The exception to prove an established rule — THIS SUNDAY is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
We’ll be talking to Abigail Satinsky and other members of InCUBATE, particularly about their initiative called Sunday Soup — hence meeting on Sunday — a platform for the international network of food-based micro-granting initiatives, highlighting the growing community of granting projects with over 35 now in operation including FEAST, STEW, Philly STAKE, Detroit Soup, Portland STOCK, amongst others.
What is Sunday Soup? The Soup Grant is a grassroots model for funding small to medium sized creative projects through community meals. The basic formula is that a group of people come together to share a meal and that meal is sold for an affordable price. All the income from that meal is given as a grant to support a creative project. Grant applications are accepted up until the meal, everyone who purchases the meal gets one vote to determine who receives the grant. The grants are completely unrestricted and will be awarded at the discretion of the customers. Granting projects affiliated with Sunday Soup in different cities operate based on their own needs and context. The meals are more or less elaborate in different places and some people have presentations by potential grantees or past grantees as part of the event.
Why do they do it? The Soup grant not only generates independent funding but sparks dialogue about resource allocation within the mainstream artworld. In an environment where governmental support for experimental art practice is scant, and private support is dictated by the values and priorities of granting foundations, innovative and potentially controversial work is compromised in order to fit within categories deemed “fundable.” It needs a different “world”… in this case, the world of soup. With Soup, community participation in the grant funding and selection process is key. Applying for a grant is intentionally straightforward in order to encourage broad participation. As the Soupers say, “this enables us to stimulate and promote experimental, critical and imaginative practices that may not be eligible for formal funding. The Soup grant, while raising money, also serves as a way to build a network (or what some of us insist on calling a world) of support and community that reaches beyond purely monetary assistance. We like to think of it as an open platform to discuss ongoing projects with new audiences, meet new collaborators, and share ways of working.”
Week 49 SUNDAY: Sunday Soup
Scott: Hey everybody. I just wanted to play a little intro for you guys real quick.
Abby: Oh yeah I didn't get to hear that yet.
Scott: Well here's something that you probably wasn't expecting I don't know maybe.
[Recording of Sunday Soup]
Scott: That's probably enough actually she just kind of kept going.
Abby: Is there a dance that goes with that?
Scott: I don't know Parker is there a dance that goes with that?
Scott: All right well welcome everyone I'm just adding a few more people to this chat.
Abby: Do you know every time somebody wants to add to the phone call you have to hang up and then…
Scott: I totally don't and in fact interestingly we thought so for the longest time and like just killed our conversations that way.
Scott: And we don't because I'm adding two more people right now.
Scott: Or three. Okay anyway, did Mary get added? I'm just going to add her real quick. Let me try. But in any case welcome guys it's great to finally talk with you about Sunday Soup our weekly series of chats.
Abby: So you guys how long does the Plausible Artworlds Project last? How many more of these things have you gotten through the year?
Scott: Through the year so yeah we're on Week 49 of 52 right now.
Scott: Right 52.
Abby: Long stretch.
Scott: Yeah. Basically just the first week of January through the last week of December. Is Kristin not in on the call let me just make sure. I guess not. All right let me try to add her real quick. But anyway yeah so I know a few of you guys have been on some of these past chats but I don't know if everybody has. So for those who haven't welcome to the series of discussions about these structures that people are making that we insist on calling Plausible Artworlds. We're talking with – I want to introduce Abby and Brice but I think there's like half the people on the call or more are already involved in Sunday Soups right.
Brice: Well I'm not sure. George Wietor who's also on the chat he does Grand Rapids Sunday Soup and Michelle does Public Meals in Upstate New York, but if anyone else does a micro granting food meal based project thing they should say hi and say we do.
Arianna: Okay hi this is Arianna. I do.
Brice: Oh yeah and Arianna. Yeah sorry I missed Arianna.
Arianna: No problem.
Brice: Arianna's out in Portland and does Portland Stock.
Scott: Very cool.
Kristin: Hello I'm Kristin. I participate in them and have in the past.
Abby: You participate in which? You're just here.
Kristin: I participated in the Sunday Soup [inaudible 04:40].
Abby: Oh excellent. Welcome.
Narisa: This is Narisa.
Narisa: Hi. We do Feast in Boston.
Abby: Oh awesome I've met you right. Didn't we meet at that thing? We might at design studio for social intervention?
Narisa: Yes I think so.
Abby: Yeah cool. I'm glad to hear you're doing that.
Narisa: Yeah we're…
Abby: The whole town.
Narisa: Good stuff.
Abby: Yeah. So how do you want to do this Scott should we start introduce a project? I mean basically that's the format that we were thinking me and Brice talked about was that we were just going to talk about origins of the project and what we're kind of [inaudible audio breaking up]. And then ask George to talk but he just got disconnected.
Scott: That's okay I'll re-add him. Yeah that sounds perfect. Yeah talking a little bit about the origins would be great because ultimately I think if it wasn't clear from earlier talks or chats together what we really want out of these discussions I mean besides meeting everybody and having a time to meet up, which is totally awesome in itself – oh shoot hold that thought I'm like half talking and half adding people.
Brice: People are freaking out in the chat.
Scott: On hold. Yeah if someone could type in just like Kristin and Mary. Oh no Mary's back on. Kristin I think is holding herself so I can't – it says held remotely which means the other person's holding so maybe if somebody could sort of relay that to Kristin to.
Yeah so anyway what we really want out of these I think is to talk about the kinds of structures that people are setting up that sometimes are considered projects in themselves or are sort of recognized or self-recognized as art projects and other times are not. But in any case are setup because structure to support the kinds of practice and cultural practices that you want to already be involved in weren't there already or weren't sufficient or at least not in your area or not as specific enough. And in some cases just really weren't there at all. And those are what sociologist call artworlds. They're these structures that people make that allow a kind of creative practice to happen, like literally happen, as a kind of support structure. And also allow a kind of practice to be understood as art. So anyway it may sound kind of calling Sunday Soup art but in a sense it is, at least it's an emerging one or it's an example of one. At least we think so and we kind of like to talk together about, at least a little bit, about what it's about, like kind of why you want to do that in the first place…
Scott: …and how it's working out and maybe some strategies.
Scott: Yeah. And of course I know you wanted to use this as maybe a kind of planning chat too a little bit.
Scott: So we can totally do all of that.
Abby: Yeah. I mean I think for me I would prefer if we kept, I mean I'm totally comfortable talking about how we started Soup I mean me and Braswell and how everybody sees it, but I would also like to take this opportunity to hear from the other people that are on the chat. Because a lot of times what's really awesome is that we talked about this recently, we've certainly done a lot of thinking about it, we haven't had enough chance to hear from other people that started it where they were seeing like a sort of lack in their local artworld that felt like they wanted to make this thing happen where they were too.
So that for me would be an awesome thing to like really draw out in this public conversation is just sort of different perspectives on organizing, especially because InCUBATE doesn't do it anymore. So and that was kind of – and I think that is part of the conversation that we want to have to because there's reasons why we don't do it anymore and a lot of it has to do with kind of burnout or a sort of where it's like taking some time to think about these processes. And so I guess that's the other sort of part of this conversation because it's important to talk about the sustainability of initiatives like this. Because I think that sustainability we don't talk about it and expand it in an enough way. And it's not just about doing it forever it's about sort of thinking through this and it leads to something else. And what kind of long term way do we see all those things sort of linking up there mainly.
So I guess I'll just start Brice and you can jump in whenever.
Brice: Okay sounds good. Yeah go ahead.
Abby: So InCUBATE started in 2006 and we all met in grad school and we were studying Art Administration and Policy. And initially we came together with the idea that we felt like there wasn't enough conversation happening within an art administration program about nonprofits and how we can sort of open them up and think about creative organizing models. It felt like that we were just sort of being told the tools to be successful administrators like this is how you write a grant, this is how you do a marketing strategy, or whatever.
But at the same time it was pretty obvious that in the funding climate that was out there nonprofits were struggling really hard and that was just sort of like oh yeah this is kind of a little bit of a thankless field because you're never going to make any money and this is just rich people that sort are holding all the purse strings or whatever. At the same time that we were in this program in Chicago which felt like there was so many awesome examples of kind of radical organizing models both in spaces such as Mess Hall or experimental station but also different kinds of collectives like temporary services and/or long history of things like culture and action which was public art project that Mary Jane Jacobs organized.
So we were just then okay how can we take this kind of institutional learning happening and dry out the connections between sort of Chicago artworld that we see being really excited but it maybe it feels alienated from institutions because they don't really know. Like I don't know there's this idea of institutions transposing their model onto art collectives or something. I don't know like we felt like there wasn't any channels that were happening back and forth. I mean we wanted to figure out how to have a kind of active learning process of students and relate to our city and really learn from what had been there before and not just think that whatever we're learning in school was just going to translate into some awesome job. Some abstraction but that we wanted to learn what practice were happening and how we could better facilitate them as creative organizers ourselves.
So that was kind of our initial thought and we started with the idea of money too. Like think through the idea of alternative fundraising models for artists and for people that don't necessarily want to become nonprofits because we felt like the sort of overarching logic of nonprofits are supporting experimental art is that they have to organize specific way with the Board and a certain kind of hierarchy. And they're supposed to have the language of growth. It's like nonprofits like you're not going to get any grants unless you've existed for five years or whatever, all these things. And so we wanted to take the idea of like creating a space, figuring out how to fund it as like a creative problem. So we ran this space for a couple of years and we had residency program, we were curing shelves and all and a bunch of stuff. And people started to come and ask us about where they could get money. Artists started to come and ask us where they could get money for their projects. And that was actually Ben Shaafsma who came up with the idea of doing Sunday Soup which was a community meal that would generate money for creative project grants.
So we were just thinking what are resources at the table? We have the space, we have a kitchen and we have a community of people that seem interested in this question how can we create a platform that will both be functional in the sense that it will generate small amounts of money that we felt like could really be helpful to artists that were doing kind of projects that weren't fitting into traditional funding categories but also sort of have an open space to really think through these problems and talk about them openly and share ideas. And it wasn't just about the competition of the grant but about facilitating a community with a set of questions that could then sort of expand ours. So I don't know Brice if you want to talk about like, I don't know, how it worked or whatever.
Brice: Yeah. So we started doing it and when we began we would do it every single Sunday which was kind of insane. Either one of the four of us or a friend of ours in town maybe an artist a curator or someone doing something interesting would make a big pot of soup. We would hang out in the space for like three hours every Sunday afternoon and just try to let people know that they come by and buy soup for $5 bucks and that it would be contributing to this thing and then at the end of the month we would collect grant proposals, email them out to everyone who would come, they would replay with who they wanted to get the money and then we would sort of write a check and give it out to the wining artist or person who had applied for the grant.
So we did it this way for a year and a half every Sunday making soup. Sometimes with no one coming and sometimes with maybe just a handful of people coming usually brining leftover soup every week and eating it a week ourselves. So after doing this for a year and a half every Sunday we were starting to realize like maybe I think we were all kind of starting to get burnout on being there every Sunday and doing it this way. So we decided to kind of step back and make it a monthly thing instead of a weekly thing. And as soon as we did that we were almost always packing a space. I think people didn't have the excuse of saying "Oh I'll just come next week" anymore. So when we decided…
Abby: Yeah. And we formalized it too…
Abby: …so there was like talks.
Brice: So instead of it being just like three hours of like come hang out with us and we're stare across the table at each other while you eat soup. It was instead from 12:00 to 1:00 everyone would show up and they'd eat the food and when we changed it, it cost $10 dollars instead $5 because we were also making additional food beyond just the soup. So from 12:00 to 1:00 everyone would eat. We would pass around all the grant proposals that we'd printed out. And then from 1:00 to 2:00 the guest chef who had made the soup would either give a talk about their work or present some project they were working on, lead us in some kind of activity or arrange something else for everyone to do sort of like a group so that people kind of knew what they were getting into, they knew what they could expect when they showed up to Sunday Soup on the one day of the month that we did it.
And it was way more successful having it be kind of, not intensely formal, but at least kind of defined situation that people were walking into instead of this kind of nebulous like weird paying money eat soup with strangers sort of space. So we did it for a year and a half in that way and we stopped doing it last December because we decided to close our space here in Chicago. And we decided to close our space because Abby was going out of town for a Fellowship for Providence. Roman one of our other members is still in the Ukraine he went over there on a full bright and Matthew who's the fourth lives up in Evanston, which is a north suburb of Chicago so he doesn't live super close to the space. So I was going to be the only person kind of like right there. And its running space as I'm sure you all at Basekamp know it's like something that one person can't really do by themselves. And it's even hard to do with like four people so.
Abby: Yeah. That is just to say that like InCUBATE was never like a job for any of us and it was always something kind of about the collaboration between the members of the group. And so it just made sense at a certain point that we just couldn't keep it going at the pace that we were doing it at. But the other thing that over the course of the last year that we've been working on is we've presented it publically in a bunch of places. So Democracy in America, Creative Times Exhibition last year and we did it in Houston and we did it in Buffalo.
And then kind of just tried to start telling people about it and just saying that that this was a model that people could take up. And then last spring just kind of felt like it really exploded as a concept that it's really hard with this text thing and the talking at the same time yes. So luckily a bunch of other people has taken it on as a model and really been pushing it sort of on a national scale. And that was when we started to realize that we wanted a central resource to kind of hold information about all the different soups that were going on. Part of this grew out of a conversation last May at the opening engagement conference in Portland State University they have a social practice MFA Program and a lot of people that are organizing soup were working on that conference, were a part of that conference, and so we officially got together as a big group. We had representation from that do soups or soup related food projects in Baltimore and in Grand Rapids and at the Portland people and Detroit and Philadelphia and New York. And it was just a really exciting time to kind of swap notes about how people are organizing things.
And then we asked George and we were having conversations with George about creating a Web site that would just kind of have all the information, have a place where somebody that was uninitiated to the process could just say "Hey, like where is this soup that's happening in my city? If there isn't one how do I start one?" Just sort of making it more accessible to people. So I don't know is there anything else we should say Brice for now?
Brice: Someone in the chat asked about why was the competition, which is like an interesting question because I think Sunday Soups brings up a lot of and this sort of model having a lot of people pay money and then voting to decide where everyone's money goes in the end brings up a lot of democracy problem questions.
Brice: And I think it's other people who have done sort of meals like this since we did ours have found better ways to deal with the competitive nature of it all. But in an ideal world I like to think of it not as a competition but like as a lot of people gathering together in one place sharing the resource of money and making a collective decision about where that money goes, which is less competition to me and more like a form of small scale participatory democracy. That being said, there's all sorts of problems that come up when you have this thing too like somebody can bring all their friends and then all their friends vote for them, and of course they're going to win if they live in a place where they can just get more people that like them to come out…
Brice: …and pay for the grant. Some other ways people who have done some of these fee based micro grants in the past couple of years have dealt with this is by, for example, Baltimore Stew they sort of select themselves three different organizations or projects each time they do a meal that the money will be going to and it's split amongst the three of them. Is it split equally or is it split by default?
Abby: No it's not split equally so the way that they do it is they do a five course meal in between each course. The potential grantees present on their work. And then at the end you get to vote and so that you can either vote to fund one particular project or all three. And so basically nobody leaves empty handed, which I think really works for them because they're doing focused much more on like social justice initiatives or social justice art projects. And the one that I attended there was a domestic violence art therapy place, free after school program, things like that. And so it really kind of, there's an expectation that people are advocating for their particular projects, at the same time that it's creating an environment in which nobody will leave empty handed and they don't really feel like that they're up against the people before. I think that would be the goal.
Abby: So yeah. Oh and just really briefly somebody also asked if the InCUBATE's not our job what is our job? I'm the director at a gallery which is a nonprofit. And I think that that is also something that was really important for us about InCUBATE is that it was like a meeting space a way to come together and sort of assess out the problems of our career is going to be like or the choices we're making and the compromising and negotiations and just sort of being open about those questions. And so we never wanted to turn InCUBATE into a job so.
Scott: Also wasn't part of the point of doing this to raise questions about a number of existing systems and structures.
Scott: I mean it's not as if you were trying to propose a panacea right.
Abby: Yes totally, totally. So yeah I don't know maybe George do you want to talk about the Web site a little bit?
George: Oh yeah sure I can. Can you hear me all right?
Abby: Yes I can.
George: Yeah okay. Cool. All right well the Web site is – the other point I don't know how useful they're going to be – but the Web site is basically a platform that helps us facilitate everything or almost everything that Abby and Brice just described. It has a whole bunch of features. Like on the front side you can see live stats like the total impact of 70 Street Network as a whole of the amount of meals that are charged, the amount of proposals that have been added to the systems, things like that. There's also the ability for each individual group to self-organize. A group so that no one has to approve them. Within the group you can add tons of information about yourself because too many people are arguing wasn't meant to replace anyone's personal project Web site just a way to facilitate grant reporting and things like that.
So you can have all sorts of information and links even to [inaudible 25:58] if you have something that's there. You can also use it as a way to plan a meal and a meal is sort of the basic unit, everything is sort of connected to the meal. And you can do it in two ways. You can do everything wise through the site, meaning they can accept proposals to the site if they wanted to use that framework or they could have it just the administrators only after the fact. Here you can use the Web site as a replacement for an individual project Web site so we are asking all our Africans to do it through the Web site.
Brice: And one of the reasons that we wanted to build the Web site was not only to like sort of create added ability for everyone's project but to kind of like produce this statistic thing on the front page that shows oh man when you add it all up it shows this is all the money that's given away by people around the world holding these sort of independent organized meals. But we also wanted there to bet he sort of functional component where if people wanted to use www.SundaySoup.org to be the place that they collected proposals because it's sort of easier just to point people somewhere and say enter your things into this field and we'll print it out and sort of circulate them.
Have a read to at the meal that it could be a Web site that's helpful to people in that way because I just know from doing it here in Chicago for three years it became a total pain in the neck to sort of like take everyone's weird PDFs and Word files that they would email to this other web address that we had setup and like try to standardize it all for these grant proposals that we circulate around. It was really difficult so if there was a way that would make I easier for the organizers who run these things to do things kind of simpler and quicker that would be a real tangible helpful thing to people. So we wanted it to have both those kinds to the Web site.
George: Yeah totally. And the way that I developed a proposal for was I just went through all the projects that were online and looked at the proposal environment. And all together that added up the side question everything was asking the same thing with a few variations. And so the form up there is not every possible question that went out but everything that everybody has had so far within reason.
George: You can also add that piece to the soup. So it's a way to start a way to start sharing the recipe. You can also could add resources like trash that you were given, guides that you've written, tips and things like that. And those always start within the group and then also share publically in that sort of master resources list and that's the goal for the recipe book as well. The recipes within your group but also in a big overarching cookbook.
Brice: Right. I'm sorry George go ahead. I was just going to say that's sort of like the basic way the Web site works and everyone should go and check it out and see for themselves. But we'd really be interested to hear from people who are doing projects like this and from anyone whose lucky to attend projects like this. We'd like to hear what would be helpful for the Web site to have, what other things might make it a useful tool for people both as organizers and as kind of participants in these sorts of events.
So yeah that would be really helpful to hear some feedback on that as well. And I think we also forgot to mention that like we don't feel very like proprietary at all about the idea of Sunday Soup. We really want anyone anywhere to take up the basic premise which is like invite a bunch of people over and cook food, have them pay money for their proposals. And having anyone anywhere take that basic idea and change it around however they want and call it whatever they want and have it exist independently if they like as well.
So that's an important thing to bring up when talking about all this too. And that www.SundaySoup.org is not to sort of like just kind of glom everyone together back into this one project but to really try and help people because we know from running it ourselves that at a point you sort of get burned out on it. So if there's some way that even though we don't do it in Chicago anymore that we could sort of contribute to having people not get burnt out as easily that would be hopefully really helpful so.
Abby: Yeah and the other thing that I think would be awesome to hear from folks that are on the chat too is the idea of like what does it mean. Like the way that we were thinking about the Web site too is creating this place where all these different groups can meet together which I think is an interesting challenge with this particular project because it is so locally based and happens in real time and happens in particular places. I guess this addresses one of the questions that's coming in through the chat it's about where are these things happening and it's not to mean to – the Web site in no way replaces that experience of this happening there.
So I guess this is just sort of to say that what do people think about a kind of national network of these different kinds of granting projects which could be accomplished through them. Is it just important to point out that like these things are happening we can get excited about them or like what is the potential of a site like this too? So that being said, we'd love to hear from people that are…
George: Yeah. Should I cover quickly like what the immediate next steps are?
Brice: Yes that would be great. Thanks George.
Abby: That would be awesome.
George: Okay some of them are really very small, for example like I said, if you press the fees on [inaudible 32:08] site it's just recipes. So some of these projects aren't [inaudible 32:13]. So [breaking up] add more stuff to the front page could be like a way to track new projects across the entire network as they're added. Because right now some of [breaking up] is very, very individual group oriented right now so you have to go, for example, to see all of the Brooklyn projects some kind of mute thing on the front page as well as the sketches from individual projects. As well as the directory of regional opportunities for some [breaking up] and people in your area who guide you to starting your own. Both of those kinds they kind of came up in that very quick and prompt view. She's obviously had a creative time so they're not really [inaudible 33:04], though that is something I'd like to talk about later.
Scott: Yeah George and everyone, hey this is Scott. I just want to ask you real quick. A few things come up in the chat and they're kind of, I know one thing was addressed at least slightly about the location. I think Aaron had a different point to that too which is sounds like maybe there was some other ways that things could be organized as well.
Abby: Oh I see.
Scott: Yeah like my topic or idea or maybe there's other ways that he didn't mention that could be organized.
Scott: I definitely like the way you're setting it up. I think George already knows that's definitely not precluded at all by the way it's structured, which is cool.
George: Oh yeah.
Scott: Yeah. Because we can always be more organized. But I was also curious about like in one thing that I brought up around the same time when you had mentioned the recipes is that I was curious if you had thought about or were interested, or maybe already are doing a site thinking about recipes metaphorically in a sense. Because what you're doing beyond, I mean you're not really doing a cooking show even though food's obviously an important part of what you do clearly; there are other things that go into this.
And so it sounds like I sort of wondering if recipes could be almost like the, I mean not to be antichrist cookbook style, but we've also described the publication of putting together as kind of a sort of recipe for alternative ways of world making. I think in your case in a way you're making literal food but you're also, I don't know, making different kinds of recipes in a sense, different ways of structuring like certain approaches, like different strategies.
George: What the resources section is partially meant to be about adding the sort of How-To's, Best Practices, things of that nature.
Scott: Cool yeah totally.
Scott: It sounds like a recipe for making an event someday.
George: There's still a lot to be added there but the functionality is there to do it it's just, as with anything, there's a lot of stuff you have to do there.
Abby: Yeah. Yeah I mean I think it's – I don't know it's pretty – I guess I would just say yes I mean that seems to make sense to me. I mean it really is about making it sort of understanding the meal plus raising money plus grant proposals equals a granting project. Like keeping it simple like that as a formula and then however people want to take that on. I don't know like yeah. I think it's just more like a style thing right too because recipes soup and the whole thing it's like you call it resources or How-To instead of recipes. Do you know what I mean? Yeah I don't know if anybody else has these thoughts about it.
Kristin: I'd like to speak a little bit about my experience with Sunday Soup.
Kristin: I'm Kristin I participated in the Sunday Soup in Grand Rapids multiple times. I think the immediate benefits of having Sunday Soups anywhere is going to be an encouragement to artist and an encouragement to communities to support the arts and to have more faith in cooperatives. And I think it means it's inaptly difficult to keep up steam doing projects of your own or keeping energy for other people in their projects or both by yourself. So it's just a good time to meet and keep that energy going in a city. And I definitely received that from going to Sunday Soup even if I wasn't applying for a grant.
I think of a time I was needing to more just go and participate than receive the funds but now as in a different financial state I definitely do need the funds for doing projects even though I don't live in Grand Rapids anymore. Like I think the site is great also now because as being a person to have moved to a new place where there isn't a Sunday Soup I feel more encouraged to know how to start one going or to start one anywhere I now move, even though I've been to one and end up taking notes. It's nice to have it all in one place and be able to like have conversations going with other people. I think the first Sunday Soups of Grand Rapids were more so directed toward with a community mindset or community focused for the projects that received funding, but that's reflective of the town or of the city, and it's a very community based city which I think is great but it could be a versatile miniature grant too.
And it did start moving more towards individual artist projects kind of branching away from just community projects but kind of being community and the individual art. Sorry I'm not really explaining myself well. The Resograph project that was granted. The Miniature Man I think was a great transition from community based project grants to artist grants as it was an opportunity for artist to keep making. But I think it's I don't know I like how it was versatile and grants are often versatile. But I definitely think that it needs to be more inviting for an individual artists because if you're an artist up on the stage rooting for your project and it's a personal project for you to be able to make what you make and it's going against something that's going to benefit many different people that is a more of community mindset. It's kind of hard to get wind against that because somebody who wants to make you seem selfish and wanting to make your art one. It's a community outcome anyways when you're making your art. So that's some of my 10 cents I guess.
Abby: Yeah I mean I think that's an interesting question too because I like just to think about the Web site something that we wanted and that we hadn't done a very good job on our InCUBATE site is like sort of a catalog of all the different kinds of projects that we funded because it's not just about the form of meal it's about all this other kind of cultural activity that's happening locally that we're trying to support. I mean that's what we're really trying to highlight it's not the soup itself but its function is.
I don't know I feel sort of conflicted about that because I do totally feel really sympathetic to the idea that individual artist projects and individual artist brands are really hard to come by and they're deserving of support. I think also but to me it seems really exciting as well that this kind of community grant then goes towards not necessarily but I guess it does tend to do that about like sort of projects that had forward another way.
Abby: But it's like kind of there isn't to me when I look at the kind of funny landscape it feels like the kinds of the projects that are about community engagement that are perhaps more experimental in nature but also they don't have very many that used to get funded too. So I guess it feels like I like the idea of kind of forum for an individual artist practice to be in conversation with a community based practice and that I would hope, and I don't know how to facilitate this more but sort of just have a conversation about how those different projects operate.
