Project of the Day: FEAST Brooklyn, Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics

FEAST Brooklyn is a recurring public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund new and emerging art makers:

At each FEAST, patrons give a $20 donation for which they receive supper and a ballot. Diners spend the evening reviewing a series of project proposals and conversing with the artists behind each idea. Attendees cast a vote for their favorite proposal, and by the end of the night, the artist who garners the most votes is awarded a grant comprised of that evening’s door money. Since 2009, FEAST Brooklyn has produced 12 dinners, funded 30 projects, and awarded $19,656. Meanwhile, similar models have emerged all over the country, resulting in a network of organizations committed to rethinking how art is financed and communally experienced.”

Here’s an expert from the FAQ:

“How did FEAST Brooklyn start? FEAST emerged from a collective of friends discussing sustainability in the arts. We concluded that the arts should not rely solely on the support of exclusive, private capital. We wanted a more localized model for art funding. We wondered how art could serve the immediate needs of a neighborhood and in turn find financial support within that community. We found inspiration in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm shares, and in many respects FEAST functions as a CSA for artists.

Perhaps most importantly though, we were directly inspired by our friends at inCUBATE in Chicago and their Sunday Soup program. We owe them a huge debit of gratitude.

How does the application process work? Several weeks before each FEAST, we post an open call for submissions. The application process is deliberately simple. After the deadline, the organizers of FEAST choose eight submissions based on these criteria:

Artistic Innovation — Is this an original and/or compelling project with artistic merit?

Community Impact — Will this project address or be of interest to the community that is funding it?

Administrative Skill — Is this a fully-considered project? Is it communicated effectively? Is it feasible? Can the artist or group execute the project based on the description?

We send our regrets to those not chosen and invite the selected artists to present their proposals at FEAST.

Who can apply for a grant? We encourage all artists, thinkers, and organizations at any stage in their careers to apply. FEAST grants are intended for concepts existing outside of an artist’s typical practice — from urban gardens to mobile party vans, public sculpture to performances. Unlike conventional grant programs, artists receive funding immediately and therefore are enabled to create timely work.

I can’t make it to the event, can I still apply? No — You must be present at FEAST to present your proposal. Grant recipients are required to present their progress at the following FEAST.

What kind of proposals are the organizers looking to present at FEAST? Initial FEAST events were laissez-faire. But due to a growing number of applicants, FEAST organizers now pre-select eight proposals per event (see criteria above). There are no absolutes, and we love the diversity of applications that we receive. Nonetheless, we seek projects that have an impact on the community funding them. This is very open to interpretation; it doesn’t have to be a civic or environmental project, it just needs to keep the community in mind. You may have an amazing play that needs funding, but if it does not in any way speak to a community, much less the attendees of FEAST, we are probably not the best avenue for you. Similarly you may be an incredible visual artist who deserves money to generally maintain your practice, unfortunately the structure of FEAST does not lend itself to such requests. Instead, we see FEAST as an opportunity to expand your current practice by considering how your community might participate more directly in your work. Think outside your practice — we are inspired by individuals looking beyond their everyday mediums to execute pointed projects that are creative, interesting and seek to engage, improve or define a community.

What kind of projects are likely to receive funding? After two years and hundreds of proposals, our organizers have cultivated a sense of which proposals are likely to earn votes. As with any grant, the main criterion is quality. No matter the medium, mode or method, if your proposal is compelling, thought provoking, and clearly communicated to the voter, you have a good chance of winning. Review the past grant winners to see the variety of projects FEAST voters have supported.”

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