05 Apr Meet Velvet Wells, Our New Outreach & Inclusion Manager
In late February of this year we announced that The Nursery was hiring an Outreach and Inclusion Manager. At The Nursery we very strongly believe that anyone should be able to reap the benefits of and enjoy the joy that is improv, and we have always made efforts to make that a reality. Creating space for a dedicated position was an obvious next step.
The response was overwhelming and we met with some truly amazing people who we hope to work with in some way moving forward. We are very proud to say that we were able to offer the position to Velvet Wells. And we are absolutely thrilled that he accepted! With his enormous passion for and experience in outreach and inclusion, combined with his connections in the improv world and beyond, we look forward to continuing to grow as a company and build relations that will strengthen the artform in this respect.
Velvet Wells (he/him) is not only the new Outreach and Inclusion Manager for The Nursery Theatre but also the Director of Operations for the Black Improv Alliance. He is an award-winning, world-beloved multi-faceted creator, facilitator, and community leader from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Q. Velvet, let’s go beyond the ‘official’ bio for a moment – Can you describe yourself in the form of…
- A Four-Word Alliteration: Passionate Playful Perceptive Powerhouse
- Movie Title: “Ghost Dog” – living in harmony even in chaos
- Greeting Card Message: “You Brighten My Day”
- A Cocktail / Beverage: Hot Chocolate – warm and sweet
- Your Superhero Catchphrase: “I see you”
Q. What is your relationship and history with improv as an artform? Do you remember the very first improv class/show/experience you had?
My high school theatre teacher introduced me to improv. Suddenly, I had an outlet for creativity, silliness, and adventure that I didn’t know I needed. I got a summer job at an overnight camp and taught improv to the campers. I thrived in seeing kids and other teens play theatre games.
Q. What is it like to join the Nursery? What are you most looking forward to?
I felt embraced by The Nursery Theatre management team, both in the onboarding introductions and early discussions about the direction we will take together. I am excited to bring my work as an independent thought leader into this new space, to foster the ways of thinking that benefit students and facilitators, and to let go of traditional, colonial practices that have impaired inclusion and diversity.
Q. 2020 has been quite the year and a particularly interesting one for the improv community. How has the last year panned out for you?
2020 was a year of difficult, but ultimately positive, personal change. I found my place within the global improv community, helping me stay grounded and connected as I navigated job loss and physical isolation.
Q. The conversation around diversity & inclusion in improvisation and, by extension, the arts has been at the fore over the past few years. What’s the one thing that’s not being talked about at the moment? (or alternatively, what you’d like to address about through this role at The Nursery?)
Capitalism and racism have created a stigma about asking for assistance, especially financial assistance from your community. At the end of 2020, many of us in the global community started to speak up and to be heard, about the inequity and harm caused by maintaining a singular agnostic economic model for workshop prices.
In my role at The Nursery, I’m going to work on the problem from the inside – bolstering and implementing programs to remove economic barriers for as many people as possible, so we can heal the stigmas as a community.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with those who are reading this?
Let’s elevate the improvisational arts by continuing to heal and learn from each other, to hold ourselves and each other accountable, and to deepen our connection with the communities around us.
Welcome to The Nursery, Velvet! 👋
If you have suggestions on how The Nursery can serve its community better, tips on how we can expand our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives or simply have something to share, you can get in touch with Velvet at firstname.lastname@example.org