KOI brings artist networking dinners to DC

An interesting alternative method of raising seed money for new arts projects will debut in DC this Saturday, October 23rd, when Kitchen for Innovation (KOI) holds its first event at St. Stephens Church in Columbia Heights catered by Sweetgreen.

l-r KOI partners Ellen Chenoweth and Kate Mattingly

The brainchild of arts supporters Kate Mattingly, who occasionally writes for DC Theatre Scene and Ellen Chenoweth, the process is simple, democratic, transparent, and entertaining:  guests attend a dinner, provided by a leading restaurant, where they meet artists seeking funding and vote on their projects.   The artists with the most votes take home the income from the dinner. Lively interaction between the patrons and the artists helps the community feel vested in the new arts projects.

KOI is similar to network fundraising dinners which have been held in many major U.S. cities, including Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Portland, and Baltimore, and as far away as Kiev, in the Ukraine. The aim is to raise money for artists without the need for tedious and time-consuming cycles of grants and panels.  It also helps facilitate support for inventive projects that may not fall into conventional artistic categories.

Artists attending the October 23rd dinner are working in performance art, visual art, puppetry, and music who are starting new projects:  Holly Bass, Kristina Bilonick, Kelly Bond, HawaH, Simone Jacobson, Tzveta Kassabova, Pointless Theatre Co, and Ilana Silverstein.

October’s dinner features fresh seasonal wraps from Sweetgreen. Kate told us why they chose Sweetgreen to cater their first dinner. “Sweetgreen states its values as: “We believe we are all put on the planet with the potential to use our talents to make a difference, even if that difference is just a few extra smiles a day on the faces of our friends. No man is an island. We recognize and celebrate our connections.” When I hear people talk about food this way, it makes me think of great performances and exhibits which also emphasize our relationships with one another and the impact of the choices we make. In other words, lots of parallels can be drawn between food and the arts as the things that nourish us and give us sustenance.”

KOI will be held on Saturday, Oct. 23rd at 8:00 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church Columbia Heights, 1525 Newton Street NW (corner of 16th and Newton).  The event is open to up to one hundred attendees.  The cost of the meal will be $15 to $20 (based on a sliding scale).

To reserve your spot at the first KOI or to seek further information about the event, e-mail [email protected]

Steven McKnight About Steven McKnight

Steven McKnight is a recovering lawyer who now works in a lobbying firm and enjoys the drama of political theatre on both sides of the aisle. He admires authors, actors, athletes, teachers, and chefs, and has dabbled in all of those roles with mixed (and occasionally hilarious) results.

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