The 2021 Fertile Ground Festival, a program of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (PATA), will be a free virtual festival running January 28 – February 7, 2021. In order to serve a wider range of artists and audiences in our community, significant actions are underway to create an equity-infused process that prioritizes inclusivity for the 12th annual new works festival. To accomplish these ambitious shifts, departures from previous years, both the festival framework and decision-making structures have been revised.
Fertile Ground’s virtual festival will present pre-recorded “acts of creation,” submitted by producing organizations and artist-producers. Recorded “premieres” will be live-dropped at scheduled intervals over the course of the 11-day festival, and streamed on Fertile Ground’s Facebook and YouTube channels. The “show time” slot for each premiere will be randomly assigned.
Moving the festival to a virtual platform will result in a limited number of available festival slots, and therefore Fertile Ground 2021 will be a curated festival. While festival curation is a departure from one of the key founding tenets of Fertile Ground, this shift offers an opportunity for the festival to evolve and to ensure representation of underserved communities, and actively engage in pro-inclusivity and power-sharing practices.
Fertile Ground organizers are intent on fostering a festival that is more inclusive of and conducive to the participation of underrepresented communities. Demonstrating Fertile Ground’s commitment to broadening representative inclusion of local artists, a panel has been instituted that is composed of individuals whose identities encompass a spectrum of underrepresented voices, along with Fertile Ground and PATA representatives.
Fertile Ground’s curatorial decision-making body, the GROW PANEL, curated Fertile Ground 2021 with attention to the inclusion of underrepresented communities,* artistically interesting and culturally relevant “acts of creation,” and projects with an innovative concept for a recorded piece intended for a digital media platform.
*BIPOC, LGBTQ2IA+, Disabled