SEDER Recurring Cultural Event & Art Micro Grant
SEDER is a meal-based initiative committed to creating a path for rethinking how contemporary Jewish art and culture are financed and experienced communally. We host several community meals a year and all funds raised in exchange for food become a micro grant. During the meal, the micro grant is awarded to an artist selected by the diners. Thus, by coming to a SEDER event for a small cash donation, you get to become an arts patron and fund a new work of Jewish art.
In exchange for a modest cash donation of $18, guests enjoy a vegetarian dinner and receive a ballot. Artists who've submitted projects make brief presentations and guests vote on the project they like the best. The artist whose proposal receives the most votes gets the donation money collected at the door. Each suggested project must involve the Los Angeles Jewish community in some way, and awarded funds will help the artist create new works of contemporary culture.
Since launching in February 2011, the SEDER Arts Micro-Grant has awarded over $3,000 in funds to four regional artists with plans for several large-scale events during2012 and both of our events in the fall of 2013 awarded over $1000 to the selected artist of the evening.
Seder Four Questions
1. How is this SEDER different from all other Seders?