AYE DEFY

Hello! My name is Mirirai Sithole  and over the course of ten plus years in the Performing Arts Industry - where I have failed  and made mistakes as often as I have triumphed and been rewarded - I am betting on myself and my community to build a healthier, more accountable, and joyful way forward for making and sustaining a life in the arts. I was comfortable being seen as a working actor - with a few day jobs scattered in between - and it has taken me some time to find a clear, albeit uncomfortable, outlet for my other theatre-making skills. As the Founder / Chief Creative Director of AYE DEFY , I am continually humbled and excited by this journey called art-making during a revolutionary, paradigm-shifting, grief and awe stricken time in history. Or as I like to say: THEIRstory.

Questions I have been pondering while building this company: How does a lack of intentionality coupled with systemic barriers to affordability and accessibility effect how many confront their own relationship to the theater? And how do we bring people together through storytelling if we can't communicate our wants and needs during the process in a healthy way?

I choose the performing arts field because it feels like home. And I choose to continue using curiosity to find options and solutions for maintaining dignity through artful innovation within the perfectly imperfect arts industry. In choosing this path, AYE DEFY's current iteration is that of a company built on the hearts and backs of arts professionals and their supporters from all walks of life. AYE DEFY will provide tools and insight from years of research, internships, retreats, conferences etc. to the artists we work with so that they are able to simultaneously maintain their mental health and well-being while creating impactful work with diverse artists for intersectional communities. 

With the help of an ever-growing team of patient, intellectually stimulating, activists and artists, I am using my multi-hyphenate theatre skills as an Actor, Director, Producer and Dramaturg - and a Human Resources minor - to #createspace for artists to shine and be at ease at each stage of their artistic process. AYE DEFY is a consulting and marketing organization that honors the artistic journey from beginning to "end".

We are building and creating programs that will shift the emotional, educational, and communal culture of the entertainment industry and we would love your support! For those of you that have already supported, we are grateful to you for your belief in us as we continue to deepen and clarify the purpose, mission, and goals of this company. The expectation when faced with loss (our industry shutting down) or a failure of some kind (getting fired from a production perhaps) is to crumble and shrink in shame. Yet in this beautifully bountiful life I’ve been gifted, I choose to learn the lesson(s), feel the growing pains, and offer solutions for how to show up better next time.

AYE: Yes DEFY: Expectations

AYE DEFY partners with individuals and institutions to empower multi-hyphenate artists with tools to tell their stories [Authentically] for maximum [Visibility] within their desired demographic in a way that aligns with the overall [Purpose] and mission of their art.

So why do we need your donations? Well for starters... AYE DEFY has a big mission ! Below are some of the programs on the docket:

Intentional & Intersectional Marketing: Inspired by Marcia Pendleton of Walk Tall Girl Productions , Drew Shade of Broadway Black , Chi-Chi Anyanwu of the Black Theatre Network and countless others, we aim to build relationships with the Literary Managers, Resident Dramaturgs, and Marketing Directors of major Off-Broadway Institutions to create marketing plans (in addition to discount codes) in advance of season announcements that not only center the underlying themes and ideals of the plays they are producing, but also center the mission and intention of the Playwright. We will reach out to demographics that lie beyond their traditionally targeted audiences, affinity groups, and network of industry contacts. We will also provide this service for individual theatre-makers, collectives, and theatre companies.

Community Building: In collaboration with our Audience Engagement Curator, AYE DEFY will coordinate theatrical experiences for groups wishing to fellowship before and/or after shows to discuss and unpack in the form of talkbacks, Happy Hours, backstage tours etc. With our network of 1000+ Black, Queer, Latinx, Asian-American, MENA supporters, we will build on programs like Just Inked at Signature Theatre or LincTix Young Patrons nights at Lincoln Center, to make viewing theatre a communal experience that doesn’t just end once the show is over.

Artistic Advocacy: There are many stories of artists being a part of wonderfully acclaimed productions and when you get "insider information", said productions are the exact opposite of what anyone would deem a safe or healthy process. I realized almost too late that although I had steady work over the years, no one felt comfortable communicating the ways in which I was not serving the process productively. Without proper mediation - or even a simple exit interview - from someone not directly involved in these shows, there is usually no unbiased party to discuss abuses and/or discrimination despite the EDI and sexual harassment paperwork that is mildly discussed at the beginning of a contract. We will create a training program using the tools of Positive Psychology taught at The Flourishing Center , community agreements, and EDI language to train EMC and AEA members to be deputies of shows as a means of income while not on contract if they choose not to go on unemployment.

Last but not least,
 
Talk the Walk: A digital series that highlights how artists maintain a vibrant artistic life by stepping outside of the proverbial box and pursuing their multi-hyphenate dreams! #PursueYourHyphens

Your Donations will directly support paying for: Graphic Designer ($700), Co-Working Space at The Artist's Co-op ($300), Subsidizing the cost of the Certificate Program at The Flourishing Center (~$6,000), Website Maintenance, Stipends for assistants and creatives making the Digital Series and more!

Thank you for listening, thank you for helping shift the culture, and thank you for your support!
  • Haven of Kujeka Womxn 
    • $10,080 (Offline)
    • 6 mos
  • Rochelle Torres 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • James Weippert 
    • $20 
    • 7 mos
  • Juliann Butz 
    • $55 
    • 7 mos
  • Nicole Rousseau  
    • $50 
    • 17 mos
See all

Organizer

Mirirai Sithole 
Organizer
Brooklyn, NY