Because I know that somebody came to our soup once and they had to critique that it felt like we didn't have an open conversation about who gets the grant it was more just that person presents and then there was a voting process. Whereas in most granting panels there's a long conversation about what deserves that grant for what particular reason, what's come before and all that kind of stuff. So I don't know.
Kristin: There's just a certain energy though that can't be replaced when receiving the grant right after presenting.
Abby: I'm sorry say that again.
Kristin: I think I'm receiving the grant right after experiencing the proposals and then cooperatively whoever exists inside that room that they're voting there's a certain energy inside that room that is encouraging for a community or for cooperatives so. Immediate results are good sometimes too for the next meeting or for people to come back again.
Abby: So Kate is saying on the text that Philly Steak was set in a way that encouraged groups over individual artist practices. Is she on a talking chat? Are you on their Kate?
Scott: Kate I think is on the talking chat.
Kate: Oh hey. It was interesting
Kate: Sorry I'm on Basekamp. Yeah what I should say like it was interesting to [inaudible 43:04] of people that individually state their – and I don't know that this was my desire but this was the whole one and it be very focused on TV and less on art practices. So the whole way it was setup was sort of – I wouldn't say discouraged but to your studio practice because I wanted the kind of proposals that what were brought out and the language such that it wasn't promoted to people like that.
So it's interesting to me that's what cooking is saying because like in Philly it was sort of like nobody wants that. And I always say one of my favorite things that about this whole network is that I think every other really like the flavor of the city. It begin to say that it's so valuable as a model. But yeah it's interesting. I know that there are other people – like there are others that are much more sort of individual artist brands that like one of [inaudible 44:18] studio types of people and their materials for that. Will that work?
Abby: Yeah. Yes.
Kate: It's all in French it's very confusing.
Abby: It's all in French.
Kate: I'm on a French computer.
Abby: Oh okay.
Scott: Arianna mentioned in the chat earlier that they had a system that they instituted in for one to kind of keep the Tierney of friends from overcoming everything. So maybe Arianna can talk a little bit about what we were talking about the changes they made to the voting and stuff.
Scott: Is that cool?
Arianna: Can you guys hear me?
Arianna: Okay. So our first round we had it was very obvious that the person who brought the most friends won. And because we had this idea that we really wanted it to be people discussing what mattered to them like as a group. The people who were there for the dinner we started doing this as where we have all the proposals which was up to 10 be voted on in the first round and we narrowed it down to just three for the second round which would make it sort of virtually impossible for one person to bring so many friends that they would be able to staff both rounds of voting and that's helped a lot. Although I think that there's sad things that happened because of that too. But it seems like it worked better than – it's more beneficial than it is sad.
Scott: Thanks. It almost seems like – yeah I mean it's a strange problem to have to deal with because in a sense if people are doing that it's kind of like hey guys you don't want to become draconian and say "Hey you're disqualified for being jerky." We're kind of going against the spirit of bonding or whatever.
Abby: It seems like the way that that model is effective is because each proposal has a constituency and it brings in people so it's always refilling itself [inaudible 47:03] people.
Kate: I wonder if that isn't more of an issue in smaller cities than larger ones. Because like we had that at Minneapolis with the first Minneapolis Soup which is sort of like people really, really [inaudible 47:19] there were business people that stuffed the ballot box by a landslide and they're really not just about it. And then they're like you didn't really follow-up with their projects and there'll like all this stuff. But like in Minneapolis [breaking up] artists that don't necessarily know each other anyway. I don't know. And like I imagine that Portland is similar like turning small really relatively speaking.
Kate: But I don't know it's like it didn't happen to get [inaudible 48:05] thinking about it the first time that it caused problems. And I think people sort of worked it out that they would just like vote on the project that they last [inaudible 48:17]. I don't know it's kind of interesting.
Abby: Yeah every time we have a dinner it's really obvious who the constituents are for each application. So it always starts out with people being really sure who they're going to vote for and very few people come just to see what's there. Very few people come without having some sense of who they would be voting for.
Scott: You know when we talked, Kate and everybody else who was at that chat like weeks and weeks ago or months ago, when talked with Brooklyn Feast we also talked about Sunday Soup because we all obviously – because they make it really obvious that this is where, maybe it wasn't obvious to everyone sorry whoever wasn't there, but to everyone that was there it was super obvious that it was very clear that this was part of where – this is really where that sort of a process started. But we talked a lot about the particularities of their process.
And like one of the things that really became a sticking spot was like literally how the proposals were. I mean I think, sorry to clarify, how the proposals were actually setup in the first place had a lot to do with – it sort of set the game, the playing field because proposals were in the help situation where they were just like scads of people proposals were selected ahead of time and those are kind of things that were weeded out. And we really talked about how it was then put to a vote democratic style after that. But then we also discussed whether it was even – whether it made sense at all to actually even [inaudible 50:31] it was going to be a selection process at the beginning if you know what I mean. And I was kind of curious if anyone else has dealt with that issue or is that pretty much [inaudible 50:41]?
Teresa: Hey Scott its Teresa. We thought a lot about that and we basically decided as a group to choose these first commissions that came in so that we did not have anything to do with [inaudible 51:00]. We didn't want to think about the conversation that does come up when you select whether or not fair, whether or not people feel like they're given an opportunity and we really want to keep [inaudible 51:15]. So we accept the first…
Kate: [Inaudible 51:24].
Teresa: Can you guys hear?
Scott: Yeah it is a little staticky but I think that's [inaudible 51:32]. We'll just have to deal with it that's just the way it is.
Kate: In Brooklyn when they, and I can speak for them because I know what their process is even though none of them are here tonight, they kind of do it in a – I think they throw out some speakers – but I sort of try and get a good mix of very different kinds of proposals and ones that they feel would be successful project. Like they're not really happy with that. I mean it's not like [inaudible 52:07] but it's also like what do you do when you're getting toward the – I think even like the first Philly Steak we had 20 almost 30 project proposals. And it was just like totally overwhelming you can't deal with that much information.
Scott: Yeah I mean…
Kate: But what do you do in a limit then?
Female: And then the issue comes up are we privileging those who have better access to the internet that basically have you put a call out. I think we did 15 last time when we were talking.
Abby: Yeah. I mean I think that's when I went down to Baltimore that came out that seemed like a big question for them and I actually don't know how they've been doing it lately but it's like they were reaching out to people who specifically wouldn't know or be initiated into like this process. And so some place like a free after school program perhaps wouldn't know that this art collective was giving these big dinners at Red Emma's Bookstore that they could potentially get a couple of hundred dollars. But at the same time yeah it was kind of strange because you could vote for everybody to get money so basically they were curating who was going to have access to that event. So I don't know. It was really her team also liked that it was bringing up a lot of questions for them.
Teresa: This is Teresa again. I'd also like to mention our organizing process was just basically made of all strangers. We'd give like a call to organizers [inaudible 54:08] when we started and [inaudible 54:09] of that yet. And so we actually have a group of individuals that represent groups of people that wouldn't necessarily come together to an event. And when we do our call most people do their outreach I think that it's really helpful that our entire audience in that way [inaudible 54:28].
Kate: We also had two fellow line dancing proposals which were really odd I don't think that's ever happened before.
Abby: Well I guess it'll be good to hear from the other soup projects too about whether or not since we all do have individual web presence and particular ways of organizing and ways of reaching out to our networks like how the Web site, is the Web site a repository so that just people that are not involved with these projects can see all this activity or does it feel like it has some, I don't know, does it feel useful to you kind of centralized in this way? Especially because we all have really different ideas about what this project is about too so.
Brice: Quickly, one way that it's been very useful for Grand Rapids is having all of you out there actually gives our project a little bit more cache with the local community. Like it makes it easier to illustrate that this isn't our crackpot idea and we're asking for your money to fund our projects. I think that explaining it like ourselves as a note in the context of wider network is really, really helped other people to kind of instantly grasp what we were trying to do. So that's often helpful for all these meetings in Grand Rapids.
Michele: This is Michele and I guess we're pretty new to this. I mean our public meals has grown out of TV show, cooking TV show that I used to do in my house. And I got kind of burned out from that and it's a response to living. I mean that was in a response to living in such a rural place that's really not that great of restaurants. And so we started just wanting to do things for each other, cook food and really invite new people into eat with us and try to keep growing community in that way. And so we just done our first local table it was called in the fall where we asked people to bring in food, to donate food and me and my friend Angie and a group of other people who volunteered team up with a menu that was specifically tailored to that.
So we're still really interested in this idea of cooking and this idea of gathering people together but because I'm friends with some people in Portland and I met everybody out there last spring I started thinking about ways that we can kind of change it so that it actually has a bigger impact other than – I mean there is a great impact when you get people together and we do talk about work and we talk about what's going on with kind of local political issues and things like that but I think – so I'm actually I think the Web site is useful. I think this conversation is really useful because I'm in this point where we haven't decided how we have people present their projects or if we invite them or how we vote on them. And I'm aware of some of the issues that other areas have had.
So I think the Web site if it allows for even more communication about how those things are, how things are working out, or how different groups are doing things differently I think that's actually really helpful. So that's what I was looking for when I've been meaning to put our site up there and today I just went on and was looking. And I think that's one of the things that we're really interested in before we jump into having our next meal in January how we're going to handle that.
Scott: Cool. I was wondering if Narisa is still there if she wanted to kind of tell us how Feast in Boston works. Well maybe she's not still there.
Narisa: Can you hear me guys?
Scott: Yeah I can hear you.
Narisa: Sorry I actually ran out for a few minutes I was supposed to meet someone so I kind of missed a chunk of this and just jumped backed on a minute ago. But if you want to – what did you want me to talk about a little more? Sorry I just…
Scott: Everyone's sort of just been kind of explaining how things how it works in their own specific context and bringing up stuff that works, stuff that we're still trying to figure out how to do better and things like that. So I just figured since you're someone else who is doing a project like this you could give us a little nugget to talk.
Narisa: There's four of us there kind of organizing it and myself and one other graphic designers and the two others are more involved in machine projects around Boston and we got together. And after hearing about the Feast in Brooklyn they went down and visited it, this is really amazing, we've heard about it in other cities, did some research and we had our first one here. And we've had three so far and the last one was definitely successful. We reached out to I think six local farms and they got really into it and they donated all of the food. Local breweries have been working with us and donating beer for the night.
So it's become this really kind of feud oriented event along with like an artist kind of excited. And I think we're trying to kind of figure out like where that line is. Some people come just for the food and some people are there just for the projects. And we want to make sure that it's for both. We the first couple where about 15 people, and the most recent one was a little over 100, and that atmosphere was really exciting; there was a lot of enthusiasm. And I think one of the hardest things for us is finding enough people to – or people have been really responsive to sending in proposals. We just need to find like a best way to more like ask for proposals. We have posters, we go to different like events and talk about feast but we want to make sure that we connect to as many people as possible in Boston. And we don't want to grow it so big that we can't handle it either. But I don't know.
Scott: Right. That's the other tricky thing that if you grow and let everyone know then not all those people that you told are going to get a grant in the end. I think we were talking about this a little bit earlier about how to sort of solicit people who might not be the most internet savvy or people who just haven't heard about this project how to get them kind of to submit something to it. And we were talking about how a student in Baltimore does it which is by selecting three specific like targeting groups and projects each time they do it and having it stay focused on just those three and entering others, like kind of a [inaudible 1:03:02] fee among the types of projects that are represented. But they're also trying to like get outside of just people they know already. I forget what else I was going to say.
Narisa: Yeah and most of our products have been focusing on something community related even if there are projects and that gives back to the community.
Narisa: So they've gone from just like a mural and kind of an art piece to things that are like more science and things that are just – we want to kind of keep it focused on that. I don't know if that is similar for all of you guys or some of it is more personal projects.
Scott: Right. Well when we did it here in Chicago it was sort of defecto for the most part the projects that ended up winning were sort of like community based collective branded sorts of projects and less individual artists projects. Although we did give out grants to individual arts projects. It was really ever like giving school money so that they could buy paint to help them finish their painting or something that they could eventually sell. So I think that the nature of the event sort of skews towards these kinds of art and show practices versus kind of more traditional individual arts that you practice. I mean we talked about a that a little bit earlier to Chris and was kind of bringing up this point as well. So yeah it's interesting [inaudible 1:04:46] about between all those different things but how many proposals have you had each time you've done it?
Narisa: Last time we had six and I think five each prior time. We were also wondering like if we start – does anyone get more proposals and have to turn them away or get down. Like do they find out having too many is a problem?
Scott: We never did in Chicago but it sounded like that has been a problem for Feast in Brooklyn before and I think Kate was saying that the way they dealt with it was just by taking the first 10.
Kate: Yeah we got nearly 30 at the first [inaudible 1:05:35] which was crazy. But yeah we put the first [inaudible 1:05:39] it was still too many proposals. But yea it's really hard because I think in Brooklyn are they collected 32 and it's just way too much information for people to properly – so you don't even know what you're voting for.
Kristin: We send some of the Grand Rapids.
Kate: Yeah we'll send you some artist no worries.
Brice: So if you guys were to imagine that a local, oh I don't know art economy could be completely sustained by Soup Granting events, how many of them would you have to do and how would you do it differently or would you just say that's just so impossible that it's really not the point for us thinking about it part of the point.
Kate: I think we have seven other ones.
[Audio breaking up]
Brice: Yeah totally. It would have to turn it into someone's job you know and that's always the sticky question like when does running one of these projects stop being a volunteer thing that you do for fun because it helps you get the answers to some questions that you've had as maybe a person that works in our administration or is about to or when does it stop being that or when does it start being like a serious obligation like other people rely on in which in fact it would help for it to be a job for you that you got paid to divert time to and energy and everything.
It's like this tricky transition that seems like having sort of people less for us here in Chicago but more for places where like over 100 people show up that's like talking to me to think about cooking through and orchestrating this meal for over 100 people. Because when we did it in Chicago the most people we ever had that could just even literally fit into our spaces like 40 and that kind of just made us crazy. And that many people we just didn't know how to handle it because we weren't the best at like running a restaurant basically. So yeah that's the dilemma I guess. Sorry I don't have an answer.
Scott: That's totally cool yeah. I mean I'm just curious because that's – I mean the soup method or project method [inaudible 1:08:43] proposal itself. I mean it's not really one you would propose at a Sunday Soup but…
Abby: Yeah. I don't know I mean I guess I just always think about it as if Sunday Soup is just like one like marker in the public conversation about what would be a supportive infrastructure for artist. Because I don't really see just as Brice said there's so much energy that goes into making these things happen and everybody bringing all these bringing like people together and reaching out to the correct people and all that. And trying to create I don't know as much diversity in your event as possible and all that kind of stuff.
Like Sunday Soup to me does not seem to be the answer to any of those things but it does seem like a way to create a space to have a kind of active engagement with those questions. So I guess for me what would feel really awesome is not just that that Sunday Soup replicates itself and continues to replicate itself because I think that it seems like really accessible and people are doing really amazing things with it, but also that other projects kind of can grow out of it and be tested out. Different kinds of fundraising initiatives like different kind of ways of getting together and supporting each other. And I guess I don't know, again, like I don't have an answer for that but I really don't think that – like I think it's awesome to get together and cook these meals with people, but then if you get burnt out then hand it over to someone else or just like try a different way of solving the same problem which is kind of a collective problem.
Female: The partnering with local breweries and local farms seems like a good answer to all sorts of things compared to the energy that it takes to put on things. I might be doing that like every other week, or not every other week but every other session of the soup event.
Scott: Great. Good point. And Abby and Brice I don't know if it's the time to talk about that now but just sense you mentioned it again maybe I at least want to bookmark it for a little bit later. I really like to hear at some point about what that transition is like for you guys going from a group that was based in a space to a group that's really not geo located at all. I mean you're somewhere.
Abby: Yeah. But you know I just exist on the internet.
Scott: Right. Exactly you're virtual. But I mean like where you don't have a space anymore. Yeah but you live in different cities and you still operate together, at least for the time being, and potentially in the foreseeable future. And I guess it's an interesting transition that I know a number of people have gone through some successfully and some not successfully.
Scott: And we've be sort of quasi going through it ourselves in a way, in different ways. But I'd be interested to hear about that because I know it can relate to many other things that you're involved in but I think it can also relate to the Sunday Soup thing since like you said you guys have kind of stopped doing this.
Brice: Right. Well one thing is Abby and I both live in Chicago she's just in Milwaukee for the weekend that's confusing.
Scott: Oh yeah it kind of was for a sec. I was like hey are you in Milwaukee.
Abby: Yes. No I don't live in Milwaukee no I just…
Brice: And so since this summer Abby and I have actually been working at the same nonprofit gallery and press it's going to close at the end of the month so none of us will be working there anymore. But on the point of like this thing about Sunday soup not being the answer to everything but maybe like a training ground for people eventually move into our admin jobs or to have other jobs in the control section and bring the kind of values and lessons they've learned with them doing these few base microgramming projects with them as they do. I feel like that was true for us in our jobs at this gallery that we've been working at.
We invented a process of planning this CSA Art Fundraiser that Abby's going to do at another gallery in town now. But I feel like in all the conversations we had running up to planning doing that thing they were all sort of like all the language we were using were like languages that we've learned in doing Sunday Soup and the values that we sort of realized we shared by doing Sunday Soup. So I think even if these meals don't solve like the art echo system problems of the cities in which they're located they can hopefully give the people that run them the tools to help solve those problems that makes them move onto other sort of professional jobs. So that's maybe one way to answer the question of how we work together now that we don't have the space like literally work together as a job.
Scott: Brice have you guys – maybe you guys should add like an arts administration placement section to the Web site.
Scott: Like try to infiltrate all arts administrations with soupers. Yeah sorry. I just talked I accidentally Abby I didn't hear what you said.
Abby: Oh I said we're going to help other people get jobs.
Scott: Yeah, yeah totally.
Scott: I mean like…
Brice: I don't know if we can get people jobs but actually this idea of like having people on the inside all over the place like people who are part of like Free Masons or something. This other thing that we started planning working together at this gallery arts administration conference that is most likely going to be happening next October hopefully gathering like minded people I guess like other people who run these projects together as a conference on like radical arts administration or like unconventional arts administration and finding who all those people are around the US and bringing them together in one place. And then just sort of all leaving and going back again, but all of a sudden having this sort of like professional network of people that is sort of called into existence or sort of recognized by having a kind of conference like this too. So I think that's another way to kind of work together with people in different physical spaces but who also share similar values and principles with us as well.
Abby: Yeah because I think that like I wouldn't have known that there was this like – I feel like a really wide network of artists that are working collectively that are doing socially engaged practices. And all of those things are like if we hadn't started just open the space and just been like what's out there. And Sunday Soup really enabled a kind of larger understanding of it or a picture of like how people are working. And so I don't know in that sense like I think we're really interested in creating resources so that people like us don't have to just ram at the wheel all the time or thinking through the idea of like, okay here's some alternate fundraising projects that have already happened that you can learn from and then make a better model.
Here's another way that somebody else organized the residency program in their home. Here's like the history of artist run basis like in Philadelphia or in Chicago or in Minneapolis. Just so that because it feels like when you have all this energy to start these projects you're just like, yes I'm doing the most important thing in the world, which is a really awesome energy to have and I feel like we had it when we started Soup. But I think also like to think about what those next steps are going to be as we like want to hold the same ethic that we started with but really take stock of like what our professional groups are going to be and be like realistic about like that we need to make money just to support ourselves or just sort of thinking through that process.
And so, yeah as Brice said, we're going to be doing a conference next October it's going to happen through us. It's doing that thing where it's about how do you learn your local history, what are some pragmatic strategies that people are applying to artist run spaces, and/or like unconventional nonprofits and how can we, yeah, like make more visible that network of people and also how can we create mentoring structures so that like generationally there's like a learning process happening so that it's not just these things popup and then they fade away, which is the whole sustainability thing. Like I don't really care I'm really happy that I'm not doing soup anymore I was really happy to do it, and I might do it again in the future, but it's like if there is a kind of continued conversation through all these different passageways or whatever, I don't know, if that feels good.
And I think InCUBATE had this really intense flurry of activity for the first three years that we were doing it because we were all in grad school, and then we're like okay well what's the next step? Like we were very particular about saying this is a nonprofit this is about a learning process for us. And then how do we be realistic about where this is going to go like we didn't want to throw rent parties every month or we couldn't run this residency program where we had somebody new coming into town that we would have to facilitate a project for no money. All that stuff which was so awesome and great just like felt like we needed to take a break from it and be honest about that. And respond to our own particular living situations and needs and career and all that stuff. So yeah so I don't know we're trying to figure it out basically.
Scott: Yeah I think basically 90% of what you just said is something that's like I think as you said an ongoing interest that we share.
Abby: It looks like on the text chat too there's a question about a nationwide soup grid or a nationwide day of getting together or like a soup summit or something. And I guess that seems like a good thing to discuss if anybody is interested in doing that like if that sounds like a good thing to do.
Scott: Like that one soup every so often would be something where you would just every soup instance would contribute the funds that they make on like pick to pay hollow line and everyone would get some kind of, I don't know, unrateable vote.
Abby: Yeah totally I'd be into that.
Brice: Yeah. Like what would be some other things that could be – oh yeah Stephen's like soup should be internationalist. And it kind of is there are soups in Italy and there's one that one worked in New Castle for awhile and there's one in Cev and Ukraine, and there's been a few one off events in other places in Eastern Europe that have been helped out a lot by Roman, one of our members whose been traveling around a lot there. But I'd be kind of curious to hear what some other ideas for like a national or like an international day where everyone sort of hosted a meal. Some other things that we could do like aside from like I'll pool the money from every single place and give it away to one project somewhere and everybody in every place puts on like the same international proposals, or what other stuff could be done to make it more interesting to make it more visible, to make it more like sort of dynamic and democratic and all that sort of stuff? I'd be curious to like brainstorm.
Kate: I was sort of thinking about the like celebrity call in telethon as soon as you started talking about this where you got like towards [inaudible 1:22:28]. I don't think this was a good idea but we're having this national day of [inaudible 1:23:37] and everybody's going to talk to celebrities on like the telethon. But I think it would be really interesting to the way like links artist project nationwide or international even like we're all doing it on one day.
Scott: Yeah you really have to pass it by anyone. I men except just the other soupers to call in international soup day just to sort of say it. Secondly I think the process that we were talking about before that's come up in bits and pieces past chat and this chat be of the utmost importance. Because the way that it's structured right now there's a lot of leeway because each instance they setup their won structure. And there's a lot of wiggle room because the experimentation is firewalled locally. But if it's something that everyone involved is sharing. And somehow in order to experiment with the structure of it you have to do it a number of times. If it was so periodic say once a year or twice a year or something like that I think the meaning that that carries out seems to speak for everyone and it may have wide implications. It looks like I'm stopping.
Brice: And just phrased firewall locally it's very net savvy of you.
Female: I think it would be interesting too if every program or city had one project that's representative and then one project that's selected I feel like there would be the pulling together that would happen that would be taking the web further as far as making us one group.
Abby: Or in that sense.
Kate: It'll sort be like the Olympics.
Abby: Yeah. So like each group would nominate a representational body like our project, like a representation project of that group.
Scott: Say like a delegation.
Abby: Yeah maybe we should do it at this topic.
Scott: Guys I think that the Web site if you want to prepare for this George could setup, if you haven't already in a way that's not publically linkable, setup some kind of a forum just to tease out these discussions in a way that can be a little more asynchronous so people can sort of take their time thinking about different points and really build a kind of – I don't know if you actually want to build a consensus to decide how something like that could be setup, but at the very least that talking it out. I forget exactly who was saying it, maybe it was Kristin, but one way or the other it was about how it is dealt with before voting for each project there was like a really talking about together. I think the decision about soup has an overall project.
At the moment like I said before it really at this point are kind of preventive from really happening in an internationalist way because it's a bunch of localized events that are very loosely affiliated. But if in no other instance besides this one periodic international soup mix or whatever or soup-a-bowl in that instance then there is a kind of, not necessarily viable, but like a potential – oh I don't know there's some kind of power structure there where there's some kind of soft organization going on. So I guess my point is ultimately I guess it's whoever's building a Web site. I'm kind of going all over the place here because I'm getting interrupted, but basically my point is if there was some way to have a ongoing conversation about these very specific things for if nothing else for an instance of that kind of just every so often grouping event then I think that would be a really great thing to host on a site.
Brice: Yeah I think so too because it was only released last week or the week before last where Abby and I sat down and like these are remaining sort of like sister projects that we weren't aware of yet. And we haven't talked to everyone that runs a project like this. We don't even know the names of some of the people who do these things. So it would absolutely be super helpful to like all get together and talk about this stuff sometime. And we should throw out the number which are or have been 37 different projects like this happening in the US and in Eastern/Western Europe. So that's like the kind of amazing number that's sprouted up in the past a couple of years of people doing this kind of stuff which is to me one of the most awesome things to be able to like modify in that number of 37. So yeah. What's going on in the chat right now?
Scott: Oh I was just responding to one thing that George had said.
Brice: Oh okay tech question.
Scott: In fact you might remember that I brought up the same point during the We Want More Conference and I think there was some support during the conference but it really didn't kind of work out that way. But I didn't actually want to send it to a tech discussion because, I don't know, I'm only really interested in tech by the way when it serves some other need. And yeah like what Abigail said exactly like stuff gets lost in your Inbox. It's been quite awhile since we've talked with people – yeah George cool. But you know about this particular issue but it was a huge concern for us for the longest time.
Most of you on this chat know that we have posted a number of mailing lists and I've gone over this question again and again yet we used to use forums. And we also had done experimentation specifically parents have done this with us and other people have done this experiments integrating forms and mailing list so every time you have a mailing post it also goes into a correct kind of – oh I don't k now order in a forum so that you have discussions. And that seems to be very helpful because about half the people ask still, which is infinitely weird to me because technology keeps changing, like half o you guys are on your iPhone still prefer email stuff because it's just a tried and true or something that you do or you do it on the go.
