SOUP is a monthly dinner that funds micro-grants for creative projects in Detroit. On the first Sunday of each month, all are invited to gather for a public soup dinner in the loft above Mexicantown Bakery. Up to 150 guests pay $5 for soup, salad, and dessert, which are prepared by different artists and community members each month. During dinner, applicants for grant funding pitch project proposals and field questions from fellow diners, who are mostly seated on the floor, huddled around doors resting on milkcrates as tables. All in attendance cast a vote (in a homemade voting booth) on which project to fund with the money raised from the meal that night. Jessica Hernandez and I facilitate the monthly gathering in collaboration with a multidisciplinary community of artists, thinkers, friends, family, and other community members. We hope that SOUP serves as an experiment in sustaining an independent creative infrastructure that practically supports strong creative projects, a relational hub connecting various creative communities, and a site for accessible yet critical dialogue about the relationship between creative production and community engagement in Detroit.
SOUP responds to the current economic situation in Detroit by employing an independent, community-driven economic model to democratically fund creative projects. From artists to farmers, builders to curators, a wide range of creative people submit project proposals for SOUP funding each month. We receive proposals for everything from overtly artistic investigations to socially-based, process-oriented work to creative activities that pragmatically respond to the specific needs of local neighborhoods and communities. We believe that by gathering diverse creative people together in the context of a small-scale democratic experiment, we can organically build and sustain relationships with one another as we hash out and support the types of creative production we believe should be happening in our city in this important time of transition.
Each month at SOUP, we seek to instigate a dialogue about the creative projects being proposed for funding. A wide range of creative production that is interested in exploring and reshaping the social, economic, and urban fabric of the city is occurring in Detroit right now. We believe that we have to learn to talk about it. Initiating a dialogue that incorporates so many creative disciplines and disparate fields of knowledge can feel like a wildly overwhelming, interdisciplinary endeavor, but as our city continues to re-envision and re-structure itself, we believe it is essential to learn to critically discern the value of these projects based on their creative strength and the depth, ethics, and sustainability of their community impact.
As an artist, I am interested in how environments, sculptures, installations, and performative actions can facilitate truly embodied, practical experiences of citizenship. I am interested in how the construction of specific situations can bring together both art and non-art audiences from diverse backgrounds to activate possible new models of artistic, social, economic, and civic engagement. As the residents of Detroit continue to creatively problem solve, organize, and respond to our current situation, SOUP will continue supporting strong creative projects, facilitating relationships among various creative communities, and working to provoke an ongoing critical, creative, civic dialogue.
at 6:36 PM