I used a payday loan for fringe. fuck.



I’ve never taken work to fringe so I know shit all about shit all of the fringe experience. This will be my first time and like sex, I hope its gentle and considerate and not too fucking fast. But LOL that's not going to happen is it? What is happening is good ol’ sexy crippling capitalism.

I’ve been seeing some really transparent n helpful threads and blogs from seasoned artists on the failures of the fringe recently. Their transparency on debt,  labour, audiences and toxicity around fringe has been helpful for me. But im sad and scared, scared because most (not all) are established artists that have (earned) a lot of clout; press attention, awards, multiple national venue support, bursaries AND within a company framework which allows for labour to be distributed,  All this and still these artists are S-T-ruggling in this context. 

I feel sick. for them and then for me because I’m not them!!

I’m relatively unknown and I've been sending press interest emails from Becky my made up PR person at info@deminandhra.com

I haven’t but you know what I mean, my resources and spotlight is low.

So what can i do to make me feel better? absolutely nothing but i can be transparent like my peers and publicise my experience. it may add a little wave to the other waves trying to shift the current fringe culture or could just be helpful for me to vent. either is great.   


  1. You need to understand my context, I am a freelance artist, I am not in part time or full time contract or role with any organisation or structured company that gives a salary or monthly wage. I get money when my invoices are paid. I am neurodivergent and get ill often. I can’t work when im ill. I'm currently in a good spell and have worked consequently since Feb of this year.  What I mean by work is small days 11-4pm/ 3-4days a week. In this good spell i still have been ill but at shorter spurts (2-3days every few weeks)

  2. I wanted to do fringe because I'm more likely to get local and national venues to see my work than any other time and maybe international interest. We all know the lucrative opportunities that fringe can offer.

  3. I didn’t have any cash flow to pay for registration costs. who the fuck does as an artist? 

  4. I got a payday loan to pay for my fringe registration fee and venue guarantee which was  £2398.

  5. that was stupid but a payday loan was my only option to stay in the fringe ‘game’ 

  6. I was selected by Summerhall after an application process. I wrote in my application; “I think it is absolutely vital to have more and more neurodiverse artists at the fringe forging new and gentle ways to engage with audiences, programmers and media at the fringe”   Gentle? I'm doing 3 consecutive weeks!!

  7. I have never done longer than a 3 day run. I make work about mental illness and trauma which most of time comes from the autobiographical. So doing 3 weeks of back to back shows talking about the sucide of my uncle is really stupid and potentially dangerous.

  8. But i'm still doing it.


  9. I felt like I couldn't request a smaller run or more break days and this is not reflective of Summerhall but of the fringe culture. 

  10. ACCOMMODATION. the flat I wanted which was not fancy or lavish by any means but had a bedroom each for all company members (4) dog friendly (so access friendly) was £7,000 for 3 weeks. 

  11. The one i have cost me £4,929 and has no parking.

  12. I have no money to pay myself or aaron (boyf) who will be away from his work. He owns his own business so he is literally coming at a detriment to himself and his £££.

  13.   I have sold 7 tickets out of 1394

  14. god that last one has depressed me 

  15. . https://festival19.summerhall.co.uk/event/life-is-no-laughing-matter/ book a ticket.

  16. If you have read this and your first thought is “yeah? everyone is in this position” that doesn’t make it right it makes it wrong on a mass level. And it gets more wrong the more marginalised you are. On the (fabulous) fringe of colour database they have 11 QTIPOC shows just ELEVEN!!! That number is so small i had to write out the number, you know?! how will these folks fair well with be cared for at fringe, be safe at fringe, be paid properly at fringe, experience bigotry at fringe? illness at the fringe? violence at fringe? 

  17. .https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/176IK8sTTH0AbJ1j4xDOyRUY-h4vWAX5W4uwno_gPMk4/edit#gid=0   give QTIPOC your money. book tickets.

  18. i don’t want to get ill

  19. Can I afford to take off September to recover?

  20.   absolutely not.


