By Arts Editor Cheryl Folland
For the past two years, 15 Minutes of Infamy (15 Minutes), has provided local artists an intimate venue to share their work. 15 Minutes specializes in spoken word and song, including poetry, storytelling, and interactive word-based performance art. Sitting down with Carla Stein to chat about their history and upcoming show proved spoken word is making a comeback.
How did 15 Minutes get started?
Carla: Ian Cognito, founding member and co-producer [of 15 Minutes], started with the vision of giving people more room to move and work than a traditional open mic scenario. We started two years ago in Ladysmith, but it wasn’t drawing large numbers. The contract ended there in July 2016 and 15 Minutes made the move to The Nanaimo Bar October 2016, and we’ve been there since.
According to Facebook, 15 Minutes is not open mic; how is it different?
C: All shows are curated. It’s more of a cabaret style event. Six or eight people with different talents from different genres perform based on submissions sent to us. We always start at 7 pm. A host or co-hosts introduce the performers for the evening and performances are broken down into two sets with a break in the middle.
How is the structure important?
C: The break in the middle provides much needed networking between local and visiting artists. We’ve had artists from all over the Island and some visit from Vancouver. The interlude is an essential place for people to connect with other artists, publishers, booking agents, promoters, and listen to critical responses to their work.
How would you characterize the audience?
C: Over the last three shows, we have been nearly full. Our audience is there because they want to support [the literary community] and are members themselves. They are quite welcoming and respectful.
What’s new for 15 Minutes?
C: Short term, we have an upcoming show, March 15, at The Nanaimo Bar from 7 to 10 pm, featuring Kevin Parker, Pat Smekal, Ian Cognito, Bobbit Schram, and Judy Millar.
There’s a $5 cover charge.
Long term, we have been invited under the umbrella of Wordstorm. They see the vision of being involved in shaping the contemporary scene and are already an incorporated society. This allows us to offer a small honorarium to performers and hosts as well as opening us up to other funding and resources for future development.
To learn more about 15 Minutes of Infamy, or how to apply, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/pg/15MinutesofInfamy.