Bring on the drama!
by Holly Tsang
Jun 16, 2010 | 18436 views | 0 0 comments | 803 803 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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When people think of film festivals, the Cannes Film Festival automatically springs to mind. Raquel Miller hopes that when people talk about performing arts festivals, NICODA will be the first name on their lips.

NICODA stands for New International Community of Drama and Arts, her performing arts organization that is in the process of becoming non-profit. Starting next summer, she plans to launch an annual NICODA festival, an event where artists will be able to showcase their talents as well as compete for prizes that will help advance their passions. She is currently in discussions with schools about providing courses and certificate programs to the winners.

“Eventually when this becomes a brand, this will be a destination festival,” said Miller. “I want to give other artists, especially aspiring artists, a venue for performing.”

Until then, however, she is working on producing a series of smaller events in conjunction with Contaminate NYC, a network of artists, art lovers and curators. These events will be more genre specific than a festival, featuring groups of poets reading poetry or string musicians performing together in concert. Often times, the events will be hosted in underserved neighborhoods.

“There is such a dearth of art in these neighborhoods,” said Miller, “that high school kids, even young adults, don’t really get a chance to experience it unless they’re outside their neighborhoods.”

As for Miller herself, growing up in the country of Jamaica, she looked forward to performing in the cultural festival Welsh Eisteddfod every year. It instilled in her a lifelong love of drama, and recently she was cast in the role of Adam in the Oxford Shakespeare Company’s production of “As You Like It” after a long stint away from theater.

“I did some real soul searching,” she said. “When you give up on who you are, what you want to be, you become really unhappy.”

Just this year, she quit her job as loss mitigation manager of a financial firm. As frightening as it was to leave her job in the midst of a recession, she felt it was finally time to move on.

“It’s scarier to me that for so long I pushed it off,” said Miller. “I saw the years going by and it was never the right time. I’d rather not be so guided by fear but be inspired by my dream.”

Now her goal is to eat, sleep, breathe and live performing arts. She plans to pursue an acting career but more importantly, to provide aspiring artists, through NICODA, with the support and opportunities she wishes she’d had herself.

“I experienced the greatest joy in performing arts,” she said. “I have completely flung myself into performing arts, wise or not, and I’m really excited.”

To participate in NICODA’s and Contaminate NYC’s upcoming summer events, submit work samples to
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