privileged to have spent weekends and summers exploring this area right in my backyard. I would take trips to the beach in Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, which is now ravaged by flames. I spent camping trips in the Portola Redwoods State Park and Big Basin State Park, which has been decimated, perhaps irrevocably. My parents met in Santa Cruz, and have lived overshadowed by the presence of these mountains for over forty-five years – and now our home is in danger of being destroyed too. And even saying that is hard, knowing that there are far more who have been required to evacuate all across the state, and even lost their homes or businesses due to the fire’s path. It’s also important to note that the loss of the natural landscape I know and love cannot compare to the forced removal of Indigenous peoples from their land, and the legal discrimination against the right to care for their homelands today.
Instead of thoughtful mourning, or direct response, or even unfiltered outrage, the most common response I encounter to these disasters is apathy. The amount of articles that get shared with the captions like, “2020 strikes again” or “another one for apocalypse bingo.” As if this is all just happening to us. That we are not culpable. That we are poor pawns in a cosmic chess game. That we’re just living in some apocalyptic year in a cursed decade, instead of active participants in our own downfall.
Fires like this happen every year. Even as a self-proclaimed eco-nerd, I recognize that in years prior, I succumbed to the habitual response to scan facebook, call my family members to make sure they’re out of the zone, maybe donate what I can, and watch some news footage. I feel sad for a few days, I remember the smell of wildfire smoke in the air, and I go on because it’s not actively happening… to me.
But now, it’s personal. I no longer have the luxury of pretending it’s happening to someone else, and that is sobering. How many people must lose their homes? How many people in frontline communities, especially those in communities of color, must live with diseases made more prevalent by climate change? How many people will suffer health problems due to unclean water? At what point will a symptom of the ecological crisis personally affect everyone on this planet in a drastic and deeply personal way? And, at what point will we learn to be preemptively un-apathetic? The truth is, time is running out and we need to turn up the caring dial – right now – because we still have a chance to aid the Earth’s healing.
- Claire Allegra Taylor, Managing Director
Letters from the Directors
As COVID-19 wears on, it is becoming ever-more-apparent that people around our globe are affected differently. Some refuse to acknowledge that the pandemic exists. Others refuse to wear a mask in public. And still others are creating and caretaking and grocery shopping for vulnerable friends.
To a certain extent, people all over our planet are evaluating their core values and what drives them in the world. Movements such as Black Lives Matter are gathering much-needed support and vitality. There have also been increased reports of abuse, suicide and disrupted services, especially for those in higher-risk categories such as people with disabilities. These dynamics do not negate one another. They complexify the story.
So many of our news outlets and content on social media platforms are simplified for quick, consumable info bites. We do things differently at The Kaleidoscapes. Here, we are most interested in that complexity.
We are also convicted by the idea that the arts and sciences go together like PB&J on a summer afternoon. Science gives us insight into the undercurrents of life on Earth. And good art makes us grapple with those subtleties. Art is the arena for meaning-making in life.
We’ve watched climate-deniers complexifying the work of activists for years, and we’ve seen many people lose stamina and face burn-out. But this is not the time to isolate or grow overwhelmed! An article headline from 2017 recently went viral, saying “I Don’t Know How to Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People (HuffPost, Kayla Chadwick, Contributor).” These days, the sentiment can feel extremely relevant. Our society has misconstrued care for our surroundings as partisan.
Now is the time to reach deep into our pockets and energy reserves to sustain the things we care about. Now is the time to consider: What narratives do you want to remember from this moment in history, and how were you involved?
We know it’s a complex story, and access plays a key role, but we hope you may gain some endurance and repose from the environment where you live—whether through birdsong, a trusted trail or getting caught in a summer thunderstorm. Please, continue to wear your mask. And we’ll continue to produce work that attempts to hold the complexity of human experience at its core.
Gail Tierney, Artistic Director