Ann Liv Young's racial violence

This was written by a neourdiverse artist with dyslexia, please bare that in mind.

A few weeks back I was part of the ‘Save Your Soul’ festival programmed and presented by Sophiensaele, Berlin. A festival with a curatorial focus on therapeutic forms of play in performance.

The programme also included artist, Ann Liv Young. I was unaware of  Ann Liv Young before the festival but since then, hearing from others and trusting google I understand Ann to be a well-known performance artist who has been admired and celebrated on numerous platforms. 

This statement is to call out Ann Liv Young’s racial violence both during her performance at Sophiensaele and after her performance (via instagram) and a call to the performance art community made up of festivals, programmers, producers, artists, academics, audiences and venues to stand in solidarity with those affected by her racial violence by not programming, working with, attending or promoting Ann Liv Young’s work in the future.

Clarity of the racial violence that occured: 

Young's show consisted of performing as a self-created character, ‘Sherry’ a character that she herself has said “is always improvised” and “has a very loose structure” so unknown to the curator of the festival, Joy Kristin Kalu,  ‘Sherry’ (Young) while singing said the n-word. 

She was singing along to a song that has the n-word but as a white woman she had/has no authority in saying/singing/performing that word. Character or not, performance art does not give her permission to dismiss her power and privilege and violence as a white woman. It does not exonerate her of her racist actions. Period. 

Performance art shields white supremacist violence every day in the name of ‘free speech’ ‘critique’ and in Young’s own words “asking difficult questions”What actual questions were proposed by Young that night, that was actually difficult or contribute any helpful action to anti-racism? If Young thinks that by ‘playing’ the dumb racist White woman claiming violence cannot occur because it is just a song is a reflection of our social climate she is not wrong, but how is that helpful or productive or difficult. It looks quite easy from my position; a white woman says n-word claims authority because of societal ill, Simple. To imply difficulty is to claim a degree of complexity and interrogation by Young as an artist, but perpetrating and reproducing violence on black people to reflect society is not difficult. it is easy, it is easy, digestible and read as ‘radical’ and ‘controversial' art that many white artists indulge in every day, case in point, Brett Bailey or  Dana Schutz. 

 Ann’s post-performance Instagram rant on why she will not apologise because “I didn't do anything wrong” cements the violence and twists the screw of trauma for the black audiences that were present and for black people trying to engage her in a conversation online. She became and is a racist troll. No exceptions, even stating her mixed children as a currency of legitimacy is sickening. 

Ann has stated ‘sherry’ the character was “a catalyst that night for a much larger issue” in her words:

“Why were there only 6 or so ppl of color n the audience? Why were there not more performance artists of color??? I ADDRESS THESE THINGS CONSTANTLY n my shows.”

To that I would say, I am glad that not more black folx were in the audience, knowing that pain and trauma could have affected more is worrying and I'm baffled at Young’s lack of empathy. Stating in capitals that she addresses these ‘things’ constantly is a true staple of white feminism; to shout about lazy non-direct action that will do nothing to dismantle any racism in the industry. Would Young like a round of applause for doing the bare minimum? How about paying black performance artists to be in your work? hand over the mic, the light and attention to those artists you say you talk about in your shows. That is difficult, difficulty that Young is not attuned to, to ask herself to let go of power. 

If Young will not take meaningful action then power should be stripped from her. This is a call to the art community to show real allyship and call out this violence by not programming, working with or promoting Ann Liv Young’s work. I would ask this statement be shared as the bare minimum of labour from white allies.  I’m asking white allies and non-black POC within the industry to contribute meaningful action. I am especially calling upon those in positions of power and status to stand in solidarity.  

I would like to signpost to the artist, Fannie Sosa whose online labour and actions of calling out Young alerted me and others to this violence. 

