Incubator Arts Project

The Incubator Arts Project is, you guessed it, an incubator for artistic creation. It was started by artists in 2005 as a program of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater to support experimental works by developing artists. As the program grew and thrived, unfortunately the theater it was started under did not. When the theater closed, the Incubator Arts Project became a part of the programming for another organization, Performing Artservices Inc. Why start a full-fledged business when you can benefit from becoming a part of one that already exists?

It is not the same, but this makes me think of the Nonprofit LLC.

Alchemy NFK

Alchemy NFK is a grassroots effort to anchor the Norfolk, VA cultural district.  It was started for a pop-up installation included in a Team Better Block event almost a year ago.  Intended to be a pop-up creative space in a recently vacated property, Alchemy was such a hit that it never left.  About a month later, the co-founders scraped together a down payment and artists agreed to pay rent to fulfill the mortgage payments.  Now Alchemy is looking toward a long-term plan and is nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign to re-vamp the building into more suitable space.  What is most interesting to me is both its similarities and differences to Red Dirt Studios and also how effective community need played a role in its success.

Patatap by Google


Laptop as an instrument? Learning synesthesia? Thats the hope of Google’s new keyboard symphony program called Patatap.  The interesting experiment here will be to see if colors, letters, and symbols can offer more than reading music can –and might it contribute to perfect pitch? Each letter of the alphabet gets mapped to a unique sound and a playful animation. Holding down a key plays both the sound and the accompanying visual on repeat; smashing several at once layers everything into more complex soundscapes. When you’re getting bored with one set of sounds, you can tap the space bar to pull up a new collection to jam with.  Produced by Google, they make money from this enterprise by selling your preferences and by promoting their own google “chrome” browser within their app, which leads to advertising revenue.  In the future, they’re looking to make a more expansive subscription model of the program which they will make direct revenue from.


My adventures with Salzburg Global Seminar in Pasadena, CA this past week introduced me to MindLab, a cross-governmental innovation in Denmark. MindLab works with three ministries and one municipality of the Denmark federal government to help them view their efforts from the outside-in and see them from a citizen’s perspective. Essentially they are contractors for the government, hired to co-create government ideas and make them easier to use, more functional, and citizen friendly.

One of their most successful projects was redesigning tax filing in order to make the information more clear and accessible to young people.

The organization is run by a “Board of Management,” which includes four representatives from each of the ministries and the municipality in which the organization works. They also have an advisory board that encompasses leaders in the public sector and companies throughout the nation.

MindLab is a unique example of cooperation across the public sector and the federal government.

Name This Fork.

The Urban Ministries of Durham cares for Durham, North Carolina’s homeless and impoverished community by serving as a comprehensive service provider of food, shelter, clothing and supportive services for over 6,000 men, women and children annually.

While their programming may be traditional (shelter, food pantry, clothing donations, and a community cafe), their fundraising and communications methods are quite innovative. One particularly interesting fundraising campaign is Names for Change, which allows donors to “name” a daily item that may be taken for granted, but that is highly prized by those in need. In exchange for their donation, donors can create a personalized poster of their named item.

To launch this project, UMD partnered with ad agency McKinney to design posters of 169 items that play a role in helping someone who is homeless or in need of emergency essentials. Using the tagline “This is just stuff. Until you don’t have it.” the campaign offers donors a way to do good, personalize their philanthropic experience, and better understand the importance of items that can be easily taken for granted. Costs range from $20,000 – $500 for limited edition items (like the Merge Records Stove of Cookin’ with Gas) to as little as $1 to name a butter pat (The Geneva Berke Butter Pat of Blessings) or $26 to name a casserole (The John Coughlin Dinner Casserole of Potluck Dominance), making participation possible for a wide range of people.

Another interesting way UMD communicates the importance of its work is through their online game SPENT, which challenges players to make it through one month of daily obstacles faced by many Americans with a monthly income of $1000. As you play, the reality of your decisions is reinforced with statistics about the challenges faced by America’s 14 million + unemployed citizens. This game was made pro-bono in partnership with McKinney and commercial sound designers White Noise|Lab. It has raised $45,000 so far for UMD, and was awarded “Most Significant impact” Game at the 2012 Games for Change Festival. You can watch a trailer for the game or play it here.



Founded by Jesse Dylan (Bob Dylan’s son), Wondros works in service of great ideas — both established and on the rise. WondrosLABS develop and launch ideas that will change culture, taking concepts from scribbles on napkins to apps, products and companies designed to serve the greater good. Basically, its a production company that focuses on branding, multi-media development and commercial/advertising work.  Whats cool about them is that they take really, complex businesses that might take hours to understand and they communicate the companies essence through an artform – whether its music, photography, etc.





Choice Map

Starting a new enterprise can mean making a lot of tough decisions. If you struggle with decision-making, then this App might work for you. It reminded me of the Magic 8 Ball on steroids initially. I haven’t tried it, but it seemed interesting. It was released on January 1, 2014. It’s free. Check it out. 

Maker Village KC

Similar to other artist collectives with shared space, Maker Village KC is a place for “makers” of all sorts to share equipment, time, and space.  This project is in its very early stages of iteration having just bought the building and begun renovations.  Their goal is to encourage prototyping and small batch production with the space through some sort of membership.  This may mean that no one maker has a set space at all times, but all members share in a more fluid way.

A Two-fer of Revolutionary Theater: Cry You One and Mondo Bizarro

Cry You One is a grant-funded project that shares stories of people affected by the various environmental issues around the Gulf Coast (BP oil spill, shrinking coastline, climate change, e.g.). It exists as both a physical, site-specific performance as well as an online platform. The project is a partnership between two New Orleans-based theater groups: Mondo Bizarro (see below) and Art Spot Productions. The website is elegant and easy to navigate. They are motivated by making great art, but also building a movement. It’s a really nice intersection of art and social change (my fav!). Here’s a quote about process from an article on the blog for Antigravity Magazine: “To collect these stories, ensemble members have engaged in a process of deep listening around the state, casting a wide net for subjects ranging from scientists and environmentalists to fishermen, tomato farmers, community organizers and even the former chief of the United Houma Nation.”


Mondo Bizarro is a theater collective doing fabulous work in New Orleans. Their website does not give any information about sponsors (they don’t have a donation option either) and to the best of my knowledge, they are not a 501(c)3. I believe they generate most of their income from grants for specific projects, while also offering educational and documentation services to a broad range of clients. I first got to know them through a class I took with Junebug Productions at Tulane about community-based art. Each member of the ensemble is an independent artist with their own body of work/research, but they seem to work together in a really transparent, collaborative way that results in thoughtful, high-quality performance.

Hey guys, let’s Gathr.

Gathr is a theatrical on demand service that allows you to bring movies you want to a venue in your village, town, suburb, or city. The goal is to unite movie lovers with films they want to see, in their neighborhood. The catch is, screenings can only happen if a minimum number of people reserve tickets before a screening request expires (this is to ensure that the costs for the venue will be covered through ticket sales – i.e. you are not the only one watching the film!)

It costs nothing for filmmakers to place their films on the site – they only have to do their own outreach, so that people know they can access the film. Extremely low risk, for everyone involved. Once ticket sales exceed the necessary reservation number to make the screening occur, Gathr gets 30% of those additional profits, and the rest go to the filmmakers.

So if there is a film you want to see, tell everyone and make it happen.

My shameless plug here is that I discovered this cool service through a friend, whose film is currently on the site – Roaming Wild. Check it out.

Also, meet Gathr’s sister site: Tugg. It’s practically the same thing.