Returning to Washington DC after a year in Berkeley brings into focus changes in the city – the construction around U street, the disappearance of LoveCafe – and the ever burgeoning creativity of DC artists and arts-organizers who defy the weight and influence of huge institutions that dominate the capital’s landscape. In contrast to some of the larger and more established organizations, venues and festivals like American Dance Institute and the Capital Fringe find ways to nurture new ideas and emerging artists. The Kitchen of Innovation – KOI — plays a vital role in this ecosystem of creative possibilities: it is a grassroots fundraiser that seeks to support local artists and arts-organizers who have an idea to share with a room full of 100 curious attendees ready to put some money behind the project that best speaks to our community’s needs.
There is a trend in the arts today to present performances and installations that defy easy classification, blurring boundaries between dance, theater, visual arts, and performance. KOI recognizes the importance of supporting an idea rather than an easily categorized product. For the last two years – in 2010 and 2011 – KOI gatherings brought together a handful of artists from a range of disciplines – usually 6 to 8 people – with a room full of DC’s culture-seekers. Presentations were lively, food donated by SweetGreen was delicious, $1000 was raised each evening, and new contacts and friendships were formed. This year Ellen and I are excited to present a mix of artists and arts innovators in the line-up of presenters. We hope you will come to hear how their concepts can shift the artistic landscape of DC, and experience how you can become a stakeholder in the creative possibilities that keep DC a shifting and stimulating place to be.
(link to buy tickets and presenting artists will be announced later this week!)
The second-ever Kitchen of Innovation was held at St. Stephen’s on Saturday night, April 9. I’m washing the tablecloths and drinking some of our leftover caramba wine, and think the whole thing went off pretty well. Once again we had $1000 to grant to an independent artist in DC, thanks to people buying tickets for the event. Once again the projects that were presented were so compelling that the vote was split and the money was awarded to two proposals: Amanda Jiron-Murphy, curating an upcoming show by Janell Olah at Flashpoint ($600), and visual artist Carolina Mayorga ($400), who has a show opening later this month at the Greater Reston Arts Center.
But I think what I’ll remember about this one was the feel of the event. I heard Spanish, German, English, spied the bartender volunteers having a private dance moment, saw some known faces and some unknown, some olders, some youngers… and the whole thing was bathed in this warm, peaceful red light, thanks to the japanese lanterns strung up in the basement. To see artists from different disciplines sharing the space with each other and connecting with new potential audiences and supporters made artistic pursuits seem a little more feasible in this unique spot on the map. I love being surprised by DC; Saturday night reminded me of all the little pockets where art grows in this city, from the studios at 52 O Street NW to Dance Place.
Stay tuned to this space for the date announcement of KOI #3, looking to land in late August or early September. We have the presenting artists selected already and they are an astonishingly diverse and talented bunch.
Big thanks to our sponsors: the always-extraordinary Pink Line Project, the gracious and generous cupcakery known as Frosting, and our wonderful friends at sweetgreen. And thank you to our volunteers, who were immensely helpful, and the rocking, co-organizing team of Mariah, Jimmy, Kate, Rebecca, and Wayles.
Hop on our mailing list or just say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: April 9, 2011, 8:00 pm
Where: St. Stephen’s Church, 1525 Newton Street NW, Washington, DC
How: Brown Paper Tickets, $16.50 per person
Questions?: kitchenofinnovation [at] gmail [dot] com
The second Kitchen of Innovation (KOI 2) takes place April 9 and builds on the success of KOI 1 to continue connecting artists with each other and grassroots financial support. This open-ended experiment radically transforms funding models and seeks to promote independent artists who are changing the creative landscape of DC.
KOI is inspired by similar arts funding events in Baltimore (STEW) and Brooklyn (FEAST). The concept is straightforward yet unpredictable. Attendees buy tickets which allow them to: enjoy a dinner party; engage in lively, intimate and spontaneous conversation with artists and fellow patrons; vote on their favorite project; and become investors in the creative processes of DC artists.
KOI 2 brings together six artists who are creating innovative public events and exploring new ways of working. Artists include: Nancy Bannon (theater/film), Amanda Jiron-Murphy (curatorial project), Katy Kincaid (eco fashion), Carolina Mayorga (performance and visual art), Lisa Rosenstein & O Street Studios (visual arts), and Roxann Morgan Rowley & Next Reflex Dance Collective (dance). By presenting their projects at KOI 2, these artists gain both an opportunity for funding and the ability to connect with members of the art-supporting public.
KOI 1 funded two local projects: a dance performance by Holly Bass and a studio/print shop venture by Kristina Bilonick (Pleasant Plains Workshop). KOI 2 will build on this success by making possible more innovative artworks throughout the Washington, DC community. KOI continues to cultivate creativity in DC.
