Sipp Culture is excited to welcome these distinguished artists to serve as advisors to the first Rural Performance/Production Lab (RPPL) RPPL is our first official open call artist residency program. This team of advisors have been instrumental in helping to guide the call to artists, application process, interviews, and decision-making. The advisors will continue to support the RPPL artists in providing consultation to their artistic projects, design of their residencies, and overall development. If you don’t know these folks, then please take a moment to learn about their work.

Ashley Hanson is the Founder and Director of the Department of Public Transformation, an artist-led organization that collaborates with local leaders in rural areas to develop creative strategies for community connection and civic participation. She is also the Founder and Director of PlaceBase Productions, a theater company that creates original, site-specific musicals celebrating small town life. She is a theater artist, community organizer, entrepreneur, musician, and advocate for arts in rural areas. She was recently named a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow and a 2019 Bush Foundation Fellow for her work with rural communities. She is a firm believer in the power of people, places, play and exclamation points!

Millicent Johnnie, an award-winning choreographer and director of theatre and film, currently receiving her MFA in film production at Florida State University. Prior to her entering film school her approach to filmmaking grew directly out of her early childhood experiences growing up in segregated southern Louisiana. She went on to join Urban Bush Women, first as a resident choreographer, and later touring as the ensemble’s Associate Artistic director. She has also served as a choreographer for Walt Disney Creative Entertainment’s Frozen: Live at the Hyperion; has worked A & R in the music industry through Marvelous Enterprises; performed at the 2016 Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro; and choreographed the feature film, Scary Movie 5 and more recently choreographed “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, a Broadway-bound play produced by Syracuse Stage and Baltimore Center Stage.

Nick Slie, a New Orleans-born performer, producer and cultural organizer. He is the Co-Artistic Director of Mondo Bizarro. Since 2002, Nick has toured a wide array of imaginative projects to art centers, universities and outdoor locations in 38 states across the country and abroad.  However, he is most proud of the work he does at home, where the land kisses the water.  Nick’s creative endeavors range from interdisciplinary solo performances to large-scale community festivals, from innovative digital storytelling projects to site-responsive productions. For more than a decade, he has been passionately engaged in rebuilding his hometown of New Orleans, collaborating across sectors on a vast array of local performance and arts-based civic engagement projects. From 2004- 2008, he served on the Executive Committee of Alternate ROOTS, is the former board chair for the Network of Ensemble Theaters and currently serves on the board for Goat in the Road.  Nick recently directed Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man and is developing his latest project Invisible Rivers.


Clyde Valentín, was born and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is the Co-founder and former Executive Director of Hi-ARTS (formerly known as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival). He is the inaugural Director of Ignite/Arts Dallas: People, Purpose + Place the community engagement initiative at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. The mission of Ignite/Arts Dallas is to challenge the imaginations of students and citizens to envision more just and vibrant communities through art and culture experiences. Clyde was a 2015 Community + Culture Fellow of the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. Valentín is an advisory committee member of the Latinx Theater Commons and has served as a consultant or panelist for numerous national arts organizations including Creative Capital, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), YouthSpeaks/Brave New Voices, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Theater Communications Group (TCG), the National Association of Latino Arts & Culture (NALAC), the National Performance Network (NPN) and Alternate ROOTS. He most recently joined the Local Advisory Board for Year-Up DFW and the Board of Texans for the Arts, the statewide advocacy organization for public funding in the Arts in Texas.

Yolanda Williams, (Director/Producer/Educator) is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She received her B.A. in Drama from the University of Dallas, her M.F.A. in Directing from the University of Southern Mississippi and was selected by the Theatre Communication Group (TCG) as a Young Leader of Color. She serves as a faculty member and production manager at Jackson State University in the Department of Art and Theatre. She is on the National Board of Directors for USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) and currently serves on the committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and as Chair for the People of Color Network. Williams also serves on the Board of Directors for Mississippi Theatre Association and as Chair-person for the Ten Minute Play Festival. She is the Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Blue Light Underground Ensemble (B.L.U.E.)– a Jackson, MS based theatre company that focuses on original, diverse, and inclusive work in the arts in the South. 

She has premiered new works at the Mississippi Museum of Arts and the International Muslim Museum. Her work does not end on the stage, she has worked as a Casting Director and Associate for many Mississippi based films and projects. She is an activist and advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts. Williams believes theatre creates an understanding of the human condition by telling stories while informing people of the past, present, and future. By helping young artist understand the workings of theatre, then one is able to teach collaboration while motivating them to build upon their individual strengths therefore cultivating collaborative artist