2021: A Moment for Rejuvenation and Gratitude

To our community – we hope you, your families, and loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these truly incredible times. This week in particular has touched us all as we navigate unprecedented victories and attacks on our nation’s democracy. All of us – as Unit Souzou and each of us personally – have both been working tirelessly and taking care in this time of COVID-19, racial justice uprisings, and political intensity.

Throughout 2020, we pivoted and flowed. We found ourselves immersed in generative response, presenting virtual performances Otherness: Togetherness, with our fellow artists Joe Kye and Horatio Law, and a program with our partners at DancePlace. In the summer, we organized the taiko community in an anti-racism virtual practice, Reimagining a New World, and we created new video works of Sayonara Mata Ashita and Ancestral Calling from our ‘postponed’ project, Constant State of Otherness.

As 2021 emerges, we begin with breath and gratitude, and are thankful that we have been able to maintain our work at a time when performance artists and venues are suffering greatly due to the pandemic. In addition to relief funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust and a Small Business Administration PPP loan, which has helped Unit Souzou to survive these past months, the end of 2020 brought bounty as we move into a new year. Unit Souzou received grants from the PDX-CARES Funding through the Portland Parks & Recreation’s BIPOC Artist Led Performance grant and RACC’s Capturing the Moment grant. We also received funding from Multnomah County Cultural Commission and National Performance Network to evolve Constant of Otherness into a video diary project. And Michelle was awarded an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship which recognizes “outstanding talent, demonstrated ability and commitment to the creation of new work” as well as a fellowship with the Jubilation Foundation.

We are truly grateful to you, our community for your support and solidarity this past year, and look forward to staying in touch with you as we take on 2021.