Vinetta, Alfred, and Hilda Stromberg.

About The Strombergs Family Realization Fund

We are proud to welcome submissions for the annual Strombergs Family Realization Fund disseminated through Nightwood Theatre. This $10,000 cash award is intended to support a trans or cis woman who has spent at least 20 years in the profession of theatre in any discipline and is now looking for a way to finance a project of passion that includes aspects of theatre, music, and movement.

Vinetta Strombergs is established this “Realization Fund” in memory of her parents, Alfred and Hilda Strombergs, who emigrated to Canada after the war and settled in Halifax. They arrived as a classical musician and a ballet dancer. Alfred became the Conductor of the Halifax Symphonette and Conductor for the Nova Scotia Opera, while Hilda became the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Halifax Ballet Company. In the 50s they moved to Toronto briefly and subsequently Stratford, Ontario, where Alfred was the conductor at the Stratford Festival from 1957 – 1968. He also taught opera at the University of Toronto and worked with the Canadian Opera Company until the couple resettled in Edmonton in 1971, where he taught in the University of Alberta opera department until he retired in 1988. Hilda continued teaching ballet until she retired in the mid-70s.

Vinetta’s career in theatre spans 50 years, thanks to the support of her parents and the love of all theatrical disciplines instilled in her. She started as an actor and became a director in order to realize a desire to create theatre projects that no one would hire her to do. It started in 1985 with a futuristic all-female Julius Caesar with flamenco battle scenes. Her passion for theatre and independent projects continues to this day.

“As women age, they bump into barriers that force them to quit or fight,” says Vinetta. “Some forms of theatre and ideas about making theatre encounter obstacles that mean they fall through the cracks in the regular funding systems. And there’s never enough money to go around. Hence the idea to create this award and pay forward some support. This award is for senior artists who have a passion project that has fallen through the cracks, but who deserve a chance, and deserve the opportunity to receive funding for their project to be realized.”

Maria Clara De Sena

“The prefix TRANS means ‘change, crossing, going beyond, on the other side of somewhere else’ and for me that’s exactly what Vinetta’s award and tribute to her parents does, it TRANSforms dreams into reality helping to make society more inviting and inclusive. Like me, Vinetta’s parents arrived here from another culture and they TRANSformed not only their own lives but the lives of many with their artistic paths. Therefore, The Strombergs Family Realization Fund is not only TRANSforming my own soul, but is also reaching all the way back to thank and uplift my ancestors’ artistic expressions. I take this moment, especially in my parent’s names, to tell everyone that if you were born for something, it will reach you no matter what happens, so don’t give up. Together, let’s embrace what is TRANS in ourselves and in our world. I am extremely happy, grateful and confident to develop and share this project! Salve todas as Yabás!”

– Maria Clara De Sena

Suzanne Roberts Smith by Dahlia Katz

“From the first moment I met Maria Clara de Sena, I recognized her as an instrumental leader and felt in my bones how crucial it is to cherish her presence, learn from her wisdom and celebrate her natural magic and living mythology, in ways I could not yet articulate or even fathom. 

I will forever be learning how to perceive Maria Clara’s power and preciousness but presently, to be by her side as the co-recipient of the Strombergs Family Realization Fund, it’s as if a missing key has been placed inside our hands so we can finally unlock the doors to overcome some of the barriers in sharing her momentous life and compelling culture. Together with our creative team we will create a sanctuary where folx are welcome, safe and able to connect with their ancestors via the artistically accessible yet always epic expressions of the ORIXÁS… or in the very least, a space where they can be en-ter-tainT-ed AF!

Thank you to Vinetta’s lifelong passionate practice and her meaningful tribute to her parents’ bodies of work by generously supporting other female artists so that extraordinary works are not lost forever just because those artists did not have the right key in hand at the right moment in time.”

– Suzanne Roberts Smith

Nightwood Theatre is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Strombergs Family Realization Fund: Maria Clara De Sena and Suzanne Roberts Smith and their piece Oxúm is Alive & Well & Living in TO

This $10,000 cash award, established by theatre director Vinetta Strombergs in honour of her artist parents, is intended to support a woman who has spent at least 20 years in the profession of theatre in any discipline and is now looking for a way to finance a project of passion that includes aspects of theatre, music, and movement.

OXÚM IS ALIVE & WELL & LIVING IN TO (working title) is a coming together of five female artists to celebrate the life and queer mythology of Maria Clara De Sena and her powerful connection to the ORIXÁS (primary energies of the natural world) as well as interpret the traditional music and cultural aspects from her home in the North East of Brasil. Their creative ensemble is fortunate to receive the great guidance and spiritual support of  Lúcia De Besen- Candomblé Jeje (Hùnkpámè Séjà Hûn Jítò: Pai De Santo Hungbono Dorivaldo) along with breathtaking musical direction and collaboration from Juno Nominated Singer/Songwriter, Musician and Percussionist Aline Morales and exquisite movement collaboration from Dancer, Choreographer, Performer, Academic/Researcher and soon to be RMT Practitioner, Amanda Paixão

MARIA CLARA DE SENA is an Afro Indigenous Brasilian (Nação Ketu & Patoxó) artist, activist, world renowned LGBTQ2S advocate, performer, social worker, supermodel, who inherited a love of clothing design from her mother who was a dressmaker. She is the first openly TRANS refugee from Brasil in Kanata/Canada. Maria Clara is also the first black TRANS woman in the world to direct -Preventing & Combating Torture, a partnership with the United Nations in Brasil- providing artistic and cultural outlets for the gay, transgender and genderqueer folx in and out of the prison system. Through this dangerous yet life affirming and life saving work she was awarded the CLAUDIA PRIZE- Latin America’s top prize for recognizing and celebrating women in innovative Human Rights & Activism professions.