KOI 2 will take place at St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights at 8:00 pm on April 9. Tickets are $16.50 per person and can be purchased through the Brown Paper Tickets website. Sweetgreen is once again partnering with KOI to provide savory goods and The Pink Line Project is again an official Event Enthusiast and supporter. KOI is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of KOI may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
KOI is back! Save the date: April 9, 2011. More details coming soon, but if you’re an independent artist interested in presenting a project for community funding, we’d love to have your application. See below!
Kitchen of Innovation (KOI) invites artists to submit project proposals for its next networking fundraiser to take place April 9, 2011. The deadline for submissions is
FEBRUARY 25, 2011.
KOI is an open-ended experiment that invites DC culture-lovers to invest in artists’ creative processes. It is a fundraising event that gathers like-minded people and promotes artists and initiatives. We are looking for projects that may not comfortably fit into conventional funding grants and artists who are not receiving steady income from galleries, theaters, universities, or non-profits.
KOI encourages creativity and investment: people who attend pay admission, share a meal, each artist gives a brief presentation, everybody votes, and the winner gets the money.
At the next KOI there will be 7 to 8 artists presenting their projects. If you are someone working with performance, sculpture, sound, visual arts, dance, puppetry, theater, web-based art, installation, or any combination thereof, please tell us about your plans. We are looking for projects by independent artists, meaning people who are neither in school nor working as full-time teachers. Recent graduates, adjuncts, and freelance artists are strongly encouraged to submit their ideas. We seek to fund proposals that are in need of creative investors and enrich DC’s artistic landscape.
We will ask the artists who fit KOI’s criteria to present their proposals in person in March and then choose people to present at our next events (there are 3 more KOI fundraisers planned for 2011). The first KOI (held in October 2010) generated networking opportunities, contacts and ideas for artists and participants, plus two artists split the income of $1000.
If you want to be a part of KOI, send answers to these questions to email@example.com
Include your name, email address, phone number and mailing address:
1. What is your project? (please answer in 150 words or less)
2. How will your project benefit people besides yourself? (answer in 150 words or less)
3. How would you spend the money received from KOI? (using 150 words or less)
4. Tell us if you are NOT available any of these dates/times: March 4 between 6-9 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 between noon-3 p.m. These are the dates we will meet with artists who fit KOI criteria and hear more about the project proposals.
The deadline for sending in your answers to the 4 questions: February 25, 2011
Daily Candy DC made us a pick for the weekend.
The Washington City Paper also chose us as a City Lights best bet for the weekend and did an excellent longer feature for their blog.
DC Theatre Scene did a nice article on KOI on their site.
The Washington Post ran a story as part of Jessica Dawson’s weekly art column.
All that coverage helped ensure a healthy crowd at St. Stephen’s, which led to a larger pot of money for the artists. We were unable to accommodate everyone who wanted to come, which speaks to the interest and need for alternative arts funding strategies in this town. If you are interested in future events, please drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our mailing list.
What system flourishes in isolation? What community survives without rejuvenation and creativity?
Maybe you can name some, but I am hard-pressed to think of one.
There are places where the arts – exhibitions and performances – have become like a factory, churning out predictable wares with the decisions about who makes what held by a few – critics, grant-making panels, and wealthy patrons.
What about the people who experience and enjoy creative offerings? When do we decide which ideas to support and which artist’s project to invest in? Like growing a garden, don’t we savor things differently when we have contributed – financially, energetically – to the process? Many of us who are passionate about the works we see by DC artists search for ways to show our dedication to innovation.
Last night was about becoming stakeholders, engendering support, nurturing creativity and collaboration. The part of the evening that inspired me the most was the synergy between the ideas of the artists and the attendees’ eagerness to invest in their projects. When we collected the ballots, we saw that people had taken notes to remember the specifics of the projects. Many said they loved being at the Kitchen because they could support something they cared about and meet artists they had not yet discovered.
Our intent for the evening was to nurture the innovation and spirit of camaraderie that make it possible for communities and the arts to flourish.
We hope that other outcomes were enjoyed by everyone: meeting people, sharing ideas and hearing about the diversity of work being made in our community.
Too often I have seen artists stymied by the quest for awards or favorable reviews and paralyzed by funding structures that make them work around parameters antithetical to their process. KOI was about usurping that model and putting power in the hands of the people.
Artists who prosper tend to be those who have people invested in their work, aware of their vision and committed to its realization. KOI was not some kind of aesthetic “American Idol.” Every person in the room shared the idea that we have the ability to shape our cultural landscape and the arts are for all and benefit everyone.
Many thanks to all our partners – especially Sweetgreen whose motto could have been written for KOI:
Keep It Real
Care About Your Impact
Share Your Gifts