Scott: And other people really just hate getting stuff in their Inbox and really just delete it as soon as it's there they don't care and really prefer to spend their time doing the stuff online, whether it's in a forum or in some kind of an IRC chat or whatever. Yeah Greg right exactly. So I mean I think the thing is for people that like email often they have their laptops or whatever on the train or on the plane or wherever they're in some remote area where they're not really at home all the time. And it's helpful for them because they think through their thoughts, they can type it all out – and I'm almost done with this by the way guys – and send it off in this kind of hairdryer or whatever that takes a little while for each person to think out their position.
Scott: Anyway I guess forums are very similar but I guess my point is like people who like forums more are people who have day jobs where they're online all the time.
Scott: Or who have a lot of free time and they're just constantly connected to a laptop or something. Yeah exactly like it's part of something you always do George. Yeah exactly. But like if they're tied then it sort of takes care of everybody that has a computer anyway not everybody.
Abby: Yeah. I mean yeah I don't know. I understand that obviously there's all these – I'm totally not tech savvy at all nor do I spend a lot of time on the internet – but email seems to work really like seem much more accessible to people. And I don't know yeah. But I like the idea of forums because I feel like I'm saying to myself that check-in notice particular place and read a bunch of thoughts. And it's not yeah it doesn't feel like I would get confused if it was all integrated with my work email, my InCUBATE email and personal stuff and all that kind of thing. So I'm for forums. I'm on the forum team.
Brice: Me too it's on the forum, team forum even though I obsessively label and sort and cleanout my Inbox the less of that stuff the better.
Abby: Yeah cool.
Scott: So guys we have four minutes left until we end this generally. Did anybody have any other – I guess I was just thinking if anybody had any burning things that they wanted to bring out to bookmark for next time or to start a conversation or to add?
Female: How are you guys coming?
Kate: I had one. The one thing that soon came up in Philly is that we [inaudible 1:34:07] by doing an event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And Teresa I don't think we actually polled aggressively group this because we were like so we didn't want to get into it necessarily, but it was a very interesting moment of sort of like would that be part of the magnet or are we working with the big [inaudible 1:34:33] or are we doing them. I brought up this whole really interesting tandem forum of sort of like where are we situated in sort of artworld. Yeah and they won't let you in the gallery there. But like it was just a very interesting sort of collection of like how we do we respond to that and what do we want to do and sort of led us back to that question that Abigail was talking a lot about [inaudible 1:35:07] and stuff like that so we immediately have a art institution and kind of wanting to make the public program by the way. It was interesting.
Scott: It depends if you have similarities.
Kate: It killed the idea by the way.
Scott: I was redundant there but it depends on if you have somehow that you think who's sort of an inside – like someone who's on the inside to be an ally. Because I think Brice you guys were just talking about is that part of what you're interested in is this process of instituting within art administrative systems.
Brice: Exactly infiltrate.
Scott: So I wanted to mention this one thing. I typed it in the chat but nobody responded and if you can like hear over the raspberries here. And I'll just read this out so that I don't lose my train of thought and take too long because we have one minute. I mentioned earlier that part of that Plausible Art System that recipe book for ways of world making or whatever, we haven't actually entitled it that but that's how we often refer to it to publish next year and it would be really great if you would – I mean we intend all of these weekly guests to be part of this publication if we didn't already make that obviously, but since the soup network is like so many people it'll be often if you guys would consider talking about this amongst yourselves when you do about contributing a recipe section for that publication.
Brice: Yeah totally.
Abby: It sounds great to me.
Brice: Yeah. That would be awesome right. I would just wanted to know how we can contribute that thing?
Scott: It sort of makes a lot of sense in least in like overly silly way but it could be really also helpful too because…
Abby: Yeah for sure.
Brice: Yeah that would be great.
Scott: And Narisa I have no idea seriously it was just a thought that Stephen and I were just sort of chatting about on another channel so I thought I'd bring it up while we're all listening.
Brice: Well thanks for letting us talk about this everyone and thanks to everyone who joined us and kind of shared about their own projects. It was really nice to hear from everyone.
George: Can I say one last thing about the site?
George: So most people who signup I try to follow-up in person to see if they need any help. I haven't done that recently but I'm way up for helping in any way adding your projects in your proposals and racing to the site. I'm not afraid of data entry if you want to put some of that on me. I'm really excited about seeing all the content so I'm here to help if there's any problems. And I'll stick my emails in the chat.
Abby: Thanks George.
Scott: Awesome George. Who has closing music or should I just put on something.
Brice: Maybe some more raspberries.
Scott: Hey Parker can you play some more raspberries for us. Bye everybody see you next time.
This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
This week we’ll be talking with Gaye Chan and Nandita Sharma about the Hawaii-based artist collective ‘Eating In Public’.
Since 2003, Eating in Public has, among other projects, engaged in ‘remakng the commons’. Drawing on the example of the 17th century Diggers, the group began planting papaya seedlings on public land – ‘public’ land, not ‘common’ land. As they explain, ‘in doing so, we broke the existing laws of the state that delineate this space as “public” and thereby set the terms for its use. Our act has two major purposes: one is to grow and share food; the other is to problematize the concept of “public” within public space.’ In a scrupulously well-documented and lively narrative, the group describes the challenges to their attempts at ‘commoning’ in a society where every legal provision has been made to prevent it. The first papaya crop was eventually uprooted before the trees bore fruit, and the land fenced off. The group has subsequently shifted its strategy to another commons: the Internet, where they have set up FreeBay, an on-line service something like eBay, with the notable exception that everything is free – including papaya seedlings.
Nomoola is thus explicitly interested in promoting — and testing the plausibility of — a truly “free world”, something which Plausible Artworlds has also been examining over the past six months. “Free” as in freewheeling. Free, certainly, from asking the powers that be for ‘permission’ to develop a growing chain of free stores where anyone and everyone can leave or take goods. Free as in freedom — pointing to those common spaces tolerably free from the logic of capital, in the very midst of capitalist society itself.
This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
This week we’ll be talking with Salem Collo-Julin, one of the founders of Art Work.
Artwork is “a national conversation about art, labor, and economics” — a conversation that takes the form of a website and a free, 40-page newspaper comprised of writings and images from artists, activists, writers, critics, and others on the topic of working within toady’s depressed economies and how that impacts artistic process, compensation and artistic property. Freely downloadable, the newspaper “asks us all to consider how to use this moment to do several things: to work for better compensation, to get opportunities to make art in diverse and challenging settings, and to guide art attitudes and institutions, on all levels, in more resilient directions. It is also an examination of the power that commercial practices continue to wield and the adverse effects this has had on artists, education, and our collective creative capacity.”
Art Work was conceived and produced by Temporary Services, an Illinois-based group formed in 1998, which, over the years has produced a wide variety of exhibitions, events, projects, and publications.
Temporary Services, along with the help of SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, have distributed over 10,000 copies of Art Work internationally since its initial publication in November 2009. Recipients of these free copies have been encouraged to create their own programming using the themes in Art Work as a starting point. Many of the events, talks, and exhibitions that have resulted are available to view at http://www.artandwork.us/category/events/
As well as looking closely at the Art Work project and the work of Temporary Services that produced it, tonight’s conversation may be a good occasion to touch on a phenomenon that appears recurrent amongst “plausible artworlds” — that is, their propensity to engender or fructify other artworlds. This would seem to raise a series of further questions: What are plausible artworlds’ mode of reproduction? What kind of “family resemblance” can be observed? Is there a lineal — or even patrilineal or matrilineal — relationship between Temporary Services and Art Work, amongst other examples? Or is the relationship not more “avuncular” — introducing a shift, like the knight’s move in chess — meaning that Art Work might better be seen as Temporary Services’s nephew?
Week 26: Art Work
(Opening greetings and chatters)
[Scott]: Hey Salem, can you hear us okay?
[Salem]: Yeah. You're a little soft. I'm going to try and bring you up. Hey everybody, like always, those of you that are on this all the time knows that if you're not talking mute on your call which will help everybody here. And then, if you want to talk you can just butt in and text on the chat and let us know.
[Scott]: Awesome. Yeah. So uh, we're really psyched to talk with Salem this week about the Art Work publication. A national conversation about art labor and economics. And we have a ton of copies here. But Salem, you'll actually be slightly, I'm not really sure what to know that we have them stuck in storage. At a certain point in the conversation, I'm going to run and dig them out because I didn't realize that happened two nights ago. So, um, so yeah, we actually have a bunch of copies here that we'll pass out to everybody. At least before or somewhere in the middle before you leave. But in any case, yeah, we're really interested in this and really interested in this network of events that have taken place around this single publication that a bunch of people have contributed too.
So, I thought it might be good, rather than giving a long introduction, to just ask you to describe the publication a little bit, Salem? If you're down with that? Oops, can you hear me? Oh no! Did I drop Salem (laughing)? I think so, okay, hold on a second.
[Scott]: Yeah we'll just wait for Salem. (Laughter, reading text) "Cat pulled the plug, be back on in a second" (laughing). Okay, we'll try here back as soon as her computer gets back up and running. Its real world stuff, cats.
Okay, yeah, for everybody who wasn't in the chat earlier on, here's the link to the Art Work publication website. You can at least browse it while we're waiting for Salem to get back online.
And, uh, if you didn't catch a link where we sort of reiterate some of what's on that site and sort of describe a little bit about how we think it fits into the Plausible Artworlds or sort of embodies some of that, there's this.
And, there she is...
[Salem]: Okay, I'm back.
[Scott]: So, let's reintroduce Salem again (laughing). That was pretty awesome. So if you don't mind if I share this Salem.
[Salem]: Yeah, please.
[Scott]: (Reading text) "Cat pulled the plug, be back on in a second bwahahaha". So yeah, this is good times. We have two cats here too but just not in the front space.
So yeah, so we're welcoming Salem from, who is part of a group called Temporary Services based in Chicago. Also part of a lot of other initiatives. Temporary Services and Salem are responsible for instigating the Art Work publication, which I've just sent you guys some links too, and which has sprung up conversations about art and economics all over the country. Mostly in the US, right Salem?
[Salem]: Yeah, it's mostly in the US, but in the first couple of months that it was out into the world it was brought over to a small annual of sorts in Amsterdam. So, it's been elsewhere in Europe, um, trying to get it to some people in Australia and Asia as well. Um, but the, we'll talk about it in a second, the contributors are from the US and Puerto Rico and we, along with Spaces Gallery in Ohio, made a concerted effort to get copies into every single state as well as Puerto Rico when it came out. So, there have been free copies available everywhere since then.
[Scott]: Yeah. I don't know if you caught this part Salem, but you know that Spaces sent us like 500 copies and we have them but I'm going to take a break probably while we're conversing somewhere in the middle to go and dig them out of storage because we just did a push to do a big cleanup at BaseKamp and I didn't realize that they were among the things that got stuck into the storage loft. So, I'm going to have to dig them out. So, uh, sorry about that. But everyone here will have actual copies to give to you so you can check it out.
[Scott]: But yeah, so I was just sailing, not sailing, SAYING that rather than giving a longer intro, I want to just kind of ask you, if you don't mind Salem since you've probably done this a lot over the course of the year, do just give us a brief intro to the project?
[Salem]: Sure. I am a member of temporary services, which many of you know is a group of three people; myself and Brett Bloom and Mark Fisher. We have been collaborating on public projects and publications since 1998. Mark and I are based in Chicago and Brett will be based in Denmark soon, he is currently and Albania, Illinois. We were approached by spaces gallery in Cleveland Ohio in their early part of the summer of last year to see if we would be able to participate in the exhibition series there and do something with them. We decided that from the support that they were offering us, it would be a really good thing if we could figure out some way to extend the money that we were getting for the exhibition and also the people support that they could offer us into something that would last longer than just that short exhibition time and that would reach farther than just the people who were able to go to Cleveland to see the show. And they were excited to work with us on that, and that's kind of the way the Temporary Services has worked in the last few years. We see it as one of the, one of the responsibilities of groups and individual artists that are in a position, when you start getting opportunities, it's our responsibility to share that in some way with other people whose work that we admire for one reason or another who are maybe not getting the same opportunity. And then we also have a love of collaboration, working with more than just our group of three. So that came into play in making us.
So the newspaper itself, I think all of you probably got the PowerPoint that I sent through scribed website. But if you're not seeing it, I think that someone can copy you are all in the chat box again. I think I can do that in a second. The first slide is what the cover of the newspaper itself looks like.
[Scott]: Um, say when we are actually looking for that right now. Give us just a second.
[Salem]: I'll copy and paste it.
[Scott]: Oh I see it. But if you have it, that's fine.
[Salem]: I have it. OK, there you go.
[Scott]: Thank you.
[Salem]: Um, so we have this love of publication. It's something that Temporary Services has done along with every project that we've done thus far. It started with just doing a real copy paste and Xerox kind of booklet that a company made our first exhibition at temporary services the space back in 1998. And we have just continue that tradition and we are doing, the three of us who are in the group now all had a background of doing zines, of doing independent publications. So self publishing is something that comes from far back for all of us. So making a publication like this isn't too far of a stretch for us. It's not too much of a challenge to think about. But since we've had a little bit of time and more support than normal, we really wanted to do something pretty spectacular. Um, also at the same time that we got this invitation we were in the middle of the economic situation that all of us in the states are in still, which is the depression, and it's affecting people in all fields. Not as people who make art, but people who do other kinds of creative things in their lives and people who work in other kinds of fields. I think all fields are creative, I think people are connected by the same problems and hopes and work really. So artists are not living in a vacuum and we're all affected by these kinds of economic situations. And one thing that was frustrating us a little bit about the situation in the states here is that we're carrying a lot of people, you know, quietly talking about the same experiences. You know, someone had planned on doing a publication and then the money ran out. Someone had been working for a couple of years for an institution like a college or something like that and their position was dependent upon some sort of grant funding and then their money ran out so suddenly they don't have a job. (Inaudible 0:12:15.0) and we would hear of people having these kinds of discussions quietly, you know. And the conclusions were always like "oh that's too bad, what can you due for work blah blah blah". We thought it might be a good time for people to start having these kinds of conversations publicly and for other people to really get a sense of others who work in the same ways that they do. And others who also (inaudible0:12:46.1) are artists who may be not be working in exactly the same spaces or using the same techniques that they do. We thought it might be good for all of us to gather together and compare notes basically and see what we could come up with out of that.
So if you will go to the next page of the presentation, for those of you who haven't used scribed the button that says "next page" on the bottom of it, especially not too hard. For some reason I thought I (inaudible0:13:27.9) but I don't. So great. All right, so, we set off on publishing this newspaper, you can see files of them at that space. Oh, Robert (inaudible 0:13:42.5) is calling me.
[Scott]: Yeah, um, hey guys if you get extra calls don't pick them up (laughing). It's too easy for anyone who gets dropped off the call to press the little green button. There's nothing we can do about it except for ignore it and add them back. So, in, it will add lots of confusion. So, sorry to interrupt, but its better than fracturing the conversation too much.
[Salem]: no, no, no, it's totally fine. And for those of you who haven't participated in a Skype chat like this before, it does get kind of frazzled and stuff like that. So I should say right off the bat that if you miss anything or have any questions feel free to type on the check box if you don't feel comfortable talking. If you want to talk, you can interrupt me. And if you would rather talk after this in a less texty setting or something like that, you can feel free to email me or really you can give me a call if you'd like. I try to sleep as much as possible but, you know, I will try to return your voice mail.
All right, so, back to the little presentation online here. So we set out to try to talk to as a diverse of a group of people as possible about this. And I know that means different things in different contexts. Diversity it means a lot of different things depending on the nature of the project that you were working on as well as who we were already working with and the kinds of things that you were setting up to do. For the oftenest context, really the biggest part of it was making sure that we replicated something that anybody is familiar with. Plausible Artworlds, the banner underneath which the Skype chat has happened, would be what you were familiar with. We are trying to get a lot of people to contribute to this publication that came from diverse parts of what we all refer to as the art world. You know, some of us within the group are academics as well as artists. We will teach sometimes for our money. Some of us, we kinda had a quick chat about that on the chat box before I started talking, some of us will do extra outside activities for our money and different kinds of capacities. Some jobs there may be vastly considered liked working class jobs vs. white collar jobs. We can talk later about whether or not those things really apply in this economy. For us it was really important to make sure that we got a diversity of kinds of artists as well. Here in Chicago there are some people who have commercial galleries and they're very involved and the local commercial gallery system who don't necessarily go to an event such as Chicago's (inaudible 0:16:47.6) where there is more of an experimental event, there's a lot of talking that goes on, where there is more of an artist academic (inaudible 0:16:58.2) is sometimes represented there. There's people produce street are here in Chicago who were not connected to any of the other places that have mentioned already. You know, they are not students, they are not teachers, they are not interested in some of the social justice components that of the work that they do. They're just putting their work into public spaces. So we find all of this variety of ways of expression of people who call themselves artists. We really wanted to make sure that if there was some, that there was some representation of a lot of different kinds of people. The biggest part of it was that we felt that, you know, in this economy everyone is affected. Every single job is affected. You know, and we all affect each other's work whether or not we want to. What Temporary Services does in some way indirectly affects what happens in a commercial gallery, which affects what happens in a nonprofit gallery. You know, I'm not trying to create a hierarchy there like they all affect each other at the same time. But I think you get the gist.
So there is 40 pages on paper, it's a variety of articles written by people of personal experiences as well as some history. There is a timeline that we edited together. A variety of different art projects and publications and writings about art and labor and different economic forms that we found. There are images from a lot of different kinds of people. And so it's a variety things. One of the things that we found that brought everything together is that when we first asked people to contribute in some way, people were interested and those who ended up contributing express some sort of worry about their personal situations. Quietly to us, like "just between you and I, it was great to write this piece and collaborate with you since I've been dealing with this stuff on my own and in the town I'm in for a while". And it was funny that those who couldn't contribute, because we… I fail to mention that in the beginning of the summer we had to go to (inaudible 0:19:50.0) in September so this was a really quick turnaround and we were publishing a 10,040 page paper and we had to get people to get things into us within two months, which was ridiculous.
[Scott]: Yeah, that's sick Salem.
[Salem]: Yeah, with that kind of a deadline it was kind of hard I think on our contributors. It makes me even prouder that people were able to bring so much stuff into it. But I did notice that the people who couldn't contribute at the beginning, and also in September, so that when we were just going through our final edit all of them had the same, you know, " I've got too much work. I've got this work and it had to take on this extra job. I have to take my kid that earlier than normal because they can't pay for the child care that I was able to pay for last year" so we heard those things over and over again. So it's really striking to us at the same people were in the same boat. Which is something that, I think from talking from people who lived through the great depression era as they called in the thirties here in the states, people will say "well everybody was poor. Everyone had a garden for the food, not just for the luxury of having an organic garden. We had to grow our own food because there was not enough to go around". And so you have that kind of sensibility and I think that part of having artwork was an attempt to normalize the situation, at least for ourselves to understand that we are all in the same boat and we all need to recognize that we can work together ports making real changes in whatever our communities were working in.
So this picture in this Scribe publication, you can see...
[Scott]: Which slide are you on? Sorry Salem, which slide?
[Salem]: I'm sorry, it's still slide two.
[Salem]: On the left hand side there is a photograph of the piles of newspapers at Spaces. And then on the right hand side, is the three C's I think that sometimes they collaborate on. Chris Kennedy, Carolyn Mallard and Cassidy Thorton on the far right there, were three people who all contributed to the newspaper and different articles but also the three of them had the audacity to ask us if they could publish it right away. Carolyn has been invited to do the media arts bi-annual in the Netherlands so she actually facilitated the first printing of that. If you got a copy from her I can tell you there are at least six typos in that version of it. And then we printed the completely copy edited version about two weeks later in Cleveland. So just a copy editor in me wants to let you know that (laughing).
Let's move on to the next page.
[Scott]: Well Salem, to me that seems like such a tight deadline. One thing that Jessica was just mentioning, if you don't mind me saying, is that in the world of arts writing the invitations can be even shorter, you know. Like," can you read this article for us in a week or two weeks"? So, what am I trying to say? Its still seems really cramped to me. But that's actually totally awesome because we're actually happy to give people really short deadlines for invites. So I guess I don't feel like such a jerk (laughing).
[Salem]: I don't know, I thought it was a really tight deadline but people really stepped up to the plate with what they gave us. And we gave ourselves maybe two weeks to edit. Chris Lynn from Spaces, actually I think he found the chat tonight, he and his partner were actually do in our last minute proof reading for us like two days before we went to print and caught a tremendous amount of things that the three of us had completely missed. So, you know, it's only by the grace of group work that something like that happened and I think…
[Scott]: Who was helping with that did you say?
[Salem]: Christopher Lynn is Director for Spaces and who is currently…
[Scott]: Who is on the chat? All I see. Hi Christopher!
[Salem]: Yeah who was on the chat?
[Christopher]: Hey guys!
[Salem]: Hi Chris (laughing). So I...
[Salem]: So I think that it's definitely a lot of, and I will talk about the distribution part in a little bit. I me this is the way the temporary Services Works and a lot of ways our projects (inaudible 0:25:15.0) inventions, which I know some of you know about. It couldn't have come to publication without the work of about 20 people, you know, not including ourselves and Angela, our collaborator on that. So, you know, we're kind of use to the idea that other people are great collaborators on any project that we can do. But yet, back to the editing part of it. I think that having such a tight deadline made us feel like we're going to lose some people, and we did. Some people were able to do the turnaround because of jobs or other things or projects that they were working on in that kind of stuff. I think people will publish like a regular publications like newspapers and magazines and stuff like that, that they take that into account and just try to get somebody for the next time. But there seems to be an urgency for us to do that. Like this was the right time for us to do this, the right time to instigate such a conversation and the right invitation to do so.
We had a lot of support from Spaces at the beginning for us to make this happen and actually Chris is also, I should say, Chris Lynn helped us put together the artandwork.us website which some of you may have looked out already or will be looking at soon. It turned out to be a great (inaudible 0:26:54.3) to have alongside the newspaper for those who were able to find a free copy or not able to get a copy for themselves. You can download a copy for free off of the website as a PDF or you can download it straight to your of mobile reading device. You know, your IWhatever, your Amazon, your women on the Moon things or whatever it might be you can get a copy that way to if you like reading that way.
[Scott]: Awesome Salem. Hey can I ask you a quick question?
[Salem]: Yeah please.
[Scott]: Just, I mean, not to stumble over anyone else who might have one. If you do definitely just say something or type and or just flag is down if you are here. I was curious about how you guys got the conversations rolling in different cities. You know, because the idea is that's what will happen here throughout the rest of this year and maybe in a couple of different sessions starting at a certain point maybe in combination with some kind of an installation or exhibition or what you want to call a visual presentation of this project that seems to draw people, which we will be helping with your. How did you guys get that rolling? Did you have any, oh I don't know, success stories or sort of tactics that seem to work okay? That, you know what I mean, that worked in different places so maybe is reproducible. Um, did you just kind of hang out with people? You know, talk with them?
[Salem]: (laughing) the first thing that we did was... I should back up and explain part of the idea of this newspaper is that it's a catalyst for other stuff that can happen in your own community and in your own city or town or whatever, whichever way you organize yourself. We really wanted people to do that and so when we went through the process of finding people who would be distribution points for us and type of distributors and, in a way, and let those people know and ask them permissions and a lot of times for us to just send them free copies of the newspaper and explain to them that they could distribute those to people or spaces and their cities or areas for free. We kind of planted the seed with and that's we are interested in people using the scenes in the paper as jumping plates for making their own conversation. We really wanted people to see that there are people from all over the States were talking about these issues but also to bring it back to what was going on in their own cities and in their own situations. Whether it be like a college community or whether it be just, you know, neighborhood in a city or what have you. We really wanted people to kind of bring this back to what was going on in their daily lives. Several of the people that we initially distributed to where people within our personal networks and temporary services who we knew were adept at putting together events and exhibitions. Either they were employed by a place that was open space or that they had an experience with us or otherwise doing some sort of public event. So we did kind of pick out people in different states where we thought there might be an interest. In the few states where no one who was involved in the projects had a connection, we reached out to university communities and nonprofit arts centers and experimental art centers. Squat spaces, (inaudible 0:31:15.4) spaces and stuff like that. Places where getting a free newspaper might not be a totally weird kind of prospect.
[Joseph]: Hey Salem?
[Salem]: And then kind of followed through. Go ahead, I'm sorry Scott.
[Joseph] Q: Oh no, it's actually Joseph. Hey Salem. I wanted to just follow up on that kind of lead. It seems to me that one of the really exciting things about the paper is that you were able to bring together so many different things happening across the country whether it be Feast and that kind of incubate guys doing the Sunday Soup or the people kind of protesting in New York. And that kind of moment where you brought them all together and the magazine is a sort of a way to see the whole kind of related activity right? And I'm wondering is if when you get these kinds of event, these exhibits and projects in conversations around the country, if you're kind of like tacking on or parasiting onto existing programming or, do you know what I mean?
[Salem] A: Yeah, I mean, I need to point out that we actually have not… Temporary services did not facilitate the majority of the events and talks and exhibitions that have happened with this artwork. People have contacted us and said "well we got these newspapers and we want to do something", and then they've just done it. So there's maybe only three of them where we've had any included all. Which is exactly what we wanted to happen. Um, and…
[Joseph] Q: Right, but like the people from Wage for example in New York, who I was thinking of, I mean I know that they have been kind of reaching out and trying to establish a network. And I know what kind of relationship you have with them. I know some people sort of feel like on defense of about what they are doing. But I just wonder if you guys, if you talk with them about establishing something through the paper or if the paper was kind of used in some way or appeared at an event of theirs. You know, if you have any sense of that. A start any echoes from that kind of exchange with people who are sort of running parallel organizations.
[Salem] A: Yeah, while one experience that I can talk about first hand is that temporary services also does a separate kind of thing that all three of us run called Temporary Press, which is a web store online as well as a publishing imprint. The three of us are technically not temporary services when we do it, but it's like all three of us own in this business called Path Letter Press and all three of us happen to collaborate as Temporary Services. Just to throw that out there.
There is a similar kind of concern called Ground (inaudible 0:34:09.6) which is this group based out of Boston which a lot of you may be familiar with. And, um, David Morgan who, oh, thanks for the linkage there Scott. David Morgan from Ground Swell, who is an avid blogger and avid Twitterer, as we try to be. Twittererer, Omigod. It's like tinfoil. I can't say that word either. Um, (laughing). You know, he kind of like, he saw the parallels between what they were doing with the journal that they were publishing and our publications and so he has instigated conversations with a couple of different presses. I think maybe Just Seeds is also involved in this where we're all trading stock and trading ideas.
