Announcing the 2023 Black Immersive Creators Grant Winner

The winner for the 2023 Black Immersive Creators Grant is The Immersive Pole Show by Arwa Michelle Mboya.

Black woman in a black dress leaning against an old building with wood siding with gray paint flaking off.

About the Piece

The Immersive Pole Show

The Future is AfroFeminine, and other notes in resistance.

An immersive Pole Show set in a dystopian future where The War on the Black Female body has been won. With an AfroFuturist Feminist Approach, this showcase features 7 pioneering black Pole Artists and leverages projection mapping and generative art to transport the audience into a future where the black body is celebrated, respected and normalized. Black women have been resisting stereotypes (Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire), appropriation and policing of their bodies for centuries. Pole dancing has become one such form of that resistance because of its blend of strength & sensuality. The show reimagines expression and freedom of black femininity.

About the Creator

Arwa Michelle Mboya (she/her) is an LA based Designer & Creative Director from Nairobi, Kenya. Her work in immersive and experiential entertainment has spanned companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Magic Leap & Madison Square Garden Sphere. Arwa is passionate about crafting narratives & designing experiences that center the stories of black women. She is a pioneer in design at the intersection of Black Hair and technology, and is the co-founder of Black Hair Lab – a data & design platform for black hair. She also published the book Wash Day which is a computer-generated text based on transcripts of wash day YouTube videos from the black hair community. In her freetime, she expresses herself through movement as an avid Pole Dancer. Arwa has an M.S. in Design Engineering from the MIT Media Lab and a B.A. from Yale University.

About the Decision

Full Disclosure: David and I are members of the Board for the Black Immersive Creators Grant. It’s important to us that the immersive entertainment industry (including escape rooms) is welcoming to creators of all kinds, and that together we strive for more representation.

As a board members, we reviewed so many incredible applications! I was in awe of the scope of what immersive entertainment can be. The proposals presented pieces that were moving, thought provoking, emotional, and even humorous. Some of them made me uncomfortable. Some of them used technology I couldn’t grasp. I learned about different genres of immersive entertainment and about different culture. It was not easy to choose a winner, but this project is truly deserving. We are excited for it to exist!

About the Project

If you are interested in supporting this project, you can donate now in advance of the 2024 grant cycle.

If you are a black immersive creator interested in applying in 2024, you can learn more here.

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