Creativity Spotlight: Maria Cuervo
Our Creativity Spotlight series features advice on artistic practice, inspiration, and a glimpse into the worlds of artists working in a variety of disciplines.
Colombian artist and producer Maria Cuervo, creator of Media Naranja, shares her thoughts on creativity, her artistic practice, and her journey to becoming a producer.
"Inspiration is like a bird; he flies wherever he wants. He comes and goes, and the best we can do is to let him be."
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! ¡Hola! My name is Maria Cuervo, and I am a Colombian theatre-maker and producer. I trained as an actor in Bogotá, where I was born. Since I was 5 years old, I've been involved in the art world and haven't stopped! I have performed in several theatre plays as well as contemporary dance shows, live performances, and films. Also, I have worked as a drama teacher, actor trainer, and movement director for musicians.
What kind of work do you do?
Since 2016 I started to explore the role of the producer. At that time, I was part of two companies: an immersive theatre company and a physical theatre company. And part of the process was to learn how to produce by producing! However, I wanted to have a better understanding of the job, so I started to read books, interview people, and follow the path of those who were well-known producers in Colombia.
Little by little, I started to “fall in love” with producing and one day, during a party after the last show of an immersive play I was performing in, I said to myself: I want to take this further (what a place to have such reflection, right?). So, in the middle of the party, I talked to a colleague who’s an actress and a professional in international businesses that I wanted to start a producing company. That day, we founded Media Naranja.
What is Media Naranja?
Media Naranja is an international producing company. Its mission is to support and develop artistic initiatives with communities and organisations to platform innovative ideas that generate transformative experiences. We work as fundraisers, programmers, producers, project managers, tour bookers, and agents of theatre companies from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and the UK.
Also, we have worked in community-based and participation projects with ex-members of the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a guerrilla movement which is now in a reincorporation and peace-building process, ex-gang members in Bogotá, and children & teenagers in vulnerable situations.
Last year, we made our first festival in Bogotá. It is called Festival of peace, memory and reconciliation: Bogotá is painted by the countryside's colours. Street art artists from around the country came to Bogotá. They painted 54 murals with the community from Suenalacuarta (a shanty neighbourhood in the outskirts of the city).
In 2018, I moved to London to study at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. I finished an MA in Creative Producing, and now I work between London and Bogotá.
What does your creative practice look like?
I would say that my creative practice is to make things happen. From breakfast till a Festival. I do believe that everything we do is part of our creativity. Sometimes it is artistic, and sometimes it is not. But still is something that we have created.
I do not have a way to stay inspired. Inspiration is like a bird; he flies wherever he wants. He comes and goes, and the best we can do is to let him be. When the bird-inspiration is flying far away from me, I take a book and read, listen to music or dance. Oh yes, dancing helps me a lot.
But what inspires me is people. People from my country waking up at 3 or 4 am in the morning to prepare breakfast and lunch for the whole family and then go to work. Those children that make a ball of fabric or paper and play football on the street as it were the world cup. Those who have dreams and work hard to achieve their goals and never give up.
They truly inspire me.
What advice would you give to other creatives?
I don’t think I am the right person to give advice (laughs). But I could suggest a few things to my fellow creatives out there:
Do not be afraid of making mistakes. It is the hardest but the best way to learn.
It is ok to say no.
Creation is a learning path, be patient.
You do not have to create the best piece of art. You do not have to create all the time.
If you lack inspiration, observe nature; all human creations have come from it.
Work with people you like to work with.
Take care of yourself and your love ones.
AND regardless the circumstances, believe in yourself.
PLUG TIME! What are you working on at the moment?
Virtual Variety Festival (#VVF) starts as a creative answer to keep making bold performances and building bridges between artists and audiences despite the distances between us. We are aware that performative arts are in themselves an act of presence. However, it is our creativity that pushes us to explore new forms to create and continue making what we are passionate about: art.
Noting the actual situation and following all UK governmental directions, we have ventured into making an online festival that allows us to keep our creative spirit awake and feel closer to each other.
Generally, festivals happen only once a year. However, we want to explore the possibility of doing VVF several times in the same year. Each version of the festival will be called 'season', so VVF will start its first season in April (#VVFApril). We will continue working on programming more seasons in the coming months and until the current situation allows it.
This festival is made by and for all of us! All events are free for audiences. However, we will ask viewers to make a monetary contribution on a #PayWhatYouCan basis for each performance through a link on our social media platforms and through artists themselves. The total raised per performance will be divided equally among the artists and the two organising companies.
Submissions are now open until the 12th of April and can be done in English and Spanish. The festival will start on Tuesday the 21st of April and finalise Friday the 24th of April.
If you are a dancer, theatre-maker, singer, clown, puppeteer, poet, musician, drag queen/drag king, we want to hear from you!
Open call: bit.ly/VVFEnglish
Submissions form: bit.ly/VVFAppForm
You can find out more about Maria and Media Naranja via the links below: