Despite the still-unexplained loss of its annual Heritage Canada funding, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s 35th annual Rhubarb Festival is going forward full-force. Festival director Laura Nanni has just released her programming, and Xtra chatted with her about what’s in the works and what changes the financial setbacks have meant.
What were you looking for when selecting work for this year’s festival?
I wanted to bring together works that unearth and remix elements of our past with projects that question our current conditions and radically envision possibilities for the future. The festival provides a crucial testing ground for new ideas and experiments, and I looked for artists who consider Rhubarb a laboratory, not only a platform to showcase work.
How will the loss of the Heritage grant affect the artists?
Scaling back programming meant we’re unable to invite as many artists, which is particularly unfortunate since we received a record number of submissions. The decision to scale back was made in part to ensure we’re still able to commit the same resources to festival artists in the way of honorariums, materials and staff support, as we have in previous years.
Any works you’re particularly excited about?
Special to this year's festival is the Open Space Project series, artists responding to the concepts of history in local queer spaces (Buddies, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Glad Day Bookshop, Pink Triangle Press and The 519. Another special event is 35 Performances for 35 Years. Rhubarb artists from over the years, including Sky Gilbert, Cynthia Grant, Keith Cole, Daniel Brooks, Jordan Tannahill, Birdtown and Swanville, and Ill Nana Diverse City Dance Company, will be featured.