This coming Sunday, November 22nd from 5 to 7 pm, InCUBATE will hold their final Sunday Soup at their space around the corner from the Congress Theatre at 2129 Rockwell. For a modest donation of $10, participants get a home-cooked meal and the collected funds are granted to an artist voted on by those in attendance. The members of InCUBATE are collectively pursuing their careers and educations, many of them in other cities and countries and the space has been rendered somewhat unnecessary.
For this last Sunday Soup, the member’s of InCUBATE and their Sunday Soup Coordinator will take over the soup creation from the guest artists who usually prepare the soup and cook themselves. It promises to be a nostalgic affair with accounts of past soups, and info on other soups happening around the country and abroad. As InCUBATE’s ideas have spread, other groups have also adopted the “food-based micro-granting” model in locations as diverse as New York City, Portland, Newcastle and Mexico City. The importance of this ground-up, so simple it’s almost stupid, re-thinking of art’s funding models and administrative priorities is a reflection of how deeply and systemically the model is and has been flawed.
Funding for non-profit art is still mostly publicly provided, though at anemic levels, and corporate and foundation funding have adopted investment models that stress strict guidelines, targets, demographic studies and identifiable goals. This corporate structure drowns smaller ventures in increased layers of bureaucracy and stifles funding. The Sunday Soup’s brilliance is not only it’s good cuisine, or it’s actual monetary collections (usually between 200–500 dollars a meal) though these are certainly intrinsic parts. Rather it is the re-centering of the ideological locus of arts funding away from contentious public funding or capitalist models toward a direct re-involvement in a real community.
This is not the “community,” as it is sometimes used as an empty bureaucratic buzzword signaling some non-specific benefit to an imagined public. No, this community is made up of the real individuals who attend the soup function, give their money of their own accord, and vote on the grant proposals. The structure of the Sunday Soup ensures that its participants cannot be lumped into a generic mass, but instead maintains their agency and at the same time promotes conversation and the free exchange of ideas.