This statement includes only the artist, Demi Nandhra’s sentiments and opinions and all quotes have been hyperlinked from original sources. 


i’ve never had a breakdown. 

this year i had a breakdown

march, maybe april, i don’t really remember.

i do remember, the only thing i let get close was death.

it sat with me just waiting for me to say ye.

my breakdown was triggered by stopping my medication, like cold turkey.

i stopped and as the numbness fell away I finally had clarity. 

clarity of that pain

my pain,

well little me's pain.

and we all know are little us’s, their pain is just really fucking vast right?


i've learnt that survival is sometimes the only mode my/your

body knows when little me/you felt immense trauma, like that its default setting

but you forget.

seeing trauma flood your beings, your family, your loves. 

but you forget.

you forget that trauma does what it does.

it seeps into your little skin and writes you.

writes shame, no, stabs shame in you.

ever so small, so small you forget its there

till you remember

till you remember.

i remember now that i left her, 

little demi. 

i ran so hard i left you

and it wasn’t your fault, 

it wasn’t your fault. 

you deserved to grieve. 

i let go of you, before you could. 

your pain was valid.

it needed a ceremony, 

it needed food, 

it needed singing, 

it needed flowers, 

it needed  ritual,

you needed to let go.

Im so sorry you didn’t get that


but i can start now with the only thing I can build from, love. 

toni, my beloved Toni says it's not a breakdown it’s a breakthrough and I kinda, deep down thought that was bollocks, till now, this year.

if this breakdown has given me anything it’s knowing that the only thing that needs to sit that close to me ever again is love regardless how many times death will sit on the other side of me, i will summon, drag, pull, push love to the other side.

the legacy of trauma has been carried without consent for so many generations and i will dedicate my life to trying to put it down and i start with this. 

A series of images of celebration of me and my being. 

this image is for me

its soft 

its power

its resistance 

its open

its a reminder of these past months and how i will heal.

i will continue to post images from this series that I'm nicknaming breakthrough. cheese like, but #livingmybestlife



I’m Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired - The Podcast. 

What the world needs now is a pursuit of freedom rooted not in fear of someone “taking” what’s “ours” but in a radical kind of love that refuses to settle for meanings of justice, safety, and independence that re-create the shackles, borders, colour lines and other punitive forms of policing and surveillance we just escaped to claim our freedom”

-Rev. angel kyodo williams, Sensei

A podcast about POC, QTPOC, Womxn of Colour, Mental Illness and Radical Liberation.

I'm Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired will be sitting down with artists, activists, political organisers, mental health practitioners, cultural theorists, spiritual grandmothers to discuss, learn and dissect care, liberation and mental health for identities that are policed, denied and erased within White supremacy. 

*This podcast is currently being researched by just Demi Nandhra which is funded by Arts Council England* Below is her current/ongoing musings for the content of the podcast which has been influenced by wider reading and conversations.*


Discomfort is where real liberation breathes?

A kinder, gentler suffering inspired by Radical Dharma

Self-care for POC going beyond bath bombs

“You don't need thick skin in this industry you need white skin”

Political Depression and therapy for QTPOC, Womxn of Colour

The most important political activism starts with family & friends?

Love is not justice

The power and pain of shaming institutions

Collective sadness as productivity


We will be launching the official podcast space online in May 2018.  From now and then we are researching and looking for people to participate in - 

  • Research

  • Hosting

  • Interviewing

  • be part of a podcast conversation

  • Focus group

All involvement/labour will be paid x

Get in touch at deminandhra@hotmail.co.uk / 07545460907


A few tips for you and your diversity policy

1) When you push your ‘diversity’ agenda and is framed with the singular intention to ‘diversify 1) the content and 2) the team’ this is hollow and trivial bullshit. Take the word ‘diversity’ out of your title /address/seminar/and put real hefty, substantial words into your catchy title like ‘lets push to decolonise this theatre woo! or ‘lets address the systematic racism in this museum’ or even a bit far fetched but ‘lets look at my OWN prejudices and how that impacts how I programme work’

2) Adding more colourful creatures to your pot doesn’t automatically negate the actual issue that it is still YOUR pot! And with that pot YOU have the power, ownership and MOST importantly the privilege, that you embody and feel in your everyday interactions. YOU hold the seat, feel entitled to hold the seat and you, (arww bless you) are now inviting people to your pot, table, whatever.

