Photo by Jason Sakal Photography

Katie Beck on Nepali Applause, Cross-cultural Exchange and All Things Theatre

by Noor Hindi

photo courtesy of Katie Beck
photo courtesy of Katie Beck

Mystery. Energy. Culture.

Knight Arts Challenge winner Katie Beck used these three words to describe her project Nepali Applause, an open market performance festival that is soon to take place in the North Hill neighborhood.

The celebration will be multidisciplinary—involving dance, music, theater and art. To encourage cross-cultural exchange, translators will be at the event interpreting stories and engaging Akron’s Nepalese population.

“Since there are so many Nepalese people who live in the North Hill area, this is connecting them to Akron in an artistic and cultural way,” Beck said. “As an artist, it is generally my mission statement to bring people in a specific neighborhood together who can create something that is productive and impactful.”

To raise money for the festival, which takes place in Spring 2017, Beck is planning all kinds of exciting community events. One of her fundraising projects will take place during the Firestone Park Community Festival at the community center on June 25 from 11 am to 4 pm. At 7 pm, community members are invited to attend Into the Mold, a play directed and co-written by Beck.

Into the Mold is part of a non-profit theater organization called Gum-Dip Theatre. Beck founded Gum-Dip Theatre last year.

The show is inspired from Firestone Park’s rich history, but Beck has added a modern twist to it by adding comedic scenes. She also describes the format of the play as a Jimmy Fallon meets Johnny Carson set up.

Photo by Jason Sakal Photography
Photo by Jason Sakal Photography

“The lens is the talk show, but the theme is Firestone Park. So it’s going to be kind of crazy and wild, but the idea is that it’s for, with and about Firestone Park,” Beck said.

During the parade event, Beck will add community-based art projects along the route. She said there will be a couple of murals that people can add to, as well as chalk contests.

In an effort to match the $10,000 Beck was awarded by the Knight Foundation, the play will be pay what you can (whether it be 50 cents or $5).

So far, Beck’s biggest challenge has been working by herself to match the funds, as well as putting on the Nepali Applause festival on her own. Since receiving her theater degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, Beck has been working on reinstating herself in the art community, as well as trying to help out as much as possible.

“Coming back, I wanted to reinvest in my community but it was hard because being a high school student and growing up here is different than being an adult who is functioning as an artist,” Beck said. “It’s been difficult establishing myself in the networks that are already so beautifully established in Akron, which is a part of why I love it because there’s so many great artists and people doing wonderful things. However it is hard to be new in that environment.”

In terms of advice Beck has for future grant winners, Beck advised individuals to find a network of people who can support them. Aside from that, she said that doing lots of research about grants has also helped her. She said the sense of community and camaraderie in Akron is unlike anything she has seen before.

“There is a common theme of like ‘we’re here to help and support each other’ and I don’t think that happens in other places’,” Beck said.

Keep up with Beck by following Gum-Dip Theatre on Facebook, or visiting her website

Noor once pretended to be the soothsayer in a Julius Caesar production. She wasn’t very good, but nevertheless, you can follow her on twitter @MyNrhindi.