You know, we're all like either cooperative businesses or cooperative partnerships or things like that. None of us are in it to make some sort of profit that's beyond paying back what we put into it. As so we're all in the midst of talking about what ways that we can combine resources for that. And so that is definitely separate from artwork and it didn't necessarily come out of the artwork publication. But it's kind of a conversation that we've had had after this has been out.
You know, I think that I know definitely in Chicago here about several groups that share resources, especially like in terms of AV there have been a couple people here who have instigated kind of these open store rooms where you can borrow equipment. Projectors are like a huge thing, you know, where you can like borrow a projector from one person and use it for your event or what have you. In those little ways, there's always this kind of collaboration around. So, I think um, really what we were hoping with artwork is that something that happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, might collaborate on. Mark was invited to come speak there at one of the universities there as well as speak at (inaudible 0:36:33.1) which is an alternative space, kind of a self run space much like BaseKamp in some ways. And, um, what happened there was when he talked at the alternative space, it turned into a larger discussion of people talking about what was going on in Grand Rapids and there was this kind of sentiment even before Mark, Mark didn't necessarily need to be there for that part of the conversation because he wasn't part of the Grand Rapids community and the things that they'd be talking about. You know, that he could actually weigh in on this as an outside observer but the indecisions that people would want to make together would have to, you know, be true to people who were living in Grand Rapids and doing art in Grand Rapids.
And so now, as far as I know, this is still going on but at that time they were instigated a monthly conversation which is like an open kind of form for anybody who, anybody who, and I think this is the important thing for anyone who self identifies as being part of this conversation as having these issues as important to them. You know, and I think that to me, sounds like a pretty successful model in terms of, you know, you can decide to localize which is a really great way to actually get things done with people that you're living around. But, to also be aware of our own tendency to put people into particular genres and say like "I'm interested in collaborating with people but I don't know if I need to talk to anybody who is involved in the film community because I don't really do film". Well, that's not necessarily true. You probably both have printing needs. You know, you probably both have editing needs for the writing that you do. I mean maybe that's something that you can work on together. There are all kinds of ways that you can make connections with people that you may not necessarily work with on a daily basis in your town. So, to keep it open, to keep these kinds of discussions available to whomever feels the need to show up, is a really big, that kind of shows your community's commitment to actually creating a new idea of change and that kind of thing.
I'm seeing a lot of links on the chat here.
So yeah, I'm like Wolf, who is most of the time based in Chicago, started this AV equipment lending project. That actually, here in Chicago, it's influenced a couple of people to do the same thing with their equipment. There's a non-profit gallery called Three Walls here that also does that kind of quietly, but they have a tremendous amount of equipment and I've borrowed stuff from them just for exhibitions that I've done on the fly and they've been really great about it. So, um, you know, a long time, kind of, I feel Iike I'm getting off on a tangent here so I'll get back to it. But, I mean, a long time technique that those of us in Temporary Services have used is finding somebody who is currently employed by a university who has an AV department and that person will sign out the equipment for you to borrow for the weekend. And then you return it to them so they can return it on their own. There's all these, you know, anybody who has worked in an office knows about the brilliant stuff that you can do extra legally with your office photo copier. You can make a publication which in turn can, you know, completely change lives (laughing) and that kind of stuff. So yeah, all these things are always available.
I did see a question earlier in the chat from Patricia, who was asking if Art Work was like a current version of the 1967 Artwork Coalition. It's kind of funny that's asked because that is written about in Art Work. Um, Art Work itself, I think the main gist of all of the articles is that the way things are is not the way things could be. The way things are doesn't seem to be sustaining the most amounts of people. Um, and the way things are not necessarily working for the most amount of people. So in that, I know that some of the values that the Art Work Coalition had match up with that. But, I would hesitate to say that Art Work as a project has dialectic or has any... I mean, there are lots of different articles, lots of different writers each with their own experiences. You know, each drawing their own conclusions. So, you know, we kind of had a conversation here in Chicago about the Artist's Union of the 1940s. Nicholas Lampert, who wrote an article in Art Work about that subject and knows a lot about that part of history and that part of labor history as well as art history. It was kind of shocking of our dependence on the WPA as a metaphor within the introduction especially in Art Work. And pointing out the flaws in that in his presentation. So, it was quite interesting to see this more in depth kind of examination of people working towards, you know, solidarity with other kinds of labor unions and all these kinds of things that at that time in the States, which is something that we don't necessarily have on a really widespread basis any longer. People kind of know that history exists but artists and artists were union workers were working in that way to create change but also working in that way on a daily basis. And for some people that are an answer to what's going on in their local economy like that would be a really great thing. For other people, it may not work. It really depends on what's happening and how you're already getting your money. So Art Work exists to create conversation around those kinds of things to compare notes between a couple types of approaches.
So, if there's not any more questions at this point, which I'm happy to stop myself...
[Joseph] Q: It's me again, Joseph. Sorry. Um, okay. You mentioned that you guys were involved in three exhibition events? You could talk about them a little bit?
[Salem] A: Well the one that I can really talk about with any kind of skill right at this moment, because we were involved in it directly and it happened here in Chicago. We were invited to use the space at Gallery 400, which is an exhibition space on the campus on the University of Illinois at Chicago. There kind of interesting in terms of a university exhibition space in that they, throughout their history, they've shown almost exclusively regional and mostly Chicago based artist's work and a tremendous variety of contemporary artists here working in a lot of different ways. They've done a lot of challenging exhibitions before and we were happy to work with them. We worked with several of the people who happened to work for the university in different capacities before so Anthony Elms, who is the Assistant Director at Gallery 400, also is the publisher of White Walls, which is the artist book imprint. And White Walls helped us to publish Prisoner's Inventions a long time ago. So we knew it was a good situation to be in. For that, we basically, well the big difference between making an exhibition out of Art Work there vs. the first time we did, which was at Spaces, was that at Gallery for Hundred, we decided to make a poster that would chart out the money involved in this exhibition and in making the publication. How much everything costs, how much we got out of that and what we did with the money. Gallery 400 was able to give us enough money to do a reprint of the newspaper, which we desperately needed at that point because we were almost out of the 10,000 copies we had printed in Cleveland. But then we also had a little bit of money left over to pay our contributors which was and to our next thing that we really wanted to do. So in one of the rooms at the space… Well, while I'm talking I will see if I can find some of the pictures that are online for you to look at. But, in one of the rooms at the space, we made large copies of the text that we wrote to people. Two writers and two people have contributed in the images. We had decided to do for the images, people got a certain separate and had the writers got a rate per word. And of course, when we finally sent people checks which we didn't promise at the beginning because we didn't know if we would ever have money to actually ever pay people which is another kind of strange thing that happens when you were doing these sorts of work. Anybody that we sent a check to based upon their writing sent us a note saying "oh, if I would have known that you were paying by the word I would have written more" which is kind of, it's funny the first three times and then after it happens ten times you are kind of like "GAHHH". So, it was nice to be able to be transparent about the money in that situation. I hesitate to say if we did or did not get paid because I think it depends on how you look at it in.
But three of us and contemporary services did at the end of f it, write ourselves checks for just over $100 each. But we also put in months of labor and time and to me that always means missing out on other ways to make money because the money that I make to pay bills and my rent is all dependent on time. I do a lot of freelance work and I need time to get the work and let people know that I can do stuff for them, and all that kind of stuff. So when I'm working on my art it's always taking away from time to work on my money and I have not really bad and a lot of situations where working on my art and working on my money are the same. I suspect that a lot of you are on the same boat.
So, it was kind of interesting part to put that up there. We have this poster telling everybody how much money spaces gave us and what all of that money went towards. How much money USC gave us and what that money went towards. Most of the money in both cases went to print and, actually printing papers. Um, so it's one element of the exhibition that I think I would love to see in a lot of different exhibitions, not just at places like institutions like colleges and I kind of thing. But I think it would be really interesting to see that an alternative spaces as well. You know, for people to say "Okay, it cost me $3.00 to get the duck tape and it cost me $2.00..." You know, all that kind of stuff.
Someone is asking for images of the exhibition, so I'm going to continue to look here. I'm copying onto the chat room again. God, there's something about this that all of this technology is really fast. I'm talking to all of you people around the world but just going back and forth between windows I seriously feel that I'm about 85 years old and I have some kind of hand eye coordination problem. Does anyone out to get that feeling? No, okay. That's all right.
[Scott]: Sort of (laughing).
[Female group member]: That's because you were talking. You have to be texting.
[Salem]: Okay, now I get.
[Salem]: It's just, it's hard out there for a joke.
[Scott]: Greg, are you having trouble hearing Salem or us? Or someone else?! Oh Damn! I'm being so slow tonight. I just never mind me (laughing).
(Inaudible background chatter)
[Salem]: Greg, get those kids off your lawn! So, that's what I'm saying. So, I just put up a link to the page where we have the announcement about the gallery 400 and, you know, I'm not (inaudible 0:50:57.9) either. I mean, I just, I feel like, you know… There is just something about fast technology that makes me slow down, which is counter intuitive. I am still kind of looking for some of the pictures. I think there is a Gallery 400 block where we can find some of that.
[Joseph] Q: Hey Salem, while you're looking can I ask another question? One of the things that I love about the newspaper is the personal economies and that kind of anonymous contributions. I wonder if you could say something about the decision to do than and, I don't know, how they figure into that kind of rubric thinking around the paper.
[Salem] A: Yes. Actually I'm glad that you brought that up and because that's one of my favorite part about the paper as well. A kind of came out of those little snippets of notes that people were sending us along with their actual contributions. And then we had a few people who at the beginning, we had asked them to contribute a piece of writing or a work. And we got more than one response saying that "we would really love to tell you about how this place screwed me over" or how "this job that I had really wasn't sustaining me" or "how I have no time but I can't talk about it really because I'm still employed by them" or "I do this". So we said, "what if you made an anonymous contribution and we would be the only people who would know. And if we see anything that might lead back to you we would edit it. You know we would take out names and stuff like that." And then, it kind of occurred to us that everybody has not just negative stories about working with employers but neutral stories about how they get paid.
And not everybody likes to talk about how they get paid or how they sustain or don't sustain their work and their livelihood. I know that it is an American thing, but I think that is wider than that. It's a cultural thing. And many cultures, you just don't talk about money. You either talk about it if you grew up really poor or maybe if you're rich you don't talk about it or not, I'm not sure. You know, everybody seems to be in that same sort of middle class place sometimes or everybody seems to be without money or everybody seems to be doing really well. And no one really talk specifics. We thought maybe that if we gave people the opportunity to talk about what was really going on, they would be a little bit more candid and totally happened. So we have these personal economy's which is a section on the Art Work site, all of them are kind of put together in one area but also they are scattered throughout the newspaper. We have printed a few on the artwork site that we didn't have time or space to bring in the newspaper. They are actually a pretty wide range of just very simple "this is how I make money. This is what my job is. This is what I do to make art" to a more wide ranging " this is one particular situation that I had was not getting funding or getting too much funding and here's what I did that". And I think taking the names off, for a lot of people, gave them the feeling that they had freedom to print the truth.
You know, I think personally that money is attached to the idea of sustainability when you really talk about people. It's been taken out of that context of and put into the idea of greening and the environment and stuff. But sustainability is also about people and the resources that we create for ourselves. It's all kind of attached to this emotional landscape as well. This is my big thing for the past few years, talking about this stuff. People really feel that when they're out of money and they are not getting paid for their work they feel like it's not as important as other work. They feel like they're not doing as well as other people were getting paid are. When you are broke in can't afford to do that your friends can do, you feel like there's something wrong with you and this comes from childhood. You feel like if you have holes in your shoes and somebody else doesn't, you feel like there's something apparently wrong with your family and that you're dirty and are bad. I think that even if you didn't grow up and those kinds of circumstances, you still hold on to these kinds of unconscious ideas about how you would respect money. So when you take away people's identity and say " Okay, now you can freely talk about this in an anonymous fashion" people just kind of flock into it.
It was pretty amazing. Some of the stories that are shared on there, it's the sort of stuff where you are just like " Oh, okay. Yeah. I've had that exact same thing happened to me too" or " I was promised something and it was taken away and then two months later I realized that the institution had spent money on XYZ's salary or on buying more property in a downtown city that shall remain nameless instead of rehiring some of the people that they had laid off last year" that kind of situation. It creates a situation where people feel unable to say that like "Okay, this is how one to be an artist and I'm going to do this job". It's like nothing is permanent or real. So, you know, who do we depend upon besides ourselves to do this kind of work?
Sorry if I'm a downer.
[Scott]: No, no, no, not at all Salem. It's tough that is important to everyone who is working in the arts. Except of course, for people who were doing really well financially as artists. Probably, this might not be quite as interesting. Um, yeah. Quick question, if I can quickly for off the mic to Michael.
[Michael] Q: Just a quick question that is sort of along those lines of what you were just talking about. What are some examples of sort of strategies, I guess, in terms of how people are kind of making it happen? I mean, there is the idea of alternative personal economies. A number of really interesting, I think, platforms are set up to kind of enable people that had access to resources and that sort of thing. I'm interested in sort of hearing about that. Thanks.
[Salem] A: Yeah, I think there is definitely a little bit more of the formal networking… Oh my mom is calling me, I'm sorry. I have to hang up on my mom (laughing). Um, that's one strategy, keep good relationships with your parents and then every once in awhile suggest that day help by a long arm stapler instead of giving you a gift certificate to Applebee's or something for your birthday.
[Scott]: (laughing) we won't tell your mom that you hung up on her. Don't worry.
[Salem]: Oh, she knows I did. Yup, it's fine (laughing).
So, anyhow, I think there is definitely… One of the nice things about the Internet is that you know, just to have communities get together there are (inaudible0:59:23.1) conventions and a kind of thing. Like, that's one of the more funny (inaudible 0:59:28.1) to that. But, on a getting things done kind of tip, it also means that anyone who lives in such and such a place and that wants to do like, have a workshop on how to make a booklet with people that they live nearby, they can get on the Internet and for meet up or propose a class to their local public school. You know, they can, by that I mean the public school group not necessarily, you know. So and then that strategy is the same strategy that has always been there. Like creating a newsletter or finding your community and sharing those kinds of resources and knowledge of them.
But I really do like what's then going on, oh lord, I guess one of the BaseKamp members as a (inaudible 1:00:27.5). But that's cool. There's a place for all of us.
I think that I really like the projects that I have seen that are leaning towards other people making their own projects and doing their own work in the ways that they want to. In one aspect, something like the group Incubate that is Chicago based in one of the member live in the Ukraine. So they have this Sunday Soup, which Joseph mentioned earlier, which they hadn't been actively doing in the last few months. But, the basic idea if that's the outside community by the couple or a bowl of soup from them, a different soup is specially made for the occasion every week. The money from the soup sales goes into this community pot and at the end of the month someone receives all that money as a grant. And in the Incubate version everyone was bought into the soup gets to vote on who received the grant every month. By buying the soup become kind of a stakeholder in to receive this grant. And there's other ways of doing that to.
And other example of kind of a money resource sharing situation that I really love is something that a group called Chances Dances does that a Chicago based and really has been Chicago focused and its major. It's chancesdances.org for anyone that is fiercely typing into the check box. Basically it is three or four times a month depending on what other special things are happening those months. It is these dance parties and actual clubs and venues and the people from Chances, a lot of them are artists as well as DJs and artists as well as other things in their lives. It's an LDB, GQ and Allied dance party where the focus is on everyone having a good time. They are open to people of all ages, while 21 and over depending on the venue. And so they have one that happens once a month where there was always a $5.00 cover and all that money goes into this fierceness grant, which is basically a grant that will go to an artist or dart group or a collaborative work on some sort of creative project. And, um, it...
[Scott] Q: Hey Salem, I think I missed what that was. Fierceness Grant?
[Salem] A: Yeah. Chancesdances.org if you look at, and I will type it in here. If you look at their projects, I'm typing the URL in now, so if you look at their project age you will see the critical fierceness grant, which is completely from the ticket sales of one of their dances that they sponsor where it's like $5.00 to get in. Um, so, on the average I think for the last couple of years they've been able to give three different people $500 grants, which is like a huge boom to a lot of different kinds of projects. I was excited about at the beginning and I was even more excited about it after a few rounds of them actually successfully getting money to people because it's totally homegrown, it's based on this experience that doesn't rely on the grant in. Chances was actually just voted in one of our local weeklies as one of the best dance parties and the city and so totally, the audience for that may not be the same audience that's actually going to be using or enjoying the art projects that its funding. But, it's guaranteed money because people pay to drink, people pay to go dance. So they decided that instead of pocketing that, these people would support their community and a lot of ways. Which I think is really tremendous. You know, it's the sort of thing that you will see… For me I think, and again I think I'm going on a tangent here said write me back down to reality if you feel like you need to.
[Scott]: No, maybe I'm not joining and quite enough but I'm just marveling at the, well I'm interested in the examples that you brought up that I'm not aware of yet. Which is cool. And if I was, it would still be interesting.
[Salem]: (laughing) Okay, great. I mean, the last thing I wanted to say about that was just that, you know. Platform, the group that is based in London, and I can find this link later on, but they just made this map of all of the cultural institutions that BP give some sponsorship money to. BP, you know, that is short for British Petroleum. They are this company that is not necessarily just about Britain or petroleum. A lot of you are familiar with them they had the well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico a little while ago. And this map, when I was looking at this map, that Platform made of all these institutions that get money for their cultural programming from BP. It started to make me think not only about BP funding so many of these things, but also, wouldn't it be great if each of us who have a space or have a group who do these kinds of projects, we should be having that kind of list that we help these kind of people do this. Like members of our group go over and help put together this publication. What we are also sponsorships of our own lives. We can take care of each other too. I think in a way, the Chances grant does that. I mean, it's the small gesture, but it could be... I mean, $500 to the right project could be huge. They could be totally huge. And it's like, we don't have to rely necessarily just on corporate funding for these things. Oh, there's the Platform. Thank you Patricia. You know, we can do that to. So, okay.
[Scott]: definitely. So Salem, if you don't mind someone has a question who has to go fairly soon and then we can get back to this and a second.
[Scott]: Do you want to turn your mic on and just ask out loud? Great.
[Salem]: So, take yourself off of mute, which is right next to the... Yeah. It's on the bottom left. Not the pause button, but the one next to it.
(Laughter and chatter)
[Carlos] Q: sorry. Hi everyone my name is Carlos and I was in the residency program at BaseKamp, I don't know if you remember me at BaseKamp (laughing).
[Scott] A: Yeah, sure! How are you?
[Carlos]: I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm from Columbia and right now I am at the (inaudible1:08:37.5) Center for the Arts in Canada doing a residency program. I'm doing a little bit of work right now that is a about what you're talking about. This is born from a question I have about being (inaudible 1:08:56.8) as an artist without having like other kinds of works and how to list my own work about just having to go to work out a note to like McDonald's or anywhere for additional jobs for economical success. So my project is about the CMG Performance Art Services and what I am trying to do is (inaudible 1:09:34.8) team of performance art and for selling performance art. So I am like looking for artists who are interested in giving me an action that will put in the catalog of actions. Like you give me an action and then you would have to pay for that catalog and for being in the (inaudible 1:10:00.7) and maybe like works like maybe (inaudible 1:10:06.0) or something like. So the conversation that you were having is like a real interesting. Unfortunately I have to leave but I want to give all of you guys my email and if someone is interested in entering or maybe receiving some information on the artists who are ready. I will be happy to send it to you and well that's it.
[Scott]: Thanks Carlos.
[Salem]: Thanks Carlos. Um, yeah, and if you have a web presence or something that you want to type into the chap box before you leave, that would be great.
[Carlos]: I am developing the work right now so I have no website yet. But what I can do is…
[Scott]: That's okay. An email is totally fine and that way anybody... If you do want to send it in the clear, you can send it here. You can also send stuff to the discussion list too, and that's a good way to connect.
[Carlos]: I can also send my portfolio if anyone wants to see it.
[Scott]: Sure, feel free to do that on the discussion list too or here is fine. Thanks a lot.
[Carlos]: Okay, so here is my email. And that's pretty much...
[Salem]: I think that you pretty much confused the word "services" in it, by the way. Just a personal, everybody in services, we once met (inaudible 1:11:44.4) and um, when he was leaving us, he actually put his hand by his head in the gesture where it looks like you're tipping a hat, when you're not wearing a hat, and he goes "KUDOS!" So I do the same now. Although, you cannot see me, KUDOS!
Um, okay. So Carlo's stuff is up on the chat box right? For anybody who wants to see it, that's cool. That's great.
Are there any other questions or points to ponder or things that I should type or go over. I understand some people are having problems with their sound.
[Joseph] Q: I have another question Salem. It's Joseph. What about Art Work Issue 2? Is there a chance that there could be another newspaper somewhere in the future? Do you have any thoughts or ideas about that might happen or what a follow up conversation might look like?
[Salem] A: Um, you know, we've had some people ask about that (laughing). Christopher Lynn just said "Art Work 2 - The Revenge", um, I think which is probably better than my response which would be "Art Work 2 - The Electric Boogaloo". I mean, that's like an old joke. Uh, thanks. Thanks for the bone Chris, thanks for the bone. Um, yeah, I don't know. There's definitely been some conversations about more writing, and people have been asking us to make their projects they are working on to be connected to these... It's a wide variety of things. So, there's definitely a lot of, to use the marketing world's terms, content, for us to get back out there into the world. It's like we were just able to republish the original again because a group in Minneapolis called "Work's Progress" had some money for printing and they had originally wanted to buy a bunch of copies from us that we didn't have enough copies for them. And then they said "well what if we just get it printed here?" And they took it upon themselves to get a quote from a local newspaper printer, were actually does one of the dailies in Minneapolis, and we gave them all of our files. And they printed it and returned, they gave us, we asked them if we could throw them some money to get 1000 of the papers and they were able to do that. So really, the newspaper part of it is all based on on funding unfortunately. It's possible that we in Temporary Services will be able to either raise funds or get another partner who is able to do that. Definitely I think that the question that came up about maybe online, we're still kind of experiment and what the website should develop into so that the possibility. You know, I think that we might be open to having people who were outside of our group contributing to the website because there's so many different contributions from so many different people on there. We actually have an interview with (inaudible 11:15:14.3) who is based here in Chicago, was done for the original publication and that I've been sitting on, we are supposed to put it up on the website, and I will probably have the top of the next couple of weeks. I still have all of this new to the site stuff that hasn't made it yet.
So yeah, I think that if there is interest there is also, also I think that what would prevent us from diving into it right now is just that Temporary Services is doing concurrently 5000 other different projects. Plus after this week, my collaborators in temporary services are not on the Skype chat because everybody is either taking a break, and actually, my collaborator mark just got married on Sunday so he's going to be on his honeymoon. So that puts a wrench into making some things happen quickly.
Steven, I'm exaggerating, I said about 5000 but it's really more like 4500. Yeah, I tend to exaggerate (laughing). Yeah.
So I think that might be interesting another thing that is kind of happened is back in the effort of us just asking people to take on this as their own, and just do with it as they will, things that we had really even conceived of happened. Joseph, who is there at the BaseKamp space tonight, took it upon himself to start making the audio book version of Art Work, which I find very exciting. Joseph can tell you exactly where that is on the Internet. But several people have read articles and they are available to listen to as MP3s. It's at the San Francisco (inaudible 1:17:25.4) site. Joseph? The link is coming soon. Chris asked, since you are still publishing material on the site, are you open to submissions for art and work? Um, yes. Actually we are. Especially within the anonymous contributions part. You know, if somebody reads those over and feels the urge to share what's going on with them, we would really like that. People have been using the comments in some sections to share their own things and so you can e-mail any of us directly. I guess it's not completely anonymous because you do have to email one of us in Temporary Services. But you can even pick the one of us that you are the most comfortable, there are three of us, and send it directly to us. And then we won't sure the name with the other two and we'll put it up on the site. So there is that one moment of outreach that you have to do.
Um, so yeah, there are still a bunch of different possibilities of what could happen with this project. A lot of the projects that we do and temporary services tend to be open ended because in the middle of the projects we will realize that the ride lot of different things that could be done with the subject matter and other things that we would like to explore. I think that this is true for a lot of artists in our group, when you're working with such a big crowd of people and you were working with a lot of big ideas you realize that. I think that any art project sets out to be the solution, of course going to have the problem attached to it where there is a big moment of failure there. Especially where you were talking about art, money, sustaining themselves, and how we work in the world that the solution is going to be different for everybody. And that's something that we've all explored in Plausible Artworlds throughout.
[Alyssa]Q: I know you talked about a little bit, this is Alyssa, in terms of organizations sharing their projectors and equipment and things like that. But I wondered, like, in your research for personal or organizational economies what sort of successful models you may have come across (inaudible 1:20:07.3).
[Salem] A: The funny thing is that I feel bad that the first thing to jump to mind are models that were successful for some time but then kind of outgrew or all lasted their natural life span and then maybe completely not good for the people were sustaining them, and all that. And I'm thinking along the lines of shared space kind of models. Communal situations with people working as artists and with people working and living together and sharing their resources and that way. And some kind of emotional connection or other thing that wasn't really working from the beginning and I just kind of exploded. I feel bad that those are the first things that are going into my mind vs. The positive kind of things that are out there. You know, there are groups that successfully sustain themselves for a long time and then some outgrowth of that group does something completely different. Like Art Metropol, who a lot of you may know as distributor of our first publication as well as a printer, started out of the work of a general idea and the people who were working around the same capacities and in certain ways I don't think that it's a cooperative collective effort on some levels anymore, but is definitely doing what they set up to do which is to distribute artists publications. There are some things that are miniature successes that in our community in which (loud typing inaudible1:22:29.9) that have been able to give some direct help in terms of (loud typing inaudible1:22:38.0) kind of, you know, after school program and off the streets stuff that a lot of the kids in our neighborhood really used for getting interested in school. I don't know, that's probably not the kind of thing that you are interested in Alyssa. But I would count that kind of success on the same level that I would someone trying to create change in terms of a union or that kind of goal.
