REAson d'etre dance productions

Registered Name: Reason d'être Dance Productions

Business Number: 842034654RR0001

The Creation of Vivian Chong's "TENS" Graphic Memoir in collaboration with Georgia Webber

Campaign Ends Sept. 2, 2019

Project Description

TENS is a graphic memoir telling the life-story of Vivian Chong, who suffered a rare reaction to over the counter pain medication, which caused severe burns both externally and internally. Near death, she was in a coma for two months. When she was revived, she could not see or hear. Groundbreaking surgery restored her hearing but cornea surgery gave her only a month of slightly improved sight during which she was driven to complete a graphic memoir. With her head an inch from the paper she drew and drew. Vivian completed 100 pages before sight loss prevented her from drawing further. She tucked her graphic memoir away on a shelf, leaving it for twelve years. Vivian went forwards with her life, adapting to her loss of sight. She cross-country skis, creates ceramic art, competes in triathlons, travels, makes music, performs standup comedy and has learned three different dance forms by feeling the steps through touch.

After much searching, Kathleen and Vivian found Georgia Webber, a comics artist, known for her critically acclaimed graphic memoir, Dumb: Living without a Voice. Georgia expressed her own health experiences related to chronic voice pain through drawing. This gives her unique insight into Vivian’s drive to complete her novel. Georgia's drawings have their own style, but there are similarities to Vivian’s work that will offer cohesiveness as well as creative opportunities; such as showing how the switch between artists represents the moment of Vivian's vision loss and the start of her new way of being in the world. 

Kathleen and Vivian will launch their dance-theatre show, Dancing with the Universe, in April 2020. The legendary Fantagraphics Books has agreed to publish TENS in tandem with the show launch, which means our deadline is coming up quick! In order for the artists to maintain a basic living wage while working on the project, funds need to be raised for the project to be a go ahead. We are looking to raise $25,800.00 to support everyone through the creation of this book.



Vivian Chong - memoir writter and graphic memoir visual artist:

     Five months of part-time work ($900 a month) = $4,500.00

     Licensing of 100 original graphic memoir images = $7,000.00

Georgia Webber - comics artist:

     Five months of full-time work ($2300 a month)= $11,500.00

Art Materials: $500.00

Kathleen Rea - Expressive Arts Access consultant     

Five months of part-time work ($400 a month) = $2000

Cost of promotion: $1000

Total: $26,500.00

Please note, we are fundraising a portion of this $25,800.00 through an INDIEGOGO campaign. All amounts raised through INDIEGOGO minus the cost of supplying our INDIEGOGO perks (pamphlet, TENS book, tickets, original art) are listed in our CANADA HELPS campaign counter.

Why run both an INDIEGOGO campaign and a CANADA HELPS campaign and list the net totals for both on the CANADA HELPS campaign counter? We are doing this to benefit from the attributes of both platforms and to have a place where we keep track of our overall goal.

INDIEGOGO campaigns offer people the chance to buy in advance and pay extra for the product to help ensure the product gets made. INDIEGOGO is a more image-rich platform. INDIEGOGO also appeals to a different demographic. The INDIEGOGO campaign is short, only lasting a month. INDIEGOGO is a US company and takes 7.9% of funds as payment for the use of their platform.

The CANADA HELPS campaign offers people tax receipts. It is a straight donation with no perks or products. The CANADA HELPS campaign is going to last several months (up until Sept 1, 2019). The CANADA HELPS campaign allows us to add INDIEGOGO campaign totals to its counter of money raised and this helps us keep track of our overall goal. CANADA HELPS is a Canadian service and takes 4% funds as payment for the use of their platform.

What if you raise less than needed? If we raise less than $25,800.00, we will need to regroup and figure out what to do. Cancelation of the project for any reason would involve a refund of all INDIEGOGO perks (value of perks) and refund of all monies raised, minus hourly artist's wages already completed and paid.