Since arriving in Tkaronto/Toronto in 2017, Maria Clara has dedicated her time to mentoring transgender folx and helping end transphobia & racism through interactive art education workshops and lectures at The 519, various schools, churches and local community centres. In addition, she continues to volunteer with Trans-Normal and Black Lives Matter initiatives online. As a fierce advocate of human rights as well as a powerful artist, Maria Clara is also a public speaker and respected political presence in many countries. Maria Clara grew up in a musical household and since her childhood performed professionally in a neighbouring town for the famous Quadrilha Festivals within ensembles of over forty and for live audiences by the thousands. Maria Clara has also been featured in at least three documentary films and is currently pursuing an additional career as a Personal Support Worker.

“I love to share my professional skills and encourage cultural exchanges as an ambassador of traditional teachings with the abundant knowledge of the power of inclusion and joyful elevation through learning together.”

SUZANNE ROBERTS SMITH is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada & The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre and a critically acclaimed actor, director, theatre maker plus passionate artist educator & percussionista. Suzanne has also worked in healthcare as an artistically trained Therapeutic Clown Practitioner. 

You can check out some of her acting work here as one of one hundred artists featured in TO Live’s Living Room Series.

Over the past two decades in Tkaronto, Suzanne studied and performed Traditional Afro Brasilian Percussion from the North East of Brasil. She’s a lifelong learner of these rhythms, instruments and cultural expressions as well as a dedicated listener of how to pay them respect especially as an outsider.

Suzanne’s central teacher, Juno nominated/singer-songwriter & percussionist ‘Mestra’ Aline Morales bridges the source Nation of Maracatu Nação Estrela Brilhante and other sacred rhythms. Suzanne’s creative partner and husband, ‘Mestre’ Sérgio Xocolate- Capoeira Master Practitioner & Teacher from Recife and Maracatu Nação Camaleão in Olinda, generously shares his Afro Indigenous heritage via traditional rhythms, teachings and key stories of cultural preservation and celebration. XOCÔ, his Afro Indigenous Psychedelic Punk Rock band is, as he puts it, an expression of his Pernambucana Soul within the Heart of Canadá’.

Suzanne is also a proud member of Aline Morales’ BAQUE DE BAMBA and LAS VULVAS. 

“Performing within each of these three percussion based musical ensembles feels like winning the lottery, thrice!”

We are proud to welcome submissions for the annual Strombergs Family Realization Fund disseminated through Nightwood Theatre. This $10,000 cash award is intended to support a trans or cis woman who has spent at least 20 years in the profession of theatre in any discipline and is now looking for a way to finance a project of passion that includes aspects of theatre, music, and movement.

Submissions will be accepted through the linked google form by Nightwood Theatre until Wednesday, December 8, 2021 11:59pm EST. Please reach out to if we can support any of your accessibility requirements. 

Please read the eligibility carefully.

  • Individual or group applicants must have devoted 20 years + to their careers in professional theatre (in any discipline).
  • Projects by individuals or groups will be accepted.
  • All applicants in a group application must identify as cis or trans women. 
  • The proposed project with which you’re applying must not have received ANY funding thus far. 
  • Individual and group applicants must be Ontario-based artists.
  • Award money may be used for artists’ fees and expenses directly related to the realization of the project, including materials and space.
  • Award money cannot be used for capital expenditures or expenses related to an existing ongoing company.
  • Priority will be given to live theatre projects in which music and dance/physical movement are essential elements.

To SubmitPlease click here to complete the application form, which will ask: 

  • Contact details of the lead artist(s)
  • A synopsis of the proposed work and the inspiration for it (please include any information about its history up to this point) (max. 250 words)
  • What is your proposed timeline including other potential participants, and how would you spend this award money? (max. 200 words)
  • Artist(s) bios. Each bio should not exceed 150 words. For group applications, please include your lead artist bios only.

Composition of the selection committee includes at least 50% IBPoC as well as Age and Gender representation.
We thank all applicants for their interest, but only those selected for an interview will be contacted directly. All applications are considered confidential. As Canada’s foremost feminist theatre, Nightwood is committed to creating spaces that are trans inclusive and that recognize a multitude of intersectional identities, which include race, ability, sexual orientation, age, and gender identity among others and prioritizes submissions from equity seeking groups. 

Dian Marie Bridge (2020)

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