But the artists union that existed here in the states in the forties, they had, like, you know, there was this great damage that Nicholas used in his presentation, and I'll see if I can find it, when he was talking about the artists union to some of us in Chicago. Nicholas Lampert, again I mentioned him earlier for those of you who came on late. Where was basically a WPA (loud typing inaudible1:12:52.8) of the States, their schematics of how people who were being paid as artists under the WPA monies, you know, like how many there were and what they got paid. It wasn't very much but the idea that this governmental agency was paying people in this regards, which was enough for us to get excited about it. Nicholas kind of pointed out the failures of that situation, which is why this independent artists union that came up was trying to address those failures. And they were actually able to get more pay for people and guarantee a little bit of work and have this public camaraderie, which I think it's something we're really lacking a lot of situations these days. The art institute of Chicago here laid off a tremendous amount of workers in the last three years and then they have one of the biggest amounts of Financial Holdings and real estate holdings here in the city of Chicago and when you look at those numbers I don't know if they match up. The problem is that so many of us depended on whatever jobs we can get and art schools here in the states, you get into this kind of system where the people are being trained in art school with the same kind of older notions of how you're going to sustain yourself as an artist. There's a class called professional practices and a lot of art schools, and those of you who went through art school can attest to that, and the ones that have, I have never taught it. And never actually been required to take a professional practices class. I didn't go to a traditional art school kind of format. The idea that your professional practices class I mean, it sounds on the outside like it's going to help you figure out what you're going to do with his education and that you have in the different things you can do when you're out of your school and out in the world and been a real artist. I'm holding up my hands like using quotation marks.
[Scott]: You know, Salem, I think it would be a really awesome idea if you and Jessica Westbrook and Adam Troughbridge could connect, if you haven't already, while you guys are all out there in Chicago.
[Salem]: Yeah, definitely. Well, we were able to meet briefly at a professional artist's conference (laughing). Yeah. It was at the College Art's Administration, that kind of thing. But I'm looking forward to... Actually, Adam did take a class with Mark Fisher from my group like a long, long... So, we're all aware of each other's presence. But I'm happy that they're moving to Oak Park is it Jessica? I love the money sense, it's hilarious. Um, yeah. Yeah.
[Scott]: I just wanted to say, I totally hate to cut it short, but I have to be, to play the gong.
[Salem]: Oh man! I talked so much!
[Scott]: And recognize... No! It's completely awesome, and I just only realized that it's five minutes after eight and we try to stay super strict about that just for, mainly for people who are in different time zones because they will, like fish eating as much food until they explode, they will stay up until they literally pass out from exhaustion. So just to be kind.
[Salem]: Fish eating as much until...wow. Okay.
[Scott]: We did start the audio late. But you know, you can probably expect a general mix of text and audio and then some weeks there is no audio. It's completely up to the person presenting and kind of up to the whim of how the conversation is going. But um, this is definelty not to be cut short. We ultimately need to continue this conversation. And Salem, I'm actually thrilled about however slim or larger change it is about the possibility of you moving to Philadelphia for however long. So, if that happens (laughing).
[Salem]: Yeah, that's not really that public yet Scott, but okay.
[Salem]: No, that's totally fine.
[Scott]: Move to New Jersey I mean? Um...
[Salem]: Well, yeah, I might go there for a relationship, but that's cool. We'll see how it goes.
[Scott]: I didn't mean to get into...
[Salem]: No, it's totally fine. Totally fine.
[Scott]: Scratch it from the record, for sure.
[Salem]: I just want to say before everybody gets cut off. The presentation that I failed to actually present to you will be on Scribed for however long it needs to be. It will be public and there is another presentation in there that you won't have the malivious sounds of my wonderful voice narrating it, but it's pictures from just a big, kind of huge, general Temporary Services kind of intro, kind of talk. Also on Scribed. If you're looking at one of them, you can find the other one when you click on my profile or whatever it is on there. A lot of you know that you can find any of us in Temporary Services by hitting servers at temporaryservices.org. You know, we're always happy to talk with you, answer questions if you have them, ask questions if it seems like you have answers. Maybe collaborate all kinds of things. So, anything that I didn't get to address that you maybe wanted me to address, feel free to email me and we'll have a conversation in another way.
[Scott]: Salem, thanks so much. We're really looking forward to starting those conversations here in Philly.
[Salem]: Yeah, definitely I'm excited about whatever you guys want to do with the paper and what kinds of conversations that those of you who are at BaseKamp now can address what is lacking in Philly and what is lacking, in, uh, and what you would like to see happen. You know, to help each other, you know, make a better creative work.
[Scott]: Rock on. Thanks everybody and imagine closing music here and we'll see you all again next week (really bad pretend beat boxing noises).
[Salem]: Oh, maybe I'll just repost the YouTube from earlier, it's my favorite YouTube. You can get off if you want. Oh, here's "The Vapors", that's pretty good. Let's see if I can, uh, here we go. Here, that's Biz Markie, "The Vapors".
(Closing music; Biz Markie- "The Vapors")
END OF TRANSCRIPTION
Created on 2010-06-29 20:21:30.
This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
This week we’ll be talking with some of the people behind F.E.A.S.T.— Funding Emerging Arts with Sustainable Tactics.
FEAST is a recurring public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund new and emerging art makers. At each FEAST, participants pay a sliding-scale entrance fee for which they receive supper and a ballot. In the course of the evening, diners vote on a variety of proposed artist projects. At the end of dinner, the artist whose proposal receives the most votes is awarded funds collected through the entrance fee to produce the project. The work is then presented during the next FEAST.
FEAST emerged in Brooklyn in February 2009, inspired by Incubate Chicago’s Sunday soup, and now has sister programs in Minneapolis, Portland OR, St Louis, Detroit, Baltimore, and many other cities nationally and internationally, always tapping into the individual fabric of each community. In Philadelphia, preliminary meetings strongly suggest growing interest in this model. It seems Philadelphia is ripe for an occasion of arts support and community at the “bottom-up” level, with its wealth of artists, arts schools (recent graduates with few opportunities), collectives, thinkers, community organizations and emerging sustainability groups.
All too often “tactics” are considered situational rather than sustainable. But an artworld economy, if it is to be truly plausible needs to embody sustainable tactics. How does FEAST fulfill the mandate stated in its name? To address that broad question in practical terms, Tuesday’s potluck conversation will also double as a practical organizing session — part of an ongoing conversation about shaping a “FEAST in Philly”. What does Philadelphia need? What existing structures can be built on? What can Philadelphia learn from other models? What are the unique characteristics of Philadelphia that will form its own model? Who will be involved? How does Philadelphia define community? What will Philadelphia support? How will proposals be directed or selected? And beyond Philadelphia, can this kind of a conversation spark similar initiatives in similar communities?
Week 18: FEAST
(Silence until 0:17:44.6)
[Scott]: Hello? Can you hear me (laughing)? Yeah, that's the internet speaking. Hey Steven? Hello? Can you hear us?
[Steven]: Hey Scott. How are you doing?
[Scott]: Hey good. Can you hear us? Can you hear me?
[Scott]: Awesome. Okay. So...
Is that better? Okay, cool. Yeah. Welcome everybody who is here online and everybody in the space to another week of, I feel like a talk show host here. But, to another week of this year of weekly events called Plausible Artworlds where we're looking at a different kind of fledgling or micro artworld. Some of them not so micro even, each week for the year. This week, we'll be talking with Jeff from FEAST, and Kate as well, from FEAST, who have been doing this thing in Brooklyn for a little while now. Rather than explain it myself, I wanted to kind of turn it over to Jeff. We're just going to try to have an informal conversation with a microphone. Is everybody still there?
Can you hear us? I assume. Well, just type in if it's crazy and you can't hear us. Oh, okay. Yes, thanks Alyssa. Okay, cool. Hi Jeff.
[Jeff]: H! Can you guys hear ok? Apparently there's a, what's going on upstairs? Oh, a Kung Fu class going on upstairs. Um, so, if you can't hear or if I get quite start waving wildly. So, who has been to one of these before? Anyone here at BaseKamp? The potluck before. Who's been to the potluck before? Cool. Who was at any of the talks a couple weeks ago, we did three talks here in Philly. A few people? Okay. Has anyone been to a feast in Brooklyn? Okay, cool. So, no one knows everything, which is a big part of my investigation and whenever I go talk to groups of people I like to reiterate that I have expertise and I have lots of non expertise. So, just because I happen to have a microphone in my hand does not mean that I am the one that should be talking. So, just to reiterate what Scott says, please rip this thing out of my hand. Specifically, especially tonight I think it's really important to have the people here in the room talking. We really wanted the sort of basic strategy to help get a feast or something like it going in Philly was for me to come to a few conversations and then to come back and see who shows up and who actually wants to organize and make it happen here. We do have some support but, at the same time what's long lasting and what's sustainable is that there are people here in the community who are saying "this is what we need. This is what we're interested in. These are the communities we want to serve. This is the style of support we want to create" so you're much better at answering those questions than I am.
The five cent tour of FEAST, for anyone who wasn't here a couple weeks ago and for those online. Are you guys online? Type something. We can see you. Maybe. Um, great. Awesome. So, basically we've been going on for about a year and a half in Brooklyn, NY. There is about eight core members that really sort of facilitate our project happening and I think that a nice size. And then about twenty members, volunteers that really make it happen. From the turnout from a couple weeks ago, it seems like it could be a similar size in terms of scope, here in Philadelphia. So, I would think about that in terms of if it's being organized here. You know there's probably going to be a couple hundred people that show up that you'll probably have about ten projects each time. That's sort of what we run on. And then it does take a good crew of people to make it happen. We host a dinner about every three months in a church basement. People come in and pay $20 and they get supper and (inaudible 0:23:03.2) that we work with a local farm and do an organic, locally sourced meal. A seasonal meal. And whoever gets the most votes of the projects that are around the room, there are about ten artist projects around the room. Whoever gets the most votes gets the money that we collect at the door. Then they come back the next time and show what they worked on. The whole sort of importance behind it... I can stand too, do we have enough chairs? The whole importance behind it was that the people that organize it all work in art production for the most part. Artist designers, museum folks, gallery folks, writers. And we felt and still feel that our jobs and the way that we were producing culture was really at risk in the economic downturn. And at the same time we were participating in sustainable food projects like CSA's Farmshare, grocery co-ops, composting, eating locally and that all of those systems, even though they allegedly were more expensive to buy into, were really thriving in an allegedly terrible economy. And so, we wanted to look at those sustainable food systems and try to apply them to create sustainable models of cultural production and consumption.
And I brought... I won't get into that (expletive 0:24:33.2). Maybe we'll do our throws right now.
So, Halloween last year, I got to the point where I really sick of producing in New York the way that you need to produce in order to pay your rent and to consume the way you need to consume in New York. And so I put my stuff in storage and started to different cities. As soon as we started FEAST a year and a half ago, people started emailing us from around the county saying "Oh that's so cool. Can we do that where we're from?" And my answer has always been "yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!!" I mean, we ripped our idea off of kids in Chicago at Incubate who had been doing Sunday Soup for years and years who borrowed it from the great guy named Ben. He had started in Grand Rapids, Mi. It's really been something that has traveled across the county and to be honest, every nonprofit every year has a big dinner called a gala, where they invite all the people that give them money that actually make the decisions for the nonprofit and they do this exact system except it's a lot more coded and a lot less transparent.
Yes. Was that a yes? Can I get an "Amen" from the internet?
So, we were really interested in this and also looking at emerging systems of technology as an inspiration for sort of the architecture of an organization and I was talking with Scott a little bit today about the idea of open source as being a way to fund raise. This is really open source fund raising for us. And to that end, you didn't need to get a masters degree in arts administration, you didn't need to go work at the institution for 10 years to know the funders, he didn't need to… Anyone could do what we were doing. Anyone could have 10 people over for dinner and ask everyone to kick in 20 bucks into a project that you're excited about $200. And so I think we were really excited about the simplicity of it as well.
So I've been going around. I went to Minneapolis and help started a feast there. Of help sort of remotely facilitate other projects and other projects have sort of emerged on their own. And I think FEAST, partly because it's about big ugly city which is often as people think of as a connecting point. We are a connector for Stu in Baltimore, stock in Portland, OR, there is a feast in Cleveland, there's a feast that's in the Berkshires in MA, there's another feast outside Boston and you know every time we get a little bit of press I get another round of emails from Jacksonville Florida or Orlando we just heard from as well. But this is a much more concerted effort. So I think we wanted this to be a place where it feels a little directed and a little more assisted. It's such a large city and has so many artists and so many resources and I think it could be a really... What, in three days we had 70 people show up or something? So there's, you know, obviously not everyone came back but there's a lot of energy behind something like this.
One of the conversations that came up. You know, before I even start getting into more specific stuff, does anyone want to say anything? I hate that I'm geographically dominating and physically dominating this conversation. Does anyone have responses that they've been stewing on since we had our meetings the last time? Kate or Theresa do you have anything to say? Scott? Oh! There's a hand! There's a hand!
[Male Group Member] Q: Can you talk a little bit about how the actual non-profit part works or how, I know that you guys have some kind of non-profit status that you operate under or a fiscal sponsor. How do like other cities tackle that for long term sustainability? And where does the money come from and go and all those things?
[Jeff] A: Um, does this get documented forever and ever? Probably. Um, so (laughing). No. So, we are fiscally sponsored under Fractured Atlas so if anyone makes a donation to our organization, it goes through Fractured Atlas. It's a non-profit that we fall under. And so that's how any sort of big donations happen. FEAST in Brooklyn has not received any sort of major donations. We did a big kick starter but those are all small, mostly $25 - $100. We did a few $200-$250 donations. But for the most part we're a $10 and $20 operation. The actual grants, it is a CASH CASH CASH situation! And the way that we think about it and now that we are continuing and growing and sort of production more money, we're seeking more specific financial advice. Which we're in the process of doing right now. But the way that we've always considered it is like it's a private event, its private party, and that really it's not we are an organization we don't have an LLC. You know, we're not like an individual propriety that it's many, many people making small donations to an individual and that's how we would define it tax wise. That no one is getting $1,000 from me, Jeff Hnilicka but that 200 people are in a room all giving someone $20 in cash. But, we also don't claim it. It's not really going through us either. We put it in a bag with a dollar sign on it and then we hand the bag with the dollar sign over to someone and then they walk away with it. If someone wanted to claim it as income, that would be where it would get tricky. But we have enough expenses where we are able to show... Like we have plenty of receipts. Our expenses far exceed our individual donations. So, that's sort of the logistics of it.
(Inaudible comment question from background)
We do. We max out at $1,000. We don't fund anyone more than $1,000. Last time we funded four projects. We did one $1,000 grant, one $600 grants and two $400 grants. That's what we did last time. One $600. One $1, 000, one $600 and two $400 grants.
So in terms, if you're asking like a tax question, we're looking into that ourselves and I don't really have a great answer for you. But, I feel like it's scrappy enough and fluid enough that anything that feels concrete is definitely taken care of. But we are like not interested in becoming a non-profit. I think, for us, it's an artistic practice. An artistic program and the formality of becoming an institution and having a board to answer to and...
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Huh. NATO's getting loud. That's not really anything we're interested in. I think another big piece of for us in Brooklyn is thinking about responsible growth and sustainable growth. And we don't want to do anything else besides four events a year. We all like having our own things that we do. We started out doing once a month and it was insane. It's not fun. You finish one and you're getting ready for the next one. It feels a lot better to space it out. So, does that answer the question you were asking? I don't know if I answered that. Okay.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Yeah, I mean it's not that we don't... The like going out and sharing the idea with other people, for me is a lot less about it. I've always described it as "I'm not trying to start whole foods". I want to help people start lots of CSA's around the country that are individual, doing their own thing. If they want to be called FEAST that's great. If they want to come up with their own name that's fantastic. All the different cities around the county sort of have their own iterations so, you know. In Baltimore they pick a couple of different organizations that they fund. In Portland they let the first ten people that propose go. Incubate has tried a bunch of different ways to do what they do and it's still an evolving process and for us it's an evolving process too. This last time we had 27 proposals come in and we did an internal prescreening where we only selected eight projects to be proposed, which was actually really successful and we were really happy with that. So, I think that actually something that I would love to do. Because I think most people know most of the things that I've just said.
So, I really want to hear from everyone that is here is what is it that Philadelphia would want and need? And what populations are you guys wanting to serve here? I think to reach out to people, we did three different geographic areas, but it seems more and more interesting for me as an outsider and from a lot of people that are organizing to do something more centrally located that would serve the entire city and to bring the city together in a different way. But, you know, you are the ones that are here at the table now and that are wanting to organize. So that's something I would love to hear peoples' responses on. Does anyone want to talk? I can keep talking so... Don't stop me.
[Scott]: One question that I have is I wonder if the prescreening... This was a similar question that came up during one of the other recent weeks where we focused on The Collective Foundation and some of their micro funding strategies or projects even. Just examples of things they've done. And one was something very similar where everybody that kind of bought into it, with almost no money, could then vote on the the pool of money, the surplus went to. To fund some project by that person (coughing). Excuse me. Anyway, one of the things that they were doing in one of these projects was prescreening them so like, I don t know. 30 or 40 or 50 applicants and then they sort of whittle it down to five and then everybody gets to vote on those five. And my question was like why not just go ahead and choose the winner? If you're going to go ahead and narrow it down already. I mean, obviously it's to give people a sense of voting but I guess I was just kind of curious about that process and why have a sort of first pass.
[Jeff]: No totally. And it's something that we really struggled with and I'm sure will re-invision the next time we do it. We've always let every proposal come in and they're always a lot of stinker. That's great and we love that because there are people that have never applied for a grant before that see what a difference that level of professionalism or that specificity gives to a granting pool. And so, it was sort of a heartbreaker for me to like get rid of the projects that were like not super great or really poorly explained or poorly executed. But, at the same time there's a logistics issue for us. We had 20 proposals the time before and you can't dig through that sort of information effectively in a two hour dinner
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Yeah. So we knew that when we had 7-10 proposals it felt really good. And it felt digestible. SO that was the number we were shooting for. And then we just worked with the sort of the core organizers to whittle down what makes sense. Also to that end, we are really interested in contemplating and redefining and thinking about community for us and we've made an incredible effort to get a really diverse applicant pool because that means you have a really diverse pool of people saying "hey come to this event"
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
[Scott]: Hey Joseph! We just added you to the chat. We're talking with Jeff from FEAST right now. How are you?
[Joseph]: I'm good. You guys are in the middle of a conversation right now I guess?
[Scott]: Yeah, but welcome! Welcome in!
[Joseph]: I'll just mute myself! I'll just hit mute and listen for awhile us just a second.
[Scott]: Rock N roll. And totally feel free to join in anytime.
[Jeff]: YES! Other people talking!
[Lauren] Q: Hi, I'm Lauren. I guess I'm not super familiar with the planning process so far but taking advantage of your presence here, I'm curious to learn more about the details in your personal experiences about bringing large groups of people together and the actual planning and how you found the process of uniting desperate communities just represented here towards kind of a goal to serve many, many different communities as well. So maybe specific planning advice that you have through your experience?
[Jeff] A: Totally. That's a great question. And I think this is also not the end of my participation in this project either. To me I think that in the same way organizing people is a large part of what my practice is and so I'm really interested in that question. How do you bring a group of people together from around a city that don't know each other and define a value system and start making decisions and figure out how the leadership works within that? For instance, in Minneapolis it's a much smaller community so I think people at least had a sense of who was around the table. But I also think that at a certain point, because it's so task oriented, it's about practice not theory at the end of the day. It's a dinner. It's about making a dinner and having a party. And so, you can kind of get into the... I think the more task oriented the project the meetings start to be. I think there is a foundation of interest for people about what this project is and so I think that through saying "okay, these are the food people" then they get together and start cooking. During that cooking time, they start talking about what the community is.
[Theresa]: It's Theresa. I just wanted to extend on what Jeff is saying by way of I think that this is sort of unique in the sense that we're organizing the organizing group. We're not necessarily; it's not sprung out of a group of friends that started talking about something at a bar to make it happen. What we're sort of doing is almost like randomly sending out emails, sending out word and coming together to see who keeps coming back to talk about what it is that we're going to do. So really its a little bit f a different process in that way as far as the organizing goes. Would you say? And then I think that some of the things that we're interested in and thinking about is like "who is the community? What kind of audience do we want to draw? What sort of proposals are we hoping to direct or not direct?" So, that's a lot of questions. Maybe we should just start with one of those? You know, like what kind of projects are we looking to... Like for instance, Baltimore. They have a very sort of specific more like social services things like that. And so in Philadelphia, what kind of projects are we looking to fund? What do we see as needs of our community (coughs)? Excuse me.
[Jeff]: Yeah, and also if you told ten of your friends to come to this thing, not only what do you think would you like to fund but what would your friends like to fund too? That I think is the really interesting thing about when you start creating this community. If you have this sort of dispersed group of people organizing something, you have a pretty diverse pool of people that are coming and voting and then all of a sudden that group of people defines a value. And so I would like to hear ... What's really successful for us? I would like to pay for my studio time. We do not see a lot of success with that. It's a lot of like "I want to go and do this project in this community", "I want to be doing this sort of outreach". I want to hear what you have to say.
[Male Group Member]: I guess, to add to that. I think that there are so many artists in Philly that just need like $500-$1,000 to just get whatever they're doing off the ground. But I agree that it shouldn't be like paying for studio time or "I want to buy a new camcorder". I don't feel like that is a legitimate thing to fund. Even though it may help that person out in the future but there might be better ways for them to actually get that money. I think that being focused on projects that relate to whatever they're doing in the community or at least relate to Philadelphia, but not things like "I need this laptop and these speakers so I can do Skype chats every Tuesday." I love Plausible Artworld.
I think that offering alternatives to the ones who do want to fund their studio time and like but a camcorder and say "well, there are these other resources out there that might be helpful" and at least have a list of links to say "there is Kick Starter, and there is the Awesome Foundation in Boston". Like there are a ton of groups out there that give micro grants to artists, just not like this dinner.
[Jeff]: Totally. Does anyone else? I like this action! YEAH!
[Chris]: I would like to know how you define community.
[Jeff]: Totally. That continues to be something that we talk about and think about. These two ideas of community and sustainability I think get thrown around constantly and their totally loaded words. I've been working in big institutions and small institutions and I think both of those ideas have a lot of mythology and falsehood around them that most of the time sustainable projects aren't sustainable. They're volunteer run. They have a huge start up cost, and a lot of expenses associated with them. I think a lot of times the sustainable projects, not sustainable art projects necessarily but sustainability ends up having a real boutique draw as opposed to something more pedestrian. And community projects rarely actually engage a "community" for people on Skype.
And I'm not reading that, I'm sorry. Scott? Are you on top of reading people's comments? If you want to read anything let me know because I'm not really able to read and pay attention like that
[Scott]: Maybe this is a good time to add in Steven's comment. He was just asking more about your earlier comments on a democratic process and he said that the way addressed what I was asking was more a comment on people's expectations and knowledge about preparing grant applications rather than how the project really makes democratic mean something. I guess that's not really a question. Maybe, I just wondered if you wanted to respond whether the project was trying to address ideas about democracy or whether it was just a way of kind of describing something briefly.
[Jeff]: I think democracy is really not in our name. We describe it as democratic but I think a better work is actually transparent. I think we're really a transparent granting organization where you see who is not winning, you hear conversations of people making decisions, you know how much people are being awarded and then you also see the return and people have to come back and show what they did with the money. The grantees have to show to the people that funded the project what they did. I don't know if that even answers your question Steven. Yeah? Thanks NATO! But that's sort of...here Kate. You are actually nicely articulating.
[Kate]: I was going to kind of fold this in with Alyssa's comment too because I think one of the great things is that, we've talked about this in the other meetings, but as an artist you apply for money and it's a totally opaque process and you don't know. You don't really get feedback most of the time. But this process, you're in there and you see the other proposals. So if your proposal sucks and you feel like you could articulate better you kind of say "oh, they won. This is why" and maybe like get feedback that way or you're having conversations with people that way. I mean, it is kind of an exercise in (inaudible 0:51:37.4). I don't know. I guess we don't talk about democracy that much but it is transparent and it is not a top down process really. It's everybody who is there, you vote for yourself. You're friends vote. The people who are organizing it vote. Like we're all there doing this project together, which is like democracy.
[Jeff]: I am also concerned about the organizational structure. Last night I did a talk about queer conscience and it reminded me a lot of where a lot of this project came out for me was in queer organizing. I worked with a group in Minneapolis, a help star group called Revolting Queers and just the systems and structures which really came out of labor organizing systems and feminist conversation circles and the way that was created. That really informs how we try to do FEAST and how I continue to try to talk about it. Which I think is important an important point to say that there is a reason that I'm so uncomfortable right now that I have a microphone. There is such a position of power that I hate and I really like that what we do may not be democratic, but there is enough activation of multiple voices. But I think that was nice to think back on. And also FEAST really came as a manifestation of an investigation for me that I was doing when the economy really started to shift thinking about queer economy and how we can queer economy. I'm really interested in how we can make small gestures to queer ourselves that's so outside of the way that we think about sexuality and gender that, you know. And I think that is totally in tune with queering the way that you think about your daily consumption and production. I don't know if I'm just rambling here...
[Kate]: (Laughing) yeah, I kind of got lost in what you were saying. Where my brain stopped last was, I guess I started thinking about how this isn't a perfect system and this isn't' a perfect event and it's still evolving and that's part of what is good about it and what is transparent about it. Is it everybody saying like this isn't the final solution to anything but we want an alternative and we're working on this together. Which is also...
[Steven]: Can I ask a question? Steven here.
[Steven]: Is that okay if I just ask the question?
[Steven]: I didn't want to interrupt. One of the things that's really interesting is about how open ended it is in the terms of adapting to the community where it's going to be set up. You're obviously completely open to doing it differently in Philadelphia than it was done in Brooklyn and Minneapolis and Portland and so on. I have two questions really. One is I really wanted to know just how many places you have actually facilitated setting up this kind of a structure up and how different the types of means and responses were in each community? Like to what extent do you really get substantially different input and desires and proposals from one place to another? It would be kind of interesting for me to know that.
