FEAST Mpls: Foodies fund the artist of their choice

Courtesy of FEAST Mpls
FEAST kitchen volunteers make dinner for up to 200 people.

So what if your last name's not Dayton or McKnight. If you've got $10, that's all you need for dinner and bragging rights as a "patron of the arts" at


, an innovative grant program for artists, on Nov. 6 at the PNA Hall in northeast Minneapolis.

FEAST, which stands for Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics, is a volunteer-run organization that celebrates its first anniversary in November. Every couple of months, a small army of foodies and art lovers join forces to plan an elaborate meal and raise money for local arts projects.

The Hot Dish checked in with the event's organizers to find out what's in store.
FEAST is modeled like a CSA [community supported agriculture]," says Seth Johnson, a volunteer organizer for FEAST. Wanna-be patrons pay $10-$20 (whatever they can afford-no one is turned away for lack of funds) for a gourmet meal and a ballot. The ballot is used to vote for an artist's project, and at the end of the night, the artist with the most votes takes home a grant for about $800.

Meanwhile diners sample gourmet food churned out by a kitchen staffed with volunteer foodies. "These are the people who love to make a dinner party for 4 friends, and when they get to cook for 200 people, it blows their mind," Johnson says.

Past FEASTS have featured squash soup, an Indian meal inspired by the donation of a lamb from an organic farm, and a vegan-friendly barbecue. While the evening may be about art, the food succeeds in bringing artists and art lovers together. "It almost feels like a warm Thanksgiving dinner," Johnson says--a locally sourced Thanksgiving dinner, that is. "I feel really strongly about making food and culture more local, and therefore, because it's more local, it's more sustainable," Johnson says.

FEAST Mpls was modeled after a similar concept in Brooklyn, New York, which started in 2008. Since it began, FEAST Mpls has granted $3,100 over the course of three events, funding everything from a book about screen printing to an exhibit about the importance of creative work.

Each FEAST Mpls attracts between 150 to 200 people, and the event includes time to chat with artists who have submitted grant proposals, presentations from artists with previously funded projects, and music from a live band. Grant winning artists are announced at the end of the evening.

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