3) When creating diversity initiatives let’s start with you and your organisation/platform/festival/theatre/gallery, don’t invite me in or others for an event to talk to you about the importance of diverse perspective and breaking structural oppression. WE know but do you. I want to be seeing all white cis men and women creative directors, chairs, board members, executives, producers to get UNCOMFORTABLE. Please start a fucking keynote with ‘Last week I was prejudice to a trans women and I need to this and thisl….’ Be open and vulnerable with your prejudices, deconstruct and un-pick! That un-picking takes time soooo pay an artist or activist to work with your team/space for a year (how radical) and not just one little workshop. Make real commitments to changing your attitudes, your spaces and your platform.

4) When pushing your ‘diversity agenda’ don’t clump all unrepresented groups into one event. Give the fucking respect and dignity each minority deserves. The intersections are important, dedicate resources, time, energy, MONEY to each intersection. I want to be seeing huge seminars on black queer women in the arts and then huge seminars/events on the trans perspective and struggle within the industry, and then a huge event on disability inequalities. How disrespectful to frame all the VALID and UNDER APPRECIATED MINORITIES into one singular event?

5) For the love of god have safe spaces for all minorities within your team/programme. This is the working of privilege when you don’t realise being a minority comes with all kinds of microaggressions that require space and time away to heal.

6) lastly but no means least you want some ‘diverse’ people at your ‘diversity’ event then pay for their goddam travel!

7) this is actually the last - Don’t get offended when we say these things to you! You ask for diversity, we provide the information, drain ourselves and then YOU feel personally attacked by legitimate and valued points. Don’t invite me to your table if you are not ready to give up a seat!

A Response by Selina Thompson

Artistic response by Selina Thompson to Life is No Laughing Matter at mac Birmingham Nov 2016


Demi Nandhra begins her show Life is No Laughing Matter, hidden in plain sight.

There is only one person on stage – a young man, sat in front of a macbook, who looks bored, frankly. He looks up from time to time at a custard coloured blob, in centre stage, between two fans. It looks like it might be a bean bag. We hear a dog bark – not in an organised, this is a sound effect from the theatre way – the dog barks and is hastily silenced or taken out, his bark is pre show adrenaline made manifest, and he gives us an inkling of the intimacy that is about to follow, of just how close, skin close, Demi is about to let us be.

When the lights go down, the yellow blob moves, and we realise that Demi has been there, inside it the whole time. She attempts to feed herself, and the show has begun.

Demi is selfish, she tells us. It’s first thing she tells us, and she repeats this throughout the show. She has her boyfriend, Aaron on stage with her, because she needs him to do the show, despite his agoraphobia and hatred of public spaces. She buys a dog, tiny fluffy, white Yoko, who comes on stage and brings chaos with her; even though Aaron doesn’t want one, because she’s read it will help her. She doesn’t take the bits out of the show her mum doesn’t like. It is a show that radiates mischief and humour, cheeky and loveable, messy and rude, a spoilt brat with a distinct brummie accent. It is a delight, impossible not to love.

Because the things is, Demi is not selfish. And Life is No Laughing Matter is one of the least selfish things I’ve seen in some time. It gives and gives to its audience, it sees them in all their complexity and vulnerability and it is honest. Heart stopping, blisteringly honest. This is a show for depression warriors: for those of us who have been down in the trenches, not left the house, not been able to see outside of our own pain, not been able to stop saying those weird things about death. It is a work made in absolute solidarity with those that understand the subject matter, intimately. Skin close. 