[Kate]: That's a great question. I think really that Jeff has been far more places than I have but I was involved in the beginning in Minneapolis because I used to live there and have been privy to the conversations there. I've been to the event in Brooklyn many times. But, they're actually very different events. I think Jeff said this earlier; Minneapolis is a much smaller community than Philly or New York. Everybody knows each other and the way that event happened was more like a group of people that already knew each other. And the event happens in a very different way. Part of this was the date was set very early so there weren't as many conversations as we are having here in Philly at all about the ideas. So it was like "okay the date is set, now we're producing the event". It's a very different feeling than coming in here and talking with all of you tonight even or even two weeks ago. Its like "what's going on in Philly?" That didn't' happen so much in Minneapolis. And so Minneapolis and it's partly because a lot of the people are high level art admin there, there's a lot of designers so it's a pretty slick event. They've got a really great website. They've got great design. They've got a lot of free production stuff that just makes it look really nice. They produce a really nice event. Brooklyn is much more low key and kind of rough around the edges maybe. I don't know if that's the right term or not. I think they are really different and really characterized by the city. I don't know if you want to add anything.
[Jeff]: Yeah. I went to LA in February and did a few conversations not nearly at this level of facilitation. But the biggest issue that they were talking about was a cross-city connection. They felt so disjointed from within the city of Los Angeles and that was something that they really wanted to tackle. I helped some folks in Jersey City do a project and that was SUPER localized. They really wanted to help fund artists that were working in a couple different studio buildings and so that's a totally different tactic. In Chicago, Incubate, I think they were really responding to a much more internal investigation. Again, let me preface this by saying that all these people have way more intelligent things to say about their institutions than my outside perspective. But, I think a lot of what they were responding to was that they wanted to consider different ways of organizing arts administration. And so it's a much more sort of... Abby talks about how they used to not want to do public programs at all and that they just wanted to do inside private events. I think it does wildly vary in what people are wanting to deal with. Part of what we do in Brooklyn is about creating an experience that is not complete without you. We let people come in early and help decorate. In New York everything is really polished. Everything is really clean and crisp. And you come and consume a cultural event. It's really rare that you can come and feel like you're an active participant in the organization of it, which I think is something that we're all responding too.
(Audio feed lost 1:00:15.9 - 1:01:24.9)
[Male group member]: Who goes to church?
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
[Male group member]: Should I repeat my question? So, I had a question about ideal venues in Philly and this is for you to respond to if you're local and for people around the table. And then how FEAST Brooklyn chose their venue and kind of how it worked out and what is its location and all those things.
[Jeff]: Wow. That's a (inaudible 1:02:00.9) situation. And then there is also the question of do we pay them. We do pay them. It's very, very minimal. They're very generous with the space. We pay them several hundred dollars for electricity and time basically and wear and tear on the space. But I think that it also helps to have a place that maybe you are renting from. I've run into problems with donated space because you don't get any support. I love church basements because you get tables, chairs, and chip wear. You know, they're made to have church basement fundraisers. The Minneapolis FEAST just had an event at an Eagles. Like an American Legion sort of space, like a VFW and it was awesome. It was so, so, so, so fun and good. It was great because they had a bar and a full operating kitchen. To me, I think the most important thing is to have a serious kitchen. It is no fun to cook for 250 people in a ragtag operation and it makes a big difference to have something that is equipped to cook for that many people.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
We've done it all different ways. It's way better if you bring everything in and cook it there and serve it there and they have refrigeration there. It's way easier.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
For FEAST in Brooklyn we do it both on site and off site. And there is a kitchen in the church. This is also to say, that's if it's for 250 people. I mean, that's also a question. Are that many people what we want? Or what you guys want or whatever. What we all want. But I think, yeah here. Oh, can I just say one thing. I think that one thing that is important to me about a church or an Eagles or a space like that it doesn't feel like it's hip art kid zone. I think there is something really lovely about kids and old people and people that have lived in a neighborhood for a long time. That's really awesome. I think that if you move it into "fill in the blank industrial space" or "place that's really far and difficult to get to" that loses something for me. That might not be a problem from here though. So, I don't want to put that on you guys.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
No. no. no. no. no. no. no. Do you know what I mean? It's like when you're in some noise show then every tight panted, sorry if anyone is wearing tight pants...
[Elizabeth]: What's far? Philly is not that small and if we want to be inclusive I think that's kind of a loaded thing too. That's all relative and if you want to have everyone involved... It kind of takes me back to another thing. I attended two of the three earlier meetings and a came up, for instance, like the Kensington, is something that we kind of talked about at the second meeting too. The Kensington. There were some people that were like "well, this is the best place for it". I think that right of the bat it was sort of just have our own event. And I think that's something we should talk about. Do we want to have a Philly Feast or Neighborhood Feast? Personally, I feel like we should have one and sort of see how it goes. Let's not get ahead of ourselves in a way. But I also wonder what you think about the idea of having sort of a roving thing to begin with. Like doing it that it's really just getting the idea to catch on and having people and a lot of different communities so it's not appealing to just Center City. If we did one, I'd say Broad Street Ministry, who I've worked with in the past, is a big church on Broad Street. They donated the space, were very helpful, in my case anyway. You know, doing one in West Philly. Doing one in North. And just kind of... I just wondered what you all think about that. If there is a team of people that are working on the venue issue, that they sort of just start thinking of ideas and start working. You know, asking people all over. I have a connection here. You know. And just seeing. Maybe one catches on better as we sort of move along. But I just wondered about having sort of a roving thing to start with, at least to start with. I think it just encourages inclusivity.
[Female group member]: I was actually going to say a lot of the same things that Elizabeth did in the sense of what came out of the meetings thus far. I think it's really important. What the feel of the group is right? We want to include that. One of the main things that we got, other than a few people at this one meeting, was that there was an idea of being inclusive of everyone. So, not to say that having it in different neighborhoods on a schedule isn't an inclusive idea, but also the idea of having it in a central location where people can come from. I felt that those suggestions really strongly from the second two meetings. So just to give a little feedback from what has happened thus far. And also intention. What are our intentions as far as that goes? I think that's a really important question to ask. There are definitely some new faces here, so if there are new ideas about that we're really excited. I mean we're here just to get that feedback and that information so that it can shape our plans and organizing going forward. Broad Street Ministry actually has already offered to donate space and so that's really exciting. Now, that can't have alcohol so that's sort of too bad. But, anyway, we would obviously keep that in consideration. That's where we're at right now.
[Jeff]: Um, is NATO still on? Cause I'm going to tell a story
[Female group member]: I think he left.
[Jeff]: Aw man! Um, okay. So a couple responses. Minneapolis started doing a roving thing because they also wanted to sort of hit a bunch of different areas. I think it actually served them nicely because the first venue wasn't exactly right. And then they went to somewhere totally different and that was good for some things and not totally right. And now they're going to try another place. And so I think the nice thing about being roving is you can start to identify what your needs are and how many people come to where.
To the question about community, like how do we define community and how do we define location? Years ago, like 6 or 7 years ago, I was a lowly intern as Mass Mocha and NATO Thompson gave a lecture to us intern about the idea of becoming as a way to define community. And I'm going to butcher whatever he said because it happened so long ago and I wasn't really listening then but it stuck a little bit. Basically the idea is that there isn't some sort of static community that all of a sudden three different communities popped up. And now there's a new community here that's come together and will dissipate. And then we'll have another meeting in however long and that new group of people will become a new community. Not only is it these individuals that come together, but it's also this idea of value system and intention. And that's sort of to go back to the idea of are we interested in becoming non-profit. It's something that I loved about the Revolting Queers stuff was that there was no mission. There still is no mission. Whoever decided they wanted to make a flyer or poster or get on a microphone at a party, they were the ones who could start to define that evolving omission and that whoever sort of gathered and came together would define that intention. In the same way it can geographically roam, it can sort of cosmically or theoretically roam. Which I think is exciting and interesting too. Does anyone want to respond to any of those things I said?
[Male group member]: I want to respond to Elizabeth's comment and to yours about the roving place. I think it seems interesting that it's helpful in Minneapolis that they haven't really found what they're looking for yet. So they're kind of going to different venues. I also think it might be a little problematic to start out with the idea of roving and say "well, let's get one under our belt and if that venue isn't perfect then let's look at other venues." Because if the venue, like the Broad Street Church, is ideal then it might make sense to stay in a location because you don't really want to go to a lesser venue. It'd be like "oh man, I wish...we didn't have any spoons there. That sucks!"
[Elizabeth]: What are we going to do to encourage proposals? How are we going to get the word out in neighborhoods I haven't even gone to frankly? You know, how are we going to get the word out? How are we going to market this thing too? I guess I was thinking with the roving thing is more appealing to people as a wider array of projects and community will be defined by the people that come to this thing. So, a more diverse sort of audience and proposals. Just to encourage that. Maybe geography doesn't matter. I just think it's really important that people are coming to these things that aren't just like, someone like me. I want to see other people that have other ideas than I do and that live in different communities where they want to propose a project that will help their community.
[Jeff]: I think there is a lot of possibility with as low of a price point, assuming that here a $10-$20 range you really get a diverse, that ends up being a non-issue a lot of the time. It's too big of an opportunity not to waste.
[Male group member]: Maybe price point is something else we should talk about because I think that $20 for a family is a lot of money. If you're bringing wife and kids that becomes an $80 meal. I think to some people, it's beyond their threshold of what they can afford.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Do you do like pay as you wish?
[Jeff]: We have a kind and friendly yet forceful team of front desk people who ask $10-$20 at the door but no one gets turned away because they don't have enough money. That's in all of our materials too.
[Chris]: I think what you are saying about the movable community kind of answers my question. Like, what happens if there's problem with politics in there?
[Jeff]: If there's a problem in the community with politics? In organizing or...?
[Chris]: In organizing and such. Yeah. Because I've been in communities where it's like there were little cliques and politics just tore the thing apart.
[Scott]: Do you mean like inter-group strife and that sort of thing?
[Jeff]: I think that also part of the architecture of what we're setting up now too. Just to think back to Revolting Queer stuff, now there are like the Pegasus Party and the Beast You Jump Party and several different little action groups that have splintered off and then there's still sort of this core group of organizers. I think what's exciting is that there can be pods of people that break off and say "oh, well I want to do it this way." I don't really fear that but I also think that letting people throw their two cents and figure out how this should be organized is an exciting and hopefully, lest I say it Steven, democratic-ish way of deciding how this event could happen. AND, I also really want to reiterate it doesn't have to be called FEAST, it doesn't have to raise money, and it doesn't have to do... It doesn't have to have voting, it doesn't have t be for art. You know, it doesn't even have to happen! I think it's interesting to consider what systems are needed here. Maybe there's a public granting organization in Philly that I don't know about that answers a lot of these questions already.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
What about bums? They only want free food! Hey! They are a big part of the Green Pointe Community. We are across the street from a park where people hang out all day. No, it's not like a lot. It's definitely... People come in. That's fine. I'm sure that people that I wouldn't consider bums a lot of others would. And I'm sure I'm sure some people consider me a bum. AHHHHHHHHHHHH! Timothy just joined the chat!!!! Um, does anyone else want to say something? Um, yes.
[Female group member]: I don't know if this is really a solution, just a thought. You could have a central dinner and then rotate around every other time. Obviously that will come organically, but as far as... I think the idea of the art projects being funded is great. But also in certain communities, like public amenities like parks or public spaces are in a lot of need for help like my neighborhood and a lot of people's neighborhoods. So, I think that would be a really interesting way to combine an art piece and a public space piece. (Inaudible 1:18:58.4) arts does a lot of work but they're actually really low on funding now and I'm not saying we should fund them, but maybe there is some kind of intersection there that could be explored.
[Jeff]: Yeah. Something that we, in Brooklyn, have always talked about but never really done is thinking about what if we gave a specific sort of charge or question or theme or neighborhood to respond to. And that might be another sort of direction to go in as well. And that also might reach out into a different demographic or population that maybe is difficult to connect with that this group really wants to end up serving. I sort of feel like maybe it might be, I know that it's helpful for this to be in a big group, but I kind of would like to see what would shake down if we said like "are there specific people that are really interested in the food thing?", "are there specific people that are really interested in the figuring out venues and outreach?" I'm just kind of going off of the Minneapolis has broken up and how we've broken up. You know, people who are really sort of wanting to do like decorating, finding bands, doing sort of event stuff. Do people feel like they want to specialize? Let me say this actually, because I think this is a worthwhile question. I don't want to assume. Are people that are here tonight interesting in being sort of organizers of this event? It's fine if you aren't. Are people here wanting to spend one day a month, two days a month considering working on this investigation?
[Scott]: Is it worth asking why people want to do that? The only reason I ask is because my understanding from some of the last meetings is there was something like upwards of sixty people who wanted to help organize or something like this. Am I getting that right? Which is totally ridiculous. It's not ridiculous for some things. For a large scale organization that might have thousands of members, it's not. But for an event where, pretty much, there may be only a few times with that many people in Philadelphia, if that. I think that what attracts people to organizing something is different for different people and sometimes that doesn't work out very well. Sometimes it really could. And people have vested interest for different reasons. For instance, if an event is going to happen in my neighborhood then "oh yeah, I'm totally interested in doing it" but it's not "ooooooooooh. I don't know." So maybe it matters why people want to do it is all I'm saying. It could impact how it all could shape up. I guess I was just curious. If people here are interested, I'd be curious as to why. Not to judge what anybody's reasons are, because everything is legitimate and fine but, yeah.
[Rachel]: One of the reasons that I'm attracted to it is because food brings people together. So, it's either the food or the art that you're coming for. And so either way you're going to be exposed to something new. I would love to be working with food. I love food. I cook all the time. I have a garden. You can just learn a lot by talking to the people next to you and could be like part of the theme too. I'm not sure, I don't know. It depends if we have theme nights, but the food can be part of it. I had something else but it escaped my mind.
[Male group member]: Scott, I think I disagree with your comment. I think like if we started a Google group and we had 60 people on there. We have a Google group, okay, and it has 16 but it's going to be up to 60 eventually. But I think that if kind of break those into committees of let's say venue and food and marketing or whatever, I think that organizing an event for 200 people is a really big task. I think it's better to have like 60 people who maybe half are really interested in doing something than have 5 who are pulling their hair out. So I think it's better to start with that kind of energy amongst us than to start with less and try to talk people into it. Who knows. I think there's natural leaders that kind of come out and will say "I'm going to plan the menu" or "these two people are going to plan the menu" and then everyone else helps cook and then someone else does all the legwork to chose the venue. It's like that's going to organically occur. But I think it's better to start with more than less. Because if you have like five people in a room who want to do this, it seems like it would be crazy.
[Female group member]: I think that the thing about it too is that it's a valid question in a way but I also totally understand your point. But I think that the interesting thing about the organizing process has been what I think is going to happen and what seems to be happening is like the people that keep emailing me back and the people that keep coming back are not interested in it just because they want to propose an art project. Which is kind of the sense of some of the people that I got from some of the other meetings. Yeah, we had like 60 some people, maybe more, but they'll sort of fall away and perhaps they'll come back and propose a project which is totally great too. But the good news is that it naturally sort of works its way out as we go.
[Jeff]: Yeah, I think that's outside of FEAST stuff. What I've learned is that you get a Google group of 60 people and in two weeks you either get where no one replies back and the group dies or you get 15 people left standing that aren't sick of getting emails all the time and your really start to generate a dialog. I'm willing to trust in that system as opposed to sort of allocating who is officially in charge of something or not. I mean I'm sure we could have gone about this saying four or five people in Philly who would be really good at this and we could have come up with a group that would have executed it in a really specific way and knowing what to do. Or work with a specific organization but I think this way, this sort of mass call out is a more interesting way to see who is out there. There were people at that meeting in South Philly that were like "oh, we don't really want to organize so we're just going to do this at our house" and have like a few people over. And that's great. That's shifting culture in a community or city as well which is really exciting.
[Female group member]: You started talking about food. What's your name again? Rachael. Rachael started talking about food and I think that's a really important place to be because it is sort of my weak spot in this whole thing. I think that's such a huge part of this and it can take so many different forms. So maybe if there are other people that have this sort of interest in food, we could talk a little bit more about that. Are there other people that are interested in cooking or have sort of ideas about local organic food or... Kate's pointing to her brother. Thank you.
[Elliot]: My name is Elliot and I was just mentioned as Kate's younger brother. I live in West Philadelphia. My primary interest in this, but not only interest, is in the food aspect of it. I'm a very avid cook. I went to Oberlin College which has a very strong co-op community where I spent a semester and a half cooking for about 60-80 people once a week leading the kitchen. So I have a bit of experience in that regard and what it takes to plan a menu and organize for a whole group of people like that. Just the idea of this community run project where it's got his clear focus where it's about community and it's about art and bringing food into the mix and having the same sort of community focus on the food as well is something that is really a great interest of mine. I think that in the end, I'd really want to be focused on, and I'm sure that many other people would agree, locally produced organic. I mean really knowing where the food you're eating is coming from and having sort of a clear explanation of why you're serving this and where it's all from so that people really understand where it's coming from the same way that people are coming in and explaining their art ideas and where that's coming from and what it's all about. I know I'm definitely on board in doing what I can for the cooking aspect. My girlfriend is a professional cook as well and she' completely on board. She's actually just quitting her job in a month and wants to get more involved in this. Not the only reason, but it's on the list. But that's my schpeal and I'm excited about it.
[Female group member]: For the food, I think if we had sort of like a next step in the food part of it. Like if we just had another meeting, like the food people or something and then there's not anyone... You know there are a few aspects that go into the food. Sourcing it. We talked about this at the South Philly one. Just about how you don't want to exhaust your sources too much and that all is going to depend on how often we're going to have the events. Like I have relationships with some farmers that I can definitely tap into if somebody else wants to take, like Angela and I were talking about, the booze. She already has some relationships in place. I think because there is the menu planning, but if we are going to do a local organic, which absolutely yes, the menu is going to be based on what is available. Seasonality and who is going to donate food. So there are two components going on there. So I think if we had a meeting and then we sort of could say who has connections already, what's the strong point, who wants to actually do prep work. I just think that's a solid next step. And that's just the food component. Just in terms of moving forward and what we're going to do. I think we should plan for that.
[Jeff]: Totally. And from what I've seen with other places is the food is. You can find a spot. You can find a place that can house people. At the end of the day, it's good to be thoughtful about it, but finding someone that's like "yeah, I'll cook for free for 200 people" um, that's a daunting task. So I think that getting that settled is really important. And then from that, that builds a lot of energy because that's also not only is that a big logistical issue it's also creating space for people. Go and have dinner, make dinner together and talk about what kind of meal you want to make. We talk about the menu. You start to build that sub-community of people which is where a lot of conversations happen.
[Scott]: Hey Joan, did you want to chime in? You typed in something but I can just read it if you want. Or feel free to talk. Oh, okay. Cool. So I don't know if you guys can get that but Joan used to run an organic cafe here in Old City, it's still in Philly. And Jonathan would love to be involved but he's a little far away. We can still talk with him about a Cape Town version maybe if people are interested. I just wanted to say that we had already offered use of this space if you guys wanted to try it for one of the roving things, except for the fact that we don't have a full service kitchen with like lots of big ovens and crazy (expletive 1:33:09.0) like that. We do have a kitchen with a couple of ovens and like a total ragtag operation however. So just bear that in mind. But, that's one of the few things we could do.
[Jeff]: Do we maybe want to do...it's like 7:36 and I know that officially we wrap up at 8:00. You can probably tend to go a little later it seems like, if the YouTube karaoke gets raging which, I am in the house so I think it probably will...
I actually think it's important to meet in person before doing the Google thing or the email thing. So maybe if we could just do a little break off of food, admin so like venue systems, emails and all that stuff, and artists. How to do outreach and that sort of thing. Does that sound like three distinct categories that people would be interested in participating in? Food, admin and artists. So like organizing stuff vs..... And artists would also be like decorating stuff, bands and more of the like aesthetic piece of it. Does that sound okay? Like an okay break up? Or should we just do food and... Does anyone want to weigh in? Please?
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Just connecting people, setting up the systems. I mean, I can do a lot of the setting up of the systems too but... Um, food. That's like a whole committee. Design. I think that would probably be an admin group here. Web and print, because we have a lot of stuff that we need to make. And then working with our venue. That's all stuff that's in the admin world. Then the people that are like going out and trying to get people to propose projects and working with them to work on presentation, that stuff. Yeah, and then day of. Yeah. And those are sort of some different ways to think about it. Do we want to break up like that? Do we want to have a big group conversation still? I don't know. I don't want to propose that.
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
Well, maybe let's do at least this. Let's have food people meet at this end of the table and talk for 15-20 minutes. And the more admin type since that gets a little blurrier what roles those are. No, I think it's good to like stop and talk and like figure out what people are interested in and who is interested in what. Are people okay with that?
(Inaudible comment or question from background)
[Scott]: Ultimately, we wanted you guys to be here too in part to like look at different models and structures for artworlds and communities because this is an example of one of those. I'm really curious about... Oh, that's Joan's dog (laughing).
I thought I heard a dog out there somewhere. No worries, it's cool. I thought it was outside. Yeah, anyway. Just wondering if anybody out there has anything else they wanted to talk about in the context of, I don't know, seeing this as either a reproducible model for other kinds of creative infrastructure projects or has any interest in that. We haven't had any real questions there for awhile so maybe we should just assume that people are just interested and happy as clams.I personally thought it was great to have part of this be an organizing session too. So, I wasn't really imagining splitting up into teams or whatever. But yeah, if that's the way that works best for you then maybe we should try it to see where it goes.
I just wanted to mention one other thing. We had like set up a kind of a conversation piece. Jeff had set up a conversation piece and said that at some point it would be nice to look at and talk about. All these kind of drawings and notes that come from traveling and visiting various cities and talking about this kind of thing. So it would be good to visit that at some point for anyone who wants to stay a little bit longer.
[Jeff]: I'm thinking kind of about making things these days. I've never made things. I'm not a "maker". So I'm dipping my toe into the world of making objects. This is hardly an object but I'm working... Just to give you a little wider scope of what I'm working on right now, I am in residency at a place called Transformer Gallery, not Transformer gallery, Transformer in Washington D.C. which is a wonderful non-profit space where they are letting me sort of take over and use it as a big note taking space and use it as a place to host events and try out projects and it's book ending a big initiative that I've been working on collaboratively with several artists called Empire Builder which is a cross country train trip leaving from Washington D.C. to Portland, OR next weekend. And we're going to do gorilla public programs along the train. When we arrive in Portland we're there to participate in a conference called Open Engagement which is about social practice and the theme is making things. Making things better, making things worse. And I feel like I do a lot of making things better and I feel like I do a lot of making things worse. So I wanted to try making things so I could be the holy trinity at Open Engagement. I'm doing a project there called 100 Dance Moves for Portland which is an exploration for me and a couple collaborators on how people's movements in a city can be charted and recreated and maybe even start a dance party. I can tell you more if you go stand over there. Or maybe not. Maybe I won't tell you anymore. We can at least touch things that I've made. Kind of. Alright. Thank you internet. You know who that is. Bye
Cool Joan. Just to clarify, you're specifically interested in food or all of it?
[Joan]: Okay. Food or artists. Whatever. Either or. I'm open for wherever I might be needed.
[Jeff]: You want the whole thing? Awesome. Cool, thank you.
Thank you BaseKamp. That's me thanking BaseKamp for the internet.
[Scott]: So see you all later and we'll follow up on the discussion list and let everybody know how the work groups go.
(Group splits up into groups 1:44:07.0 - 3:06:45.5)
END OF TRANSCRIPTION
Created on 2010-05-05 09:06:43.
Our discussions over the past weeks have foregrounded an understanding of plausible worlds as largely immaterial nodes of shared desire and exchange — as collective constructs in time, which exist as long as the collective will to pursue them is sustained. This conceptual mapping has gently helped avoid any excessively down-to-earth take on the notion of a “world”. But even worlds online and in time must contend with the question as to the relationship between “world” and “land”. So this week we’ll be talking with the Detroit-based instigators of LOVELAND, a micro real-estate project premised on using social microfunding and online tools to get people experimenting with and rethinking collective land use and ownership.
LOVELAND sells square inches of land in Detroit for $1 an inch. The project then uses these virtual, tiny-scale investments to fund real-world projects throughout the city. Inchvestors — that is, the people bankrolling the initiative one buck at a time — are able to access their land both on and offline, transforming the land in a mutually agreed-upon manner, with a goal of purchasing numerous pieces of real estate throughout the city and developing them around certain themes. Anyone involved can also transfer or sell inches to others.
Practically speaking, LOVELAND owns the property and merely extends social ownership to its inchvestors, making them less titleholders than stakeholders. The purchased inches are not legally binding and are not registered with the City of Detroit, keeping taxes and other unpleasantries of officialdom out of the picture. But it also puts the onus on the stakeholders to contend with existent legal instruments to ensure their interests are acknowledged. Art-historically, LOVELAND harks back to projects such as Gordon Matta Clark’s never fully realized “Fake Estates” — the interstitial gutterspaces he purchased from the City of New York in the 1970s — but significantly throws into the mix the unresolved issues of collective agency, common investment, and social use value.
Created on 2010-04-13 20:30:14.
This Tuesday is yet another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
We’ll be talking with the contributors and organizers at n.e.w.s. (www.northeastwestsouth.net) about their “paid usership” initiative.
n.e.w.s. itself is an online platform for the analysis of art-related activity, putting the emphasis on rethinking art’s economic underpinnings, focusing on the relationships between the attention economics of the mainstream and the smaller-scale shadow economies being experimented with. Recently, the group has initiated an open forum on the question of “remunerated usership” – and it is this aspect of the group’s work that will be at the heart of tonight’s discussion. Since its inception in 2008, n.e.w.s. has sought to maintain a model of payment (or partial payment) for putting content online, contending that value is always collectively produced through linguistic cooperation (polemics or just idle chatter) – that is, through the collective intellect. “People already get paid for online content,” they argue in the introduction to the forum, “but they are often the wrong people, because they are not all the people who worked to produce that content.” The forum’s objective is to discuss and evaluate the pros and cons of a paying people to use the internet, perhaps taking to heart Jean-Luc Godard’s remark in Six fois deux that television viewers ought to be paid to watch TV. Is it possible to leverage the potential of participative technologies and communities to ensure that user-produced value be remunerated? The very question is paradoxical inasmuch as n.e.w.s. itself is a non-commercial platform, without any institutional structural subsidy to pay its users, obliging the collective to both explore and test drive alternative models of exchange and collaboration – including gift economics.
