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Crowded Fire Names 2021 Ignite Fund Recipients

This year’s recipients are Kenan Arun, Nathaniel J. Bice, Chibueze Crouch, Mitchell Jakubka, Gabriel Nuñez de Arco, and Grisel (GG) Torres.

SAN FRANCISCO: Crowded Fire Theater (CFT) has announced Kenan Arun, Nathaniel J. Bice, Chibueze Crouch, Mitchell Jakubka, Gabriel Nuñez de Arco, and Grisel (GG) Torres as its 2021 Ignite Fund recipients, making them the fifth cohort of awardees. The Ignite Fund awards a total of $10,000 annually to support the growth of Bay Area theatre designers, technicians, and stage managers, as well as the enhancement of their working lives.

“After a pause in 2020, we are excited to continue to support designers, technicians, and stage managers through the Ignite Fund, and we are grateful to the anonymous angel donor who supports the Ignite Fund annually,” said production manager Stephanie Alyson in a statement. “It is so important to prioritize all the creatives that bring art to fruition. Last year due to the pandemic, we saw so many artists out of work and struggling to survive in the Bay Area. With this in mind, we adjusted the grant parameters in order to reach as many individuals as possible. 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.”

The Ignite Fund, awarded through a competitive grant process, 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. Applications are reviewed by a panel of Crowded Fire staff members, Bay Area theatre designers and/or technicians, and other leaders in the theatre community.

Kenan Arun (he/him) was awarded funding for makeup materials. Arun has been a makeup artist for the stage for over 10 years, and is a resident makeup designer for Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco. Some of his credits include work with Stage on the Run (Heidelberg, Germany and Ankara, Turkey), Turkish-American Association (Ankara, Turkey), Rob Cantor (Los Angeles), and African-American Shakespeare Company (San Francisco). Arun also serves as wig and makeup consultant at Drunk Drag Broadway.

Nathaniel J. Bice (he/they) was awarded funding for a computer capable of running designing and drafting software. Bice is a scenic designer, fine artist, and craftsperson based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has worked all around the Bay as a props artisan, scenic painter, and as an assistant to award winning set designer Nina Ball. He is originally from Albuquerque, N.M., and moved to Seattle in 2014, where he graduated from Cornish College of the Arts Summa Cum Laude.

Chibueze Crouch (she/her) was awarded funding for camera equipment for the video design aspect of an upcoming experimental performance project. Crouch is a Nigerian American interdisciplinary artist and curator working across ritual theatre, text, song, movement, and video. She is based on Huichin, Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone territory (Oakland, Calif.). She creates participatory, intimate performances in collaboration with her chi and community, exploring themes of ancestral longing, Igbo cosmology, Afro Diasporic masquerade, and queer identity. Crouch has been an artist-in-residence at CounterPulse, Paul Dresher Ensemble, and the SF Heritage Foundation, and she is the 2019-20 RHE Foundation Artistic Fellowship awardee from Theatre Bay Area.

Mitchell Jakubka (he/him) was awarded funding for lighting design software. A Bay Area native, Jakubka is elated to return to San Francisco after completing his MFA in lighting design at Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently serving as one of the assistant lighting designers at the San Francisco Opera. Favorite design collaborations include Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Moss Variations #3, Lauren D’Errico’s Three Knockdown Rule, and the Blunite memorial events in Santa Barbara. Jakubka is also a theatre historian, writing on the queer/BIPOC history of lighting design.

Gabriel Nuñez de Arco (they/them/esp: elle) was awarded funding for sound equipment. Gabriel is a visual artist, composer, sound engineer, lighting designer and DJ from Oakland (Chochenyo Ohlone land), with roots in La Paz, Bolivia (Aymara territory). They have performed and provided technical support at events across Australia, Bolivia and the United States with a focus on queer DIY spaces. Their creative work explores questions of belonging as a queer diasporic person and seeks reclamatory formations of history as generative space for decolonized futures.

Grisel (GG) Torres (she/they) was awarded funding for a laptop capable of multiple design and streaming software. Torres is from the Bay Area by way of migrant parents from Guanajuato, México. She studied technical theatre, light design, and props design at San Francisco State University. She also loves to paint and create movement-based performance art, and sees the two art forms as a vantage point for learning about self-healing. Torres is a resident artist for Golden Thread Productions, and is also the venue manager for the Joe Goode Annex in the Mission. She often designs lights for PUSH Dance Company and Queer Punk performance artist Keith Hennessy. She is extremely grateful to have a hand in making some of the Bay Area’s best radical art.

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