This is a show that has come from a powerful brain. It constantly reshapes and reforms itself as it looks at depression from every angle, zooms right in on the personal and charges out into the political. What, Demi asks, happens if you end up in jail, where there is no CBT or access to pets? What, she asks, happens if you are diagnosed as an angry black woman and blocked from the support you need? Anticipating the next day’s election results, she reminds us that Depression is Trump, and a whole host of things outside of the control of the individual. Her stage is full of voices, opinions and advice that contradict each other, judge, aid and abet. 

She covers all angles – moving smoothly from the fare we would expect – what the symptoms look like, how it feels – into the knotty core of depression, the questions we are afraid to ask – the line between mental illness and your personality, the relationship between productivity, capitalism, mental health and medication, and the way in which wellness is packaged and sold to us. The show is heavy with animal analogies and richly imaginative – dogs, cats, Bengal tigers and unicorns all prowl about its landscape. At one point, she smashes a neon pink unicorn and pills of every colour spill out, as she reflects on her two months on Anti-Depressants growing into two years. She acknowledges her need for them, but her actions give voice to a deep anger about this need, and a system that cannot get her the talking therapy she needs for months, doctors who in the ten minutes they have, don’t talk about side effects or withdrawal.

She explores it all, a restless mind and a fierce intelligence that fights the listlessness of depression at every moment. There was never a stronger argument for just how much people with depression want to get well, and just how much they will try, then a breathless Demi, stuffing her face with bananas (she eats 56 in one week, Peter Andre got potassium poisoning after 10) running from one side of the stage to the other, as she and Katy Perry try to exercise it away.

If Demi is a hurricane, then Aaron is an anchor, the show’s fixed point. He does very little! He looks after Yoko the dog, when Demi is done with her, he cleans up – he fixes the boiler in a recording we hear of the two of them arguing. In the post-show talk when Demi mentions that if she doesn’t take her meds, she’ll be a nightmare the following week, he shouts out from the audience “it’ll be shit!” and I think it’s the only thing he says live all evening. But having him there is such an essential and important part of the show. An act of self-care imbedded in the work itself is not only a radical act, but also a reminder that often where there is someone with depression, there is also a carer. And in the final moments of the post show discussion, it is alluded to that this person also needs support, that this person is also bound up in our depression. Aaron, stoic, calm, sometimes bemused, sometimes bored, is the embodiment of that. I also think he is a little more knowing as a performer then he lets on – his poker face often a perfect counterpoint to whatever Demi is doing.

The show is at its strongest when it is at its darkest – when Demi goes into the territory that I think you only really, truly know when you’ve been through it. When she talks of driving around a roundabout, and not looking right – so that ‘it wouldn’t be her fault, just an accident’ -  I recall, so forcefully, saying to a friend ‘it’s not that I want to kill myself – I’d just like to let myself die’ that I stop breathing for a second. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so viscerally recognised and in solidarity with someone. When she stands, speaking of her Uncle’s suicide, and what it takes to just say ‘I’m out’, tapping into what, for me, has always been the darkest, deepest core of chronic depression; fearing it will always be like this, and wondering if your resilience has a limit, I am stood in my old kitchen in Leeds, looking out the window, and thinking – ‘I won’t come back next time, I can’t do this again’. She gets as real as it gets, as close as it gets. Skin close.


I don’t know what it is to have those moments on stage. I don’t know if you do start to heal or any of that. I don’t have the distance to make those statements. I think this is a show that will always be in a place of flux, moving in response to Demi’s relationship to depression at any given time, and this means that it is alive, live, in the truest sense.  And because of that, there is an ambivalence in the show I think – a place where depression, an immovable object, comes up against Demi’s resilience, energy and sheer beauty – an unstoppable force – and the show almost ends in a stalemate.

But in those last moments, when the lights go down; as Demi talks about making art as a way to live, the light of the macbook still shines on her partner, and on her dog. And every woman, largely, women of colour, in that room is with her. And even if the object doesn’t move, Demi and her audience have begun to make small cracks in it. And we all live another day.