Though fascinating, and perhaps economically coherent, the whole idea of moving from pay-for-use to paid-to-use seems to fly in the face of common sense. But could it be that for this very reason that it may point to a key component of a more plausible artworld?
Week 13: n.e.w.s. paid usership
(Audio set up chatter and group chatter 0:00:00 - 0:10:10.3)
[Scott]: Hey everybody! We've got a small but awesome crew here tonight who ventured out in the rain, the surprisingly chilly rain, just to be here. So thanks everybody for coming. Yeah, while we were trying to get the audio setup people were asking about what tonight's topic was and I was really trying to restrain myself from explaining (laughing). Just because we're going to be talking with you guys. But let me just super briefly introduce Steven Wright, who many of you have talked with during these weekly chats before and Renee Ridgway, who many of you may have talked with during these weekly chats before. They're both here to talk about the North East West South Project Initiative called paid usership. At least I think it's called paid usership. And
[Steven]: It is. And Scott, our colleague Prayas Abhinav will also be taking part and he should be online right now and he's going to be hooking up in the next few seconds.
[Scott]: Oh great! Yeah, I was wondering if Prayas was going to be able to join, I'm glad that he can. That is fantastic.
[Renee]: Yeah, his space heater seems to be a typical (expletive 0:11:28.6). Hang on; I'm going to try talking again.
[Steven]: He's online Renee. He's online.
[Renee]: I don't see him.
[Scott]: Yeah, just if you can add him to this chat? Whenever. To the text chat. And we'll go ahead and add him to the conference call.
[Renee]: Okay. Because I don't see him.
[Scott]: Yeah, me either. He might be hiding from us.
[Male Group Member]: Or just direct him to the BaseKamp site and have him clock on the...
[Scott]: Here. I'm going to add him to this chat even though I don't see his status as on. There he is. Ah ha.
[Renee]: There he is.
[Scott]: Rock on. We'll just add him to the chat now and then maybe once he gets on we can start to describe what you guys mean by paid usership and some of where this came from.
[Steven]: Prayas is actually joining us from Northeast India. From Sam, so it's really not easy to get in touch with him as it is extremely late at night there.
[Scott]: Prayas, are you there?
[Prayas]: Yeah, hi everyone! Yeah, I just got online.
[Steven]: Hey Prayas.
[Scott]: Thanks for joining us so late and taking the time out of your night to come and talk again with us.
[Prayas]: Sure (inaudible 0:13:12.9).
[Scott]: So yeah....
[Steven]: Are we going to start Prayas? Or should I start?
[Scott]: Yeah, let's just jump right into it. In general I think everyone here is really curious about what this whole initiative is all about.
[Renee]: Steven, would you like to start?
[Steven]: Well, I think… What is it all about? It's about the fact (inaudible 0:13:37.6). A minute ago a quote from (inaudible 0:13:42.5) where he says that working together supposes that we are able to trust the sharing of what we bring into the equation. Each person that brings some capacity of what if there's then they contribute something but they have to have the trust and how that capacity is going to be shared and used by other people. That's kind of the basis for a society and the basis for a community. It's the basis for doing anything collaborative. Strangely enough, it is not the basis for how our society, generally speaking, and for how our capitalist economy functions. When we look at what happens on the Internet it's an example of what happens in the neighborhood and it's what happens in the workplace. People contribute something but they are not paid for what they contribute. They are paid but not for what they contribute. So they are contributing more than what they are getting back. For example, today in a kind of (inaudible 0:15:02.7) configuration, if we (inaudible 0:15:03.8) idea is that knowledge and information plus value is produced through things like what we are doing right now. Like talking, like sharing ideas not sort of like just gabbing. Through that kind gabbing we can say " they did you read this?" (Inaudible 0:15:36.2). It doesn't appear like much is happening and yet what is happening is a kind of networked collaborative production of information and of value. The people who are producing that may not be getting a lot out of it because they are in a kind of exchange that what eventually happens is that there is somebody there to privatizes it and makes a whole (expletive 0:16:02.0) load of money off of it. And so the little crumbs that are spread out to the people that had actually been involved is nothing compared to the amount of value generated overall. And that is kind of what we called Web 2.0, not so much in the technical sense but in an economical sense of the term. News kind of comes along at a point where Web 2.0 would be a little bit highfalutin and fancy in a popular consciousness but in a business and scientific consciousness it's already on the cusp of shifting to Web 3.0. Web 3.0, we always say at n.e.w.s, is not a technical or it's not even a business model yet, it's a debate for...Yeah, semantic web, right. It is sometimes called the semantic web. Basically what it really is, it's a debate for control of public time and public space. This is where it all comes to be linked to the notion of Plausible Artworlds. Because, you know, the Artworld is a place like what I have just been describing and really takes place on a massive scale. Artists who are not highly (inaudible 0:17:27.8) and reputational, who are not extremely massive and visible to the intention of the economy are actually doing as much to produce the overall value of art as the ones who get highlighted because of their single signature. And being kind of (inaudible 0:17:48.4). We in plausible Artworlds would have to renegotiate the way value is distributed altogether. And so we thought one thing that should be done... Is how we value actually produced in these kind of situations? It's produced through the broad category of usership. I mean not every user is, of course, producing the same value. But if there were no users there would be no value. So in that sense it is through usership and through contributing and for debating and so one that all this value takes place. And so we felt that one way to go about it, in this way drawing on a (inaudible 0:18:41.5) made by (inaudible 0:18:42.2) back in the late 1970s - 1980s, where he said that people should actually get paid for watching television. I mean, he said of weird things and interesting things about television as opposed to cinema. He said that people should be paid to watch television. In other words, not even (inaudible 0:19:02.4) there should be paid TV.
It sounds so completely (inaudible 0:19:10.4). But in fact, and maybe it was (inaudible 0:19:17.1) at the time. But in fact, 30 years on, it actually seems to make sense from a purely economical logical point of view. Because it is the people that are using, for example, the Internet. People that are posting content, even the most trivial kind of content or event who are just engaging with content which has been posted are actually producing that value. And that value, once again as I said, ends up being privatized and harnessed by an individual or a consortium and not collectively of redistributed among the community that produced it. And so at n.e.w.s, Renee is better at talking about the origins at n.e.w.s than me, right since it's very beginning n.e.w.s, although it's a precariously funded kind of operation, it doesn't have a huge corporation or governmental or academy standing behind it. They have maintained the principle of payment, or I would say partial payment, for the posting of content online. So in other words, we actually pay people to use are collective blog. And perhaps we don't pay them enough. Or perhaps the whole notion of paying them at all is stupid. We don't know. But that has been our principal and it is a challenge and now it is an object of an online forum. But for reasons that I really just try to quickly outline there, we feel that it's something that is not purely idiosyncratic and at the same time it's not something that's really possible for us to do buy any order for the content of what we are proposing to be reflected in the form of how we are doing it we have maintained this notion of reiterated usership. Because it's the only way we feel, or I feel, that people who are contributing their competence, their skill or their capacities is for them to have trust that those things will be used in a way which is consistent with what they intended rather than simply be ripped off and used by somebody else. We hope that this points the way forward to a new economic model for a more plausible Artworld. Renee?
[Renee]: Um, yeah. Hello.
[Scott]: Hey Renee.
[Renee]: Hi. It's hard to follow that up Steven. I think you summed it up quite well. I guess that what I can contribute is to go back to this kind of situation in which Steven just accurately described the predicaments in which n.e.w.s at the moment exists. I think it's time now to see whether instead of trying to run on the model that we've been running on, and I'm going to be a bit practical about it, of doing the grant applications and winning prizes that has financed n.e.w.s. over the course of 1 1/2 years. We try to come up with something now where we not only kind of find a way to, maybe in the long term, find sustainability but in the very instance in the course of the last weeks have tried to come up with the ways in which we discuss different models. And those models that we were looking at, I think a lot of them were awesome. But this is something that we're trying to deal with in the sense of dealing with the online.
What I wanted to say about the origins of n.e.w.s. was the idea was to create a niche that there were... I mean, I'm sure there are other platforms that have some type of exchange systems for people in certain ways that are reiterated and I'd like to hear about them if anyone does know. But the niche that we were trying to develop was that in like Anderson's book "The Long Tail". We were trying to focus on at n.e.w.s. that we did it get some type of reiteration through actual (inaudible 0:24:19.2). So the very first time that n.e.w.s, when we originated, everybody was paid to contribute. We have ever since then, quite unsuccessfully I might add, not been able to pay people for contributions. And sometimes that's kind of mapped out through the different people. Certain people contribute more and other people contribute less. But it's much like Steven said with a certain type of trust that the contributions will be taken up by someone else and that we fill each other on as much as possible. That's what I wanted to say in reaction to what you just said at this moment.
Yeah, I'm reading the questions as they are coming up. Prayas that you want to say something?
[Prayas]: Yes, I want to (inaudible 0:25:18.3 - 0:25:47.7)
[Renee]: Sorry, I lost some of that is well. Could you repeat that?
[Prayas]: Yeah. (Inaudible 0:25:58.9) the different kinds of users (inaudible 0:26:05.0).
[Prayas]: (inaudible 0:26:06.2 - 0:26:23.6)
[Renee]: But, yeah, I guess...
[Scott]: Were actually having a lot of trouble. At least I am having a lot of trouble really following because of the connection. If you got that better on your end, Renee, could you paraphrase that?
[Renee]: What Prayas basically brought up, and I will try to reiterate this, if that's in the structure of n.e.w.s. There are people mentioned as contributors and the (inaudible 0:26:53.2) with n.e.w.s. was that contributors be paid for content. But I think that Prayas is making the distinction between people who are, for the sake of argument let's call them regular contributors, in comparison to those who contribute with comments. They could be anonymous or people who just had a text in reaction to an online forum. And at this moment there has been no negotiation with those two such things. With that clear?
[Steven]: Not exactly.
[Scott]: It came through clearly at least.
[Steven]: Yeah, the words were clear but I didn't quite get that concept. Can you repeat that Renee?
[Renee]: Okay. So as far as I understood, Prayas was making the distinction between those who are… Let's say we are all contributing to n.e.w.s. So people who are anywhere or anyone that wants to join and can, they just have to sign. But the original idea was that the contributors were originally started news were paid for the content of n.e.w.s. contributions. Price was making that point, as far as I understood. Which is not to say that that wouldn't change or would not change in a different situation.
[Steven]: Which means that, in other words, somebody who just adds a post or a response to something which has been posted does not necessarily reiterate or is not an automatic payment which is triggered by posting.
[Renee]: Exactly. Or that when you click on an ad, like Google ad words, you somehow create a system where money then goes somewhere to different people (inaudible 0:29:08.8) no. That does not happen.
[Steven]: One thing that would justify that is that, and this is a discussion that has taken place already on Plausible Artworlds, is that there is a difference between value and, let's say, symbolic capital.
[Steven]: We believe that capital is a form of value, of course, but it's only one form of value and we don't wish to see value reduced to capital. We believe that's… Well, value is a tricky thing but capital, for example, symbolic capital, social capital, cultural capital, all these forms of capital are always produced by labor power. And that is something which is difficult to see. It's somehow systemically concealed. It's hard to see an object, the value of that object, being produced by anything other than desire and by subjectivity. It's hard to see that there is actually dead labor embedded within that object. It's true that there is another kind of value which is gained and calculated which cannot be reduced to the general equivalent which is gained by, I don't know, going to concerts or going to debates, conferences, discussions, posting comments on web sites like n.e.w.s. or Plausible Artworlds. And that it is another thing actually to engage in that labor which goes into producing and structuring the base which exists... I think that in the long term this is one of the things that the form hopes to raise. Whether people should actually, I mean, we're not actually supposing that our hypothesis is correct. It's a hypothesis that we want to verify and confirm and contest and so on. Whether it's actually makes any sense to pay people to use or whether… I mean, if the 20th century model actually wrong? And do we need to create a new one? That's what we are wondering. But we are wondering and not sort of (inaudible 0:31:47.4) and then asking that people agree (inaudible 0:31:51.1).
[Scott]: That doesn't make any sense. Earlier you said that it made kind of perfect economical sense, or at least under a certain type of logic.
[Steven]: Not exactly.
[Steven]: Well, I try to make that case Scott but...
[Scott]: Yeah (laughing).
[Steven]: I can see that, because of course...
[Scott]: But by "doesn't make any sense" do you mean that you are actually a proponent of me and or is it something that's sustainable or is it something that is ethical or that it's…
[Steven]: I believe that is both ethical… In fact I believe that it is kind of an onion layer form. I think that it is an extremely counter intuitive proposal but I don't think that it is a revolutionary one. I suspect that capitalism is going to accommodate itself to it. I think that it is not so much a challenge to capital accumulation as it is an entirely new way of going about it. I'm not saying that it is not without a certain perversity from an anti capitalist perspective because it's true. I also believe, in my own perspective, I think that we need to oppose capitalism. And I don't think that this, this is opposing a certain type of capital accumulation but it is not opposing capital accumulation per say. You know? But I want to make that distinction really clear to that I do lots of things without being paid and not even wanting to be paid. Even though some of those things are more difficult than the stuff I actually get paid for without even having to ask for it. You know? Like, I teach at an art school and that doesn't take too much effort on my part and they actually pay me to do it. That's part of the joke.
The other stuff, which takes a whole lot more effort, I don't get paid for. But that's okay because I feel that value is being engendered in a way and I am not being dispossessed of it. Like when we collaborate in something. You know how in these collaborative situations you collaborate and then the other person turns around and sells your ideas down the river. Well, then you feel really (expletive 0:33:59.3) and you don't want to do that anymore. But when you actually feel that you are a part of something that is very giving and taking you were kind of a part of a gift (inaudible 0:34:08.8). Then there's value in which you were partaking of is actually equivalent or greater to what you were putting into it. But this is not capital. This is not symbolic capital. It's a different kind of non quantifiable (inaudible0:34:26.1)...
[Renee]: Yeah, it's...
[Steven]: Sorry, I'm just finishing this line. When we're talking about posting online context, which actually is (inaudible0:34:38.2) produced in value. For example, the people who fund n.e.w.s. If we do a really good job with what they are funding then of course they're getting their money's worth so to speak. So then that's really not fair to the people who were helping them. Those idiots that they don't even know and are even sure who it is getting their money's worth. It's not fair that some of that money doesn't trickle up or down to them.
[Female group member]: But who are you talking about actually getting paid? Because to me, the most direct route for paying someone to produce content is to pay for the content. There are all types of... Newspapers now have to try to find new models for their subscriber base and things like paying for articles, paying for monthly subscriptions and things like that. I mean, if you are getting grant money for people to write something that's one thing. But to make it sustainable… I guess how are they getting paid? And do you see someone needing to pay for content in order to give the contributors money?
[Renee]: Should I answer that?
[Steven]: Yeah, you can or I can. Go ahead and Renee.
[Renee]: Well I was just going to say that newspapers now are setting up models where you can only read certain things or certain pages and those are for the privileged users. To answer your direct question about n.e.w.s.so far, it has been financed by grants that not to say that everything that is at n.e.w.s. has been financed. The other thing is that there is a prize involved, which is actually not just a prize it is a conditional prize, in which one actually has to produce something to get the second half of the money in that sense. So right now content and news is a mix.
I wanted to say something in response to Steven and what he is describing in his own personal mind as a (inaudible 0:37:04.0) model where certain things for which I think many of us share and do, either to teach or at our jobs or whenever we do to pay the bills so to speak, and end that is able to sustain our lives so that we can do other things in which we don't get paid for. This is also something that has basically become kind of the status quo or acceptable and that you're expected to do a lot of things for free. And this is actually a lot of the premise of not having any regrets and Chris Anderson's other book called "Free". And this is a larger discussion about what is happening and Web 2.0 and what could possibly be the future. Steven you want to add something to that?
[Steven]: Well, that's kind of what I was going to say. I mean I've been kind of actively involved in n.e.w.s. since its beginning. There is a whole bunch of is that were involved. Basically n.e.w.s. is an initiative of Renee Ridgway and the deal was we would all post at least a certain amount of content and we would be paid for that initial posting with the grant money that had been already received on the condition that then we would go forward and continue. It was a modest but a decent some. I mean, it wasn't like a lot of money. But it was what you would get paid to write an article in general in a current publication. But with the understanding that we would go on and continue to discuss. And it seemed like a pretty generous kind of an arrangement. And then, you know, some people dropped out in some other people kind of hooked in and that's the way things are. It has continued with that model. What has changed along the way is the need to find the means to continue and to sustain this kind of economic model. Because it is (inaudible 0:39:26.9) we can't simply turn to funding bodies and say that we are paying people to post content and " haven't you heard about review rated usership?" Because of course, they haven't. Because we are the ones who were talking about it. In order to be able to talk you can't ask people to contribute to a forum on page usership without paying them because that would really be (inaudible 0:39:50.3) your own hypothesis seriously. So it is (inaudible 0:39:55.1) to look at various other economic mechanisms. But what we hope to (inaudible 0:40:00.9) people will contribute to the forum will make arguments for and against and also attempt to quantify. Not simply "yes I should be paid" or " no way should not be, this is crazy. Let's keep money out of the Internet and let's try to make Web 3.0 a non capitalized form of value production". That kind of argument would be very resonant with many people. We always say we want to be paid. Okay, how much do we want to be paid? Of course we all want to be paid $1,000,000 but exactly how much do you think your ideas and your contributions or you're not in contributions are actually worth?
Prayas he was a great example in a discussion recently where he described how it was that Google calculated how much YouTube was actually worth. The basis of the calculation, which was very complex of course, was how many people had ever used YouTube.
[Scott]: Right. How many hours of content.
[Steven]: The overall number of users. And the funny thing is if that ended up being a (expletive 0:41:23.9) of a lot of money. But all those people who produced all that value, let's just hope they got some use value out of it because they shouldn't get any of the money that was distributed basically among three people.
[Scott]: Well I have a question guys about money. The idea is to pay people but like you said, Renee, that this is an unfunded venture largely. But what that really means, as you both said kind of tying until last week's chat, that it is funded but it's just funded out of your pockets. You get grants as an artist or a writer or whatever and you work out a job and you pony up and some people pay more than others. But basically in order for this model to work somebody has to pay. So it's not just getting paid but somebody else has to pay. And so I wonder that if you think about the sustainability of this model it sort of seems like to half the people pay and the other half get paid? Or does everybody pay the same amount that they get? Where does it come from? You've been talking about where it goes. How has that discussion played out so far?
[Renee]: (Laughing) Prayas are you awake?
[Scott]: Yeah what is it like for the morning for you?
[Renee]: Guys do you want to… Sorry. Did I interrupt you Steven?
[Steven]: No, let Prayas say that. I mean, I would have lots of things to say about that but go ahead Prayas.
[Prayas]: In keeping in tradition with the most users (inaudible 0:43:16.0 - 0:43:28.4) can contribute more and some users (inaudible 0:43:35.3 - 0:44:07.7).
[Renee]: Yeah. Did you guys get that?
[Renee]: He just said that tangible and intangible and that some people contribute more and some contribute less...
[Scott]: And that it can never be equal. Yeah.
[Renee]: Yeah but just that it can never be equal.
[Scott]: Right. But even know it can never be equal…
[Steven]: (inaudible 0:44:28.2) to start with.
[Steven]: You know we're not talking about… Prayas you only just talked for about 45 seconds and I talked for 6 minutes so… (Inaudible 0:44:41.4)
But, you know, that is a double edged sword because blabbermouths are worth more but they're worth a lot less under certain circumstances. The important thing is that, and we're not talking about n.e.w.s. here we're talking about collaborative initiatives in general were value is being produced collectively and that's basically everything (inaudible 0:45:03.6). Because the people don't feel they are being systematically ripped off because if they feel that…
[Scott]: Well it wouldn't work, it would collapse.
[Steven]: Well that kind of value production will cease to function. Quite simply.
[Scott]: Right. You are not saying that the people are not systematically ripped off, just that they don't feel that way. Or we don't feel that way.
[Steven]: Well, I think when you were talking… That's a good question Scott. When you were talking about capital then you can quantify and objectionally describe where value is being produced and it doesn't matter what people subjectively feel. But in another way, of course, one being subjected as it's hard to tell people that what they desire is not worth anything. And what they are getting out of something is less than what they are putting in. And that's the kind of thing that n.e.w.s. is... To be more specific about the question that was raised, you know initially n.e.w.s. was funded and continues to be funded through a Dutch foundation. To be honest, what partially led to this forum was the fact that n.e.w.s. is writing a book because we joined an essay writing competition which had a significant prize, cash prize, attached to it. That cash prize allowed us to sustain ourselves and had a certain capital injection into the project.
[Steven]: In fact, that essay writing prize itself is not just kind of a straight flat out thing. Someone raised the question "is this an economic or an artistic project?" Well, essay writing competition was also both. It was initiated by us, by someone who feels that essay writing is a form of artistic production and it is more interesting than object production and so on. I mean, we are not alone in all of this. There is kind of recognition that wealth can be redistributed for different types of value production. We are at the self reflective end of the production chain. So it is an artistic and an economic project but at the same time it is (inaudible 0:47:41.3) which is attempting to self reflexively look at what this is all about.
[Renee]: I wanted to say that's...
[Scott]: There are a few questions by the way. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead Renee.
[Renee]: No, go ahead. I just wanted to say that the funding agency that used to fund us does not fund is any more.
(Scott]: That is a shame.
[Renee]: Hence the paid usership forum as a desperate plea for other opinions on how to setup models and to test out models and to think through this together.
[Scott]: Yeah. There were a few questions on the text chat. People here might have some too.
[Scott]: Where do we start?
[Steven]: Here's a good question. Is it utopian to pay for user made content? I mean, you can pay a photograph or a text or whatever which is kind of normal for us (inaudible 0:48:50.8) when you get to the scale of the Internet it's very difficult to say who produced what.
[Scott]: And there's a kind of (inaudible 0:49:01.1) process, there's an editorial process and um…
[Scott]: Different from something like YouTube for example.
[Renee]: What is the question?
[Scott]: We will repeat it again.
[Steven]: What I would say is a whole (expletive 0:49:28.9) of a lot more value is being produced on the Internet because there's a whole (expletive 0:49:33.8) more people that are involved in it. Which means that there is a whole (expletive0:49:37.1) of a lot more for me to figure out how to redistribute that wealth because otherwise what happens is that it is privatized and that community produced value ends up in the hands of very few who didn't produce it at all.
[Renee]: Yeah. Maybe it is just to say that there is no (inaudible 0:50:00.0) going on (inaudible 0:50:01.8). No, the only thing I edit out is spam.
[Scott]: So anybody here can post anything they want and you guys get paid?
[Steven]: No. That's what Prayas is saying. To get paid you have to be a user rather than just a contributor. To say just a contributor is to, of course, reveal something of a paradox of a contradiction in about how we approach this. But that's what I was saying earlier. Maybe every time you add a word that should trigger a payment to your account. We don't have a mechanism for that. But that is an argument that could be made. But as it stands now is it that only beyond a certain degree of participation and contribution like we'll say "hey that person has really made a vague effort". We would say easily if someone was really involved in a discussion. It's not like we're still overrun with people adding content so we can be really selective about all this. But yeah, of course, anybody who was participating actively like Prayas or Renee or me would be certainly paid. Is that right Renee?
[Renee]: Yeah. Well right now there's nobody to pay anymore.
[Steven]: (Laughing) yeah. What they're worth any ways.
[Renee]: The thing about it actually is that someone who would probably contribute to the forum and was gonna talk about different types of (inaudible0:51:59.8) labor, so to speak. Labor in society and just focusing on, let's say, domestic house work primarily done by women of the last centuries and raising children and such. So I said to her" well if you contribute this text then next time I'm in London I will come and clean your house...
...as an exchange". Because these are the types of things that are also starting to happen and I realize how much we can also ask of each other between ourselves but also when people want to contribute and not necessarily those they are making demands. But this is the kind of thing we're interested in and also what type of negotiations (inaudible 0:52:45.9). And how does that manifest itself either offline or online, so to speak?
[Scott]: Do you have a question?
[Female group member]: I guess I just sort of feel like it's not about, I'm sorry if I'm not very articulate right now. It's not about giving people money, it's about changing people's minds about what they want to pay for. So like if people value this content they should pay for it if they are able. And if that happened... It's the whole type of thing about contributing to organizations that give relief, the word is escaping me. It's more about changing the way people spend money than it is about saying what it is they should spend money on. If people paid money for what they value then everything would be different. I don't know. That's what this makes me think of.
[Steven]: Well, we are not so much talking about people paying money for what they value as being paid for what produces value.
[Scott]: Well but you guys are people too. You guys are paying money for what you value. It's not like, that's what I was asking you earlier. It's not like this is… It's a conceptual project but it's not as if it is coming out of thin air. You know, there are people being paid and there are also people paying so that has to factor in there somewhere. You're not asking people to pay that is part of the model. It's just not one that you are foregrounding.
[Renee]: And not paying would be with time primarily.
[Scott]: Well, if people are getting paid money than it has to come from somewhere. I mean, I'm not trying to harp on the money thing I'm just saying that, you know.
This little equation, I'm missing a little piece of it somewhere and it's where the money is coming from. I mean, you have mentioned it but it doesn't seem to factor into the conceptualization of this so much. (Laughing) blood money.
[Renee]: Well yeah, it's like saying basically the way I gamble, you know? It's like the investments that I make or the project proposals that I write and I fortunately have other kind of income that is created by another profession that enables me to do n.e.w.s. So I run off a (inaudible 0:55:39.5) economy in another (inaudible 0:55:42.5) which then because it is an (inaudible 0:55:45.5) take away from my time that I would actually be able to put into n.e.w.s. Is that what you were kind of asking?
