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Kitchen of Innovation introduction, by Kate Mattingly

September 3, 2010

The more I have become immersed in the arts and the lives of artists, the more intrigued I become by the conditions that foster, encourage and nurture creativity.

In DC there have been recent exhibitions and performances that left indelible impressions, often created by lesser known makers (not the people with companies or galleries or full-time teaching positions at local universities). These events make me wonder how local artists find the funding and feedback that seem to be essential to art-making, particularly when these events occur at lesser-known venues, attended by small audiences and written about on local websites rather than mainstream publications. If these are the creations that are exploring new forms, pressing against staid traditions and making art relevant to people in 2010, how will these artists find the support, patrons and infrastructure necessary to continue creating?

One possible answer came in June of 2010 when Ellen Chenoweth and I were among a small group of people at Transformer Gallery listening to a presentation by Jeff Hnilicka. Hnilicka is one of the founders of FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) and with him that afternoon were Bryce Dwyer and Abigail Satinsky who createdInCUBATE in Chicago. These events are sometimes called “network dinners” because they bring together people who wish to support artists and provide a delicious meal – sometimes simple, sometimes gourmet. Attendees listen to artists’ proposals and select projects to receive the income of the evening. The Wahington Post wrote about STEW in Baltimore in June. These dinners also exist in MinneapolisPortland, Boston, Jersey City, Philadelphia, St. Louis and other locales.

In October, DC will have its first. Called KOI for Kitchen Of Innovation, the evening is being organized by Ellen and me. We have selected a group of artists whose works have inspired us and compelled us to explore ways to bring more attention and support to their creations. It is a diverse group – dancers, choreographers, film-makers, visual artists and puppet groups. Invitations went out to artists at the end of August asking if they would like to participate. Within 10 minutes of sendidng the emails, one artist had replied “Just a quick response to say I think this is an AWESOME idea” and another wrote back “LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! So happy you are putting this together and I would love to be a part of it.”

On October 23 we will gather in Columbia Heights at St. Stephen’s Church. Attendees will pay on a sliding scale (between $15 and $20) to savor food local growers and businesses and to hear from artists seeking support. Attendees and artists vote on the proposals they wish to fund and the projects with the most votes receive the income from the event. As we wrote to the artists: the purpose of KOI is to make contact with artists who are emerging, inspiring and innovative, to find ways to turn their plans into reality, to connect artists with potential patrons and collaborators and to cultivate the community of creativity that exists in DC.

The feedback we are receiving is fueling our motivation and momentum: it is a project that requires a huge amount of volunteer labor and donations of services. But the outcome more than compensates: for an artist to meet like-minded innovators, to grow their audience by another 30 or 50 or 80 people, and to have a chance to spend a night on the town and end up with money to put towards their next creation. This is definitely worthwhile.

For more information about how to be a part of this event or to reserve a spot, send an email to We’ll see you at St. Stephen’s on October 23, 8 p.m.!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 5:09 am

    After 10 years of self-funding, we have been “awarded” our 501(c)(3) designation on September 14, 2010, just 1 month ago. We have videotaped every event we have conducted over our ten year life, and now, we need funding to get this material “out of the can”. Our material is important primary source interviews of the important actors and influence centers on contemporary Americana. Please see as an example of our work. We would like to open discussions with you about our being featured in KOI. I can be reached at 202-321-6727. Thanks in advance.

  2. October 15, 2010 12:42 pm

    Hi Melvin,
    Thanks for your interest. We’ve had the artists lined up for this first event for a couple of months now, but if there are future KOIs, we will put you on the list of interested artists!

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