Who is REAson d’etre dance productions (RDDP) and do they get any of the money? REAson d’etre dance productions is a charitable dance company that is creating a dance theatre production with Vivian about her life called “Dancing with the Universe”. REAson d’etre dance productions wants to create an immersive experience in which the audience has access to Vivian’s story through multiple art forms...  the audience goes to see the dance production and then goes home with the book. REAson d’etre dance productions will be using images from the TENS graphic memoir in the production. REAson d’etre dance productions is raising funds for the TENS graphic memoir project because the book is part of its vision for the “Dancing with the Universe” production. REAson d’etre dance productions is overseeing all the payouts to artists for their work on the book through the money raised.

Why the rush? Vivian and Georgia need to deliver the product by October 1, 2019 in order for the book launch to occur at the same time as the April 2020 "Dancing with The Universe" premiere. What can we say?... it took twelve years to find the perfect comics artist to help Vivian finish her graphic memoir and to find a publisher and the timing worked out so that now we have only five months to finish the book!

What is your writing process like? How do you ensure that Vivian understands the visual aspects of the story? Vivian tells her story through emails, phone calls, voice memos and visits, and then Georgia creates a plan for the comic. Since Georgia’s process is visual, the outline she creates for Vivian is a typed Word document that includes image descriptions of every panel, every page. Vivian uses text-to-speech software to listen to the description and then gives Georgia her feedback. Kathleen receives rough draft pages of the graphic memoir and gives Vivian a detailed audio description of drawings. Together they put together written feedback for Georgia about any changes revision needed. Vivian also talks with Georgia so feedback is also provided orally. Georgia revises the pages, and the process repeats. This is how we create equity for visual choices.

Will the book be accessible for people with vision impairment? 

Vivian states: 

I have been asked by some if I am planning to make a braille edition. I am not a braille reader. People often make the assumption I know brail or that I should learn Brail. But learning Brail is just one way to create access. Access technology has developed to a point that many people decided not to learn braille as was my choice. For access some choose brail and some choose other access means and all are good choices if they feel right for the person. I feel strongly that artists with disabilities should be free to pick the art medium and access methods that attract them and there should not be “shoulds” placed upon them.  As such I do not feel a strong draw to create a brail version. I have always loved the genre of the graphic novel. I will not be able to see the book with my eyes, but I still feel drawn to create TENS for the sighted world through the lens of my “heart” and storytelling ability. The book we are creating right now is for the sighted world so they can better understand my story and life experience. 

After the version is created for those that are sighted the team, taking direction from Vivian will revisit this question of opening up accessibility to those who are blind. We will be discussing raised relief version and/or version with rich audio description of images.

Are there royalties after the book is published? Publisher Fantagraphics Books has offered to publish the book and future royalties on sales will be split between Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber. Vivian retains the rights to tell her life story through other books and other art mediums.

Why do you need $25,800.00 raised now if there will be royalties in the future? As usual with this type of book, there is a small advance that does not cover basic living expenses for the artists over the five-month creative period. We are raising funds to sustain the creative period of the book.

Why is Vivian getting a licensing fee for the 100 original illustrations she already created? The project desires to create pay equity between the two artists. Georgia will receive pay for her illustration work on the book over the next five months and to create pay equity, we want to "go back in time" and make sure that Vivian is compensated for the exceptional illustrations and story she has already put to paper.

What type of reach will the TENS graphic memoir have? Publisher Fantagraphics Books has a great publicity and marketing team, and worldwide distribution. They are enthusiastic about the project! REAson d'etre dance productions will, as well, publicize the book as part of its "Dancing with the Universe" productions. Currently, graphic novels and memoirs are a big thing! Check out the size of the recent Toronto Comics Arts Festival as a measure of how popular this genre is. Georgia's first book Dumb: Living without a Voice was met with critical success and will draw attention towards TENS. Finally, Vivian is an exceptional musician, potter, dancer, sculptor and standup comedian who is well known in the community and can draw attention toward the book. We feel confident that we can turn your donation into a book that will be well read.

We think transparency is important. So if you have any further questions not answered here, we are happy to answer them. Just message or email us

$21,505 raised out of $26,500 goal

81.1509433962% Complete
1 week to go