[Scott]: Um, yeah. Well, sort of. Yes? Yeah, I guess I was being a little bit more… Yeah, definitely. Some money is coming from project grants, some money is coming from, you know, like...
[Renee]: (inaudible 0:56:12.2)
[Scott]: Yeah, but you are proposing a more… You guys are proposing a reproducible model. You're not just saying "hey are we awesome because we got this project and were distributing the money" you are saying " they wouldn't it be cool if." And so in the "if equation" that doesn't really factor in the fact that you guys got the grant. I mean, it could. That could be one way of doing it. You know, artists spend a certain amount of time. Or anybody that could be argued as grant worthy spends a certain amount of time pooling some of their writing times and writing grants and spending a certain amount of that on other people who may be are less conceptually part of the project but they feel should be paid. You know...
[Scott]: And so it's like "hmmm."
[Renee]: All I wanted to say is that maybe the term that I'm trying to articulate here in a way that I am just not going to, in a complicated way but just keep it simple. Like this network surplus value aspect to the collective of how we all pull together and redistribute the wealth, except that there really isn't any wealth, in a sense that the money that we got for the prize we were able to then conduct our own kind of open call which then was able to allocate a prize. So the money was then taken up in distributed elsewhere. These types of things are what we're trying to kind of experiment with n.e.w.s. and to further the thinking. To further the discourse. I'm not sure that it's working but...
[Scott]: I hope the publication gets written, you know? Because otherwise you have to pay back the money right?
[Scott]: I said I hope the publication gets written because otherwise you have to give the money back right?
[Renee]: Oh thanks Scott.
[Scott]: You have to shake everybody down that you gave money to. Say "hey remember when we gave you a check?"
[Scott]: You'll have to shake everyone down that you were given money to and be like "um."
[Renee]: Now I'm not going to sleep tonight.
[Scott]: No, it will all work out.
[Renee]: Prayas are you there?
[Scott]: Are you hearing this Prayas?
[Scott]: Write your section! No, I'm just kidding.
[Renee]: Prayas do want to comment on that?
[Prayas]: Um, no. I think you have (inaudible 0:58:41.7).
[Steven]: I wanted to answer Megan's question. You asked whether we can say what is the wealth that we think might be distributable and in what way. Of course we have been talking largely about how we try to redistribute the wealth on our own small scale at n.e.w.s. But in fact, this is much more than about n.e.w.s. We only do it that way at news because it would be inconsistent with our own principles not to do it that way. But what we really think is that there is a whole [expletive 0:59:21.8) of a lot of value that is being produced in places other than n.e.w.s. We don't think we are producing about much value. We really just think that we're having a discussion about producing value and we hope to do it in a way that is consistent with what we are for proposing. We really think that in most every place there are people contributing for whatever reason and these kind of debates, in chats, in (inaudible 0:59:53.7) and just sort of gabs. Value was actually almost inadvertently and undenounced to the participants or the shareholders being produced. We think that really that doesn't make any sense that those people are not somehow being reiterated because actually wage labor disappears from our society. You know, time needs freed up for this value. It's being produced so why are the producers not being paid? It doesn't make sense.
[Renee]: Can I just interject one thing? I mean, this goes back to the book that we're writing. It's really what is expected of one, and I'm speaking from just my personal experience. You don't have to be paid you are instead getting attention. And attention be that visibility be that you continue a career etc. etc. This is what it basically is the tradeoff and most people think that this is also the way it should be and it is assumed that having your name highlighted on the door that is the way you are able to give something back. I think that what we are working on now, and simplified terms, is trying to question this all type of assumption.
[Steven]: Yet basically…
[Scott]: Hey Steven? Would you mind if someone asked a question here? I'm sorry. I was just trying to queue it up but missed my chance. Would that be okay? Can you hold on to that thought for just a second? Okay, okay.
[Chris]: Yeah but, being paid and getting attention is better. It's like people have got to realize that a lot of things that they do have value and that's one of the things that I was thinking.
[Steven]: Well, what Renee was just saying now is that what we have observed if that a lot of people are not interested in attention. In fact, attention economics is the dominant model in our society and certainly within our artists' society, but it is not the only model. There are also what we call shadow practices. And I think among those shadow practices there are practices that don't seek to be as high ranking as possible. The attention economy. I mean what we are doing right now, for example, is an instance of that. That actually we must feel it's otherwise we wouldn't have all joined together and really odd hours of different times around the world to engage in this conversation that we didn't think was even some sort of collective value being produced together. We're not trying to get as many people on here as possible. I mean everyone is welcome to join but the object is really more to have a discussion consistent with the notion that defines this series of conversations and not to make sure we can fast track our way into some high end exhibition space that allows us to capitalize on these ideas. That really is not the objective. So attention is not the only thing. I would say that once again (inaudible 1:03:35.1) of course is tapping into the idea (inaudible1:03:39.3) philosophy that attention getting and attention paying is all uniform of recognition. But it's kind of a perverted capitalized form of recognition. Of course recognition and the need for love is a very important thing. It's an essential part of feeling human but it has come perverted into an attention economics which has become the dominant form of cutting edge capital accumulation today. And so making money and getting attention are not the objects for a lot of people. That's my personal opinion that it is not a worthy objective of human existence. But that doesn't mean that people don't need to be acknowledged and reiterated at some point for their production of value. And it certainly doesn't mean that other people should be paid for the value that they're producing.
[Scott]: To point out Aaron's question, just to clarify; we have been talking about money a lot just because that is sort the key thing that you have been focusing on. But also you have been focusing on other things. Renee talked about exchange and other things and we've also been talking a lot about… Well, we've been playing with words a lot. For instance, paying attention is part of how people are remunerated. There is an investment, you are spending time, you are paying attention and there are a lot of things that are exchanged and given that are not capital or at least not capital money, right? I mean, that's a big part of what has been coming out of these talks. Am I right about that? I guess I'm not asking a universal question. Hasn't this been coming out of these talks and isn't that a part of where you guys are coming from or are you really just saying that you think it's important to just focus on money as much as possible?
[Steven]: As much what?
[Scott]: I guess what I ate… I could have probably said it in 10 words. Buy paying, you do mean other things besides cash. Cold hard cash, right? I am just clarifying back.
[Steven]: Yes we do, Scott. But to be clear, we also pay cold hard cash.
[Steven]: That's true. I was just going to respond to Aaron by saying that yes collective value is not reducible to monetary capital. It is not just about dollars and cents but it is also about dollars and cents. And when we talk about paid usership we are talking about handing over cash. But we're not only talking about that. But I think that if you refuse to talk about that then that is a very interesting position. It is a radical take on the whole remunerating usership position but it is not the one that n.e.w.s. has collectively put forward. I am certainly hoping that somebody is going to take it up (inaudible 1:07:17.6). Do you see what I mean?
[Greg]: I will speak for Scott and say yes.
[Steven]: (inaudible 1:07:30.2) but for sure, when we talk about it we are actually… I think that every case… Let me say it this way. Every case where somebody is making money from collectively produced value then we should be talking about equating value of money to redistribute it. Do you see what I mean? In those cases, of course, with a value in question and the knowledge in question is not monitarized that it is not necessarily talked about as value. In fact, it's probably much more interesting to talk about either symbolic forms of payment to be arranged.
[Greg]: Steven, this is Greg. Or Renee, or Prayas. Any of you. I was wondering if there is any other examples that are out there that you could point to that you think work in a similar model? I said more generally a kind of reminded me of a more shareware model. But I'm curious if there are any other models that you could point to that function in a similar way as n.e.w.s. Or are you the only game in town?
[Renee]: I would not say that. No, um... Well let's put it this way. What comes to mind just off the top of my head is that I know of other sites that are institutions that have a structural subsidy so to speak. Whether that the governmental or private. And that they then hire people to blog and there are a lot of them. So this is something that happens if we just set a limit to not newspapers but as a cultural section of the world in the larger sense of the word, there are many types of these sites. There are many sites to operate this way. They have an institutions with a large operating budget and they invite people to blog whether that be about whenever subjects they decide or what topic they want to do. It's usually a top down structure which means that the agenda is put forth from " this is what we want you to write about" and " could you please do this" and " this is how much you will get paid". And I'm not even sure if it's always per word or what kind of renumeratation, because I'm not part of that, but there are many sites out there that do that.
[Greg]: But that's not what you're doing is it?
[Renee]: Well, no. no.
[Greg]: So you are the only...
[Renee]: I think that the...Sorry?
[Greg]: (Laughing) no, go ahead.
[Renee]: No, I just wanted to say that that is not what we are doing. I think that's that is something that we are actually addressing and this way of trying to... No, we don't really have this kind of agenda other than our own kind of research of what we are working on at the moment which is what we have been trying to share with you of why we're instigating this discussion at n.e.w.s. Steven, do you want to add to that?
[Steven]: Um, sorry. I was just reading the questions.
[Scott]: We've got parallel conversations going on in text and in audio. It always happens that we can try to feed them into one another.
[Greg]: I don't need a closed answer. I mean, I don't need a perfect summarization of or answer to my question. I'm just posing that really just as a talking point. If Aaron wants to chime in with his questions than I am more than happy to hear about them to.
[Renee]: Um, Prayas are you there?
[Prayas]: Yes I am still here.
[Scott]: Very in synched response.
[Renee]: Prayas do you know of other sites that, Greg's question, that operate in these ways?
[Prayas]: Um, on other sites like (inaudible1:12:18.0 - 1:13:39.0)
[Steven]: I think that n.e.w.s. is, I think, unique and actually explicitly organizing a discussion about paid usership. In fact I think the term doesn't really exist. If you would do a Google search on paid usership I don't know what you would find. I mean, we never really tried doing that so we just sort of figured out it was something we wanted to talk about. But I think that in every gift economy there is a sense of paid usership. Of course when you give something it is well known that you were also getting something. And by engaging in a gift economy you actually are engaging in a certain kind of, I mean the, whole (inaudible1:14:34.2) principle is based on that. And we hope to actually draw and command on the really fascinating stuff written about this really fascinating part of human exchange. That we want to draw on as a resource and I and deliberately using terms that are related to battle paragon, to kind of make our case. Or at least have a case argued in a public debate.
[Renee]: Yeah. As much as that can be public that people would actually know what n.e.w.s. is doing, I would not say that we have large readership.
[Scott]: So how do you think n.e.w.s's proposal works with other, well actually what may reverse that? How do you think other mostly artists initiatited micro granting systems fit in with what n.e.w.s. is proposing with this initiative? You know, people who from one way or another pool resources either from grants or getting it from somewhere else or from work or in some cases asking a number of people to donate an incredibly small amount and then pooling and giving it to someone or some group of people who they feel deserve it. How do you feel that those kinds of initiatives meet up to this proposal? I mean I can think of a lot of examples. I'm sure you can think of a few.
[Steven]: Give us an example.
[Scott]: Some of the other people that we were talking to in this series like the Incubate Sunday Soup Project. Theresa, who is here, as was talking about FEAST, which is the Brooklyn based almost the same model but blown up on a scale that only a city like New York can sustain. We're like 500 people will get together and pay just a few dollars for something that is way more valuable. Like a meal that would cost a lot more than it actually costs a lot less because you make in bulk and they use the money to fund. Everybody gets to vote on the artist projects that are proposed. So everyone that comes can propose a project and everyone votes and the money goes to fund some project because they think that this is a worthwhile contribution to society. Or they're like it or whatever. Those are just a couple of examples. You know, we're looking at (inaudible 1:17:47.8) initiated project The Fundred Dollar Bill Project. Obviously this isn't coming directly from artists. Although I think that artists and another culture produces spearheaded this kind of research. But it has played itself out in all sorts of… The Obama campaign for example.
[Steven]: That's what I was thinking Scott.
[Renee]: Yeah. Well we are definitely not that organized.
[Scott]: Yeah. I'm not actually comparing but you guys or the project is putting forth a proposal and the proposal I hope it doesn't assume that they can never be met or that nothing can ever stand up to it. I was just curious how these other things stand up to the criteria that are being formed. This discussion that is being held was motivated by certain desires. Are those desires being met at all? Do you know to mean?
[Renee]: Yeah. The one differentiation that I think that we're trying to start out with or make is that this is about and comparison to offline. This an online attempt to put it (inaudible 1:19:00.5). Of course, there are other places where I'm not sure if things are voted on and that money is distributed back to the other within the entire community online as a remunerated, that it's remunerated. But the examples that you give, do they also have enough offline/online life? Where the one thinks sustain them and then something else? Or is it really in the context of being offline? Because the examples that I think of like Joshua Green's project and Steve Lambert has also given away money in Washington Square Park for the complex festival and people would decide on which projects would be funded and they would gather money. But maybe I think Aaron is also suggesting (inaudible 1:20:08.7). Is that true? I can’t click on all the links at the same time. I’m sorry.
[Scott]: Me either. I’m freezing.
[Aaron]: Yeah, I was just thinking of (1:20:23.0) the money that she puts around in a gifty kind of way.
[Renee]: So Randolph is also a contributor to you.
[Greg]: Yep, yep. Oh, that's where she gets all the stacks of money.
[Renee]: No, no! It's not true (inaudible 1:20:40.6)
[Greg]: That's like a little insider process. The money just keeps giving away, and you give her some. I see how this works. It's incestuous.
[Renee]: I actually gave the money that she gave out back to her. Um, am I supposed to go through these links at the same time?
[Scott]: Why don't you do it one at a time?
[Renee]: I can barely handle the overload.
[Scott]: I know. It's been crazy.
[Steven]: Well, what I'm noticing with the links just off the top of my head is that what we're talking about is paid usership. It's not paid participation. It isn't like the participants decide how (inaudible 1:21:37.2) should be allocated. It's really like isolated individuals, isolated in every respect should simply be paid because (inaudible 1:21:50.1). It has to be a hard hit rather than a touchy feely love and peace kind of collectivity, like let's do things together against this nasty cold republic of strategic nationality. No. I'm not against that. What we're talking about is something much (inaudible 1:22:22.1). Just pay the (expletive 1:22:29.3) workers that are doing the work!
[Scott]: You're not actually suggesting that companies do this specifically right? You're saying that...
[Steven]: Well, I think companies... Actually, I am Scott.
[Scott]: Okay. Well that s the first time it's come up in this conversation, I've been asking.
[Steven]: For me it was clear. For now it's an experiment, obviously. And that what I was trying to say in an answer that I had typed to Greg awhile back. It's a gesture, it's an experimental gesture. But like every experimental gesture, it also (inaudible 1:23:10.8) in its life to have a kind of contagious effect on the real. Yes I believe that companies are ripping off. Once again, it's like we talked about last week, the surplus value of the people who are producing the values. I think they should redistribute that value to those who produced it. And so I think that it's particularly evident on the internet and I think that we are limiting our scope back (inaudible 1:23:46.4). Basically I think that every capitalist enterprise, every company, every business should (inaudible 1:24:01.7) paid or at least partially paid (inaudible 1:24:08.1). That's kind of what we're saying what the value is producing. (Inaudible 1:24:20.3).
[Renee]: Yeah, to go back to what you said earlier Scott. I don't think that we are in any way, shape or form capable of, right now at this moment, to organize to where we are pulling a large group and large amounts and then actively decide how to redistribute that. The only example (inaudible 1:24:50.4) is that we set up an (inaudible 1:24:56.6) to seek answers to our own questions...
And then we did the payments or the prize money to (inaudible 1:25:07.1)
[Scott]: Yeah. That laughter wasn't actually based on what you were saying. We're not teasing you or anything. Sorry Renee, it was this link that Aaron sent. I wasn't expecting this kind of...fantastic. Pretty sweet.
[Greg]: Although, you know what's fascinating about this is like how much different it is going to a large university where you take a class with 250 other students where your papers are graded by your peers, essentially TAs. I mean really, how different is it? Aside from the fact that there's perhaps in the scenario in the website, a very explicive exchange of capital whereas it's more subtle when you're going to school for free and you're expected to have some sort of TA-ship that is work, as Steven might say, a wage slave. Reading hundreds of undergraduate papers if you will. I don't know
[Scott]: And they're doing a really good job like fighting against universal health care.
[Greg]: Steven got cut off.
[Scott]: Oh he did?
[Greg]: I'm glad he didn't hear me say that then.
[Renee]: I guess there is also the question... I'm trying to multitask here and I'm not a very good multi-tasker and its 1:45am. The thing that is brought up here is also what's going on online with the (inaudible 1:26:58.4). People are getting paid to do all different types of tasks that maybe instead of a (inaudible 1:27:07.5) or a grant that they're being paid to do these things. And some of those things are, to the extent, even writing recommendations for books that they haven't read for example. This whole controversy of to which degree that this is basically acceptable and especially that (inaudible 1:27:31.2) can be used in a non ethical ways and how people think about there's all different types of ways to make money on the internet. I mean, this is a very broad large topic that I'm only really starting to gather enough about and I think there are more people out there who know more about this than I do. But, this is something that comes into play as well.
[Scott]: It'd be awesome if we could get paid to read n.e.w.s. You know? To browse your sight.
[Steven]: (Inaudible 1:28:15.7) there is a serious argument for that because it's not just a joke. It's true that by reading n.e.w.s. in some way if there is any value posted on n.e.w.s. then by reading it then somehow you're I involved either in the production or the (inaudible 1:28:33.6) of that value.
[Scott]: I was wondering if you were going to argue that sort of the authorship of the reader is valuable.
[Steven]: (inaudible 1:28:47.8)
[Renee]: Yeah the author. The author or the reader.
[Steven]: Prayas is best to deal with that. Prayas organized a forum on the productive value of working on the internet.
[Renee]: Prayas, are you still awake?
[Scott]: He's sawing logs.
[Renee]: He's there!
[Renee]: Talk about your broken webs.
[Prayas]: Broken webs (inaudible 1:29:27.2 - 1:30:05.5)
[Renee]: So introverts in a sense to fill the definition of (inaudible 1:30:09.3). That people are passively participating so to speak, but not being passive. That the action of lurking is an action, it's active.
[Scott]: That relates to the ongoing discussion of slackerdom too right?
[Steven]: Absoulutely. As teachers we tend to say that lurkers are parasites or poachers or something. But yeah, we have to think that in (inaudible 1:30:47.8) slacking are also forms of the greater community (inaudible 1:30:54.9) action.
[Greg]: I have to teach a freshman seminar and part is a 40% participation grade and some of my brightest students don't say a single word the entire semester and I think there is something to be said about somebody who just listens. It doesn't make for a very interesting class but not all classes are that interesting anyway. I don't know. It's interesting. I love that idea of lurking in real space and time.
[Renee]: So we should all get paid for reading and for listening.
[Greg]: Yep. Yeah, absolutely.
[Steven]: And for lurking.
[Steven]: That seems like insane doesn't it? What if we created a forum called Paid Lurkership? Then I would be suggesting that we should be paid for lurking, you know?
[Renee]: Yeah, yeah.
[Scott]: That's great!
[Greg]: But then again, it does assume that there is something to lurk. It comes back to that question that something is there to be seen or heard or maybe not. Maybe it's that awkward silence were you sit in a room and all lurking together. I don't know. That sounds like borderline meditation. No offense to anyone who meditates.
[Scott]: Yeah. Lurking seems so active. Lurking is such an active term. I wonder if it's even a good one. I like loitering because, you know, you're definitely not supposed to be there and you're specifically (expletive 1:32:40.4) off whereas lurking actually requires some work to hide. Do you think we should get paid to loiter too or do you think that it should be for people who are only paying attention? What about the people who aren't paying attention?
(Inaudible background comment)
[Steven]: That question really, I think, highlights the distinction between value per say and capital per say, as a form of value. If you wanted to define lurking as somebody who is not paying attention that would be producing value on top of the type of value that was already existent there but wasn't spinning back into the equation. It was going into a different type of economy. (Inaudible 1:33:44.0) economies like touching but one wouldn't be feeding into the other. Do you see what I mean? It's like somebody who's working on a website won't be gaining something from that but would be feeding back into that value in a different place. So there you would have to calculate it in a different way.
[Scott]: What if I was really not paying attention and doing something entirely different. Like working a side job? Or like something while you guys were talking? Wouldn't you feel hurt?
[Steven]: Scott, we know you.
[Renee]: We have to say goodbye to Prayas, he's checking out. He's tired. It's 5:30am.
(Multiple goodbyes from group)
[Female group member]: Um, it seems like there might be three different types of usership or contributorship. One would be lurking. Either like just visiting by counting clicks or if you could measure how a long person is staying to see if they're an engaged lurker. And the other two would be someone who contributes and someone who inspires other discourse. And it seems like maybe a way of evaluating and finding a (inaudible 1:35:22.9) way to redistribute the wealth is generated by internet browsing would be to look at all three of those ways. Like, and I'm saying to maybe even discard the click through lurkers. You know what I mean? It's like channel surfing.
[Renee]: Yes, we need to find a way to set up where at least if you clicked on one of our banner ads so to speak, this was something that Prayas was getting at, you would actually be able to redistribute funds somehow for example.
[Female group member]: Right. Like if you took any single model like counting clicks and passive lurkers aren't helping advance the content and contributing members could just be blabbermouths and then people would be trying to make money by just saying the most rather than saying the least. To compensate people for inspiring other discourse would just kind of harbor a bunch of sensationalism, which is basically the problem with the rest of the media that people do for money now.
[Scott]: Getting paid per comment on your post or whatever.
[Female group member]: Right. Per comment or like per related article that comes thereafter. Or per like people who want to advertise on your story or your contributions.
[Scott]: It should be an algorithm where you deduct value if businesses want to advertise on your blog.
[Scott]: I can't believe that everyone (expletive 1:37:12.3) agreed with that one (laughing).
(Inaudible comment from background)
[Scott]: Actually, I have it all worked out.
[Renee]: What's going on?
[Scott]: You were just nodding. You were doing something else, Renee. I see where this is going.
[Renee]: Yeah, like I'm going to bed soon.
[Scott]: Well hey, its 7:53. Yeah, exactly. So what about your dreams and stuff? Can you get paid for dreaming about n.e.w.s.?
[Greg]: Renee's bed is like "why is she lurking? Why isn't she engaging with me?"
[Renee]: At least I get to do chat in my pajamas.
[Scott]: Yeah. We can do that too. Pajama party.
[Renee]: To go back to the forum, basically, we've not yet had a response other than the people who say that they're going to participate and have some kind of text lingering in the background. We haven't had, this is in a way, a kick start for the forum. And I was wondering what would be needed, after an hour or two hours of chat, what would be the next step? Is it really about setting up a business model like the one I had said where I was going to clean someone's house that I'm personally doing? Or is it something that can be, without saying that there is a pot of cash so to speak to be distributed, then what is the next step? Does anybody have any thoughts?
[Steven]: Renee, just one word of cautiousness. I were forums usually don't take off the minute following their launch. They had our rhythm that is all of their own. Probably because they are very poorly paid. I don't know. I wanted to come back to something (inaudible1:40:02.0) that isn't my question but why we (inaudible 1:40:05.6) and I will just say one thing. This whole idea, n.e.w.s. is not really a plausible Artworld in itself but I think that it could pose as something which could be a key component of a plausible Artworld. In Artworlds, or let's just say a world, is not something that is just based on the few people who succeed in it. It is based on all of the people who took part in it. And without any one of those contributors, without any one of those users what it is would not be what it is. The overall value, I mean maybe you could say that some people produce more value than others. But collectively they produce the value that is produced.
[Scott]: Well, don't you pay people more than others? Some people more than others? Remunerate I mean.
[Steven]: Mostly our point. I think our point is that yes we do definitely pay some more than others. Dramatically more than others. If you look at how wealth is distributed on our planet you really see that the top 3% of people get about 90% of the wealth. So yes, we certainly do. We handsomely rewarded those who we think are producing all of the value. But I think that there is a good case to be made that the other 90% are doing more than producing that 3% of the value. I mean I think that's (inaudible 1:41:49.0)...
[Renee]: (inaudible 1:41:49.1)
[Steven]: (inaudible 1:41:53.0) the point of an Artworlds. But there's a reputation of a company and the world is a thing that is produced by an entire aggregate of the people that vested interest in it. That's something in which informs this idea that people should be paid. On one hand, it's the idea of a living wage and that people should be paid for being citizens. But more specifically they are paid for participating as citizens. And we call that usership.
[Renee]: And also I think what you were getting at is inclusive also of let's say "Dark Matter" by Greg Shallot. This text would also include the people who are reading n.e.w.s. in your collectivity, correct? Steven?
[Steven]: Yeah, yeah.
[Renee]: That surrounding of critical mass, so to speak, of all the people who are participating. And not just those who are contributing content through words or images.
[Steven]: Yes, right. Exactly. They're producing calculable amounts.
[Scott]: Will guys, thank you so much for coming. This was totally awesome. It is 7:58 PM.
[Renee]: I can go to bed now?
[Scott]: Yeah, you can participate in bed.
[Greg]: Rest assured the check is in the mail.
[Renee]: Rest assured. Is that a pun Greg? Rest assured?
[Greg]: Yes of course!
[Scott]: And everybody that is supposed to contribute to this book totally will. Don't worry Renee.
[Renee]: Do you mean we're not going to have to pay back the rest of the money?
[Scott]: Yeah, right. You were not going to have to take on a couple of extra jobs and write a new grant just to pay back the old one.
[Scott]: Although, that's not a bad idea.
[Renee]: Just tell them it's a business model.
[Scott]: Yeah, I hope not.
[Renee]: Thank you, all of you, for your feedback and I have to say that as a participant once again in a BaseKamp plausible Artworld I cannot keep up with reading text and everything that is going on. I just can't do it.
[Scott]: You did a fantastic job Renee.
[Renee]: Thanks but I wanted to say that I want to take the time to peruse all of the links and thank you everyone for contributing. It has really, really been very fruitful and I am sorry that it is so late and were out of time. I enjoyed it, thank you.
[Scott]: Yep, that's awesome. I think you should start waking up around noon so that you can make these Tuesday night chats.
[Renee]: Then Scott, you can take over my morning job while I sleep.
[Scott]: OK, maybe we will pass that around.
(Group goodbyes and chatter)
END OF TRANSCRIPTION
Created on 2010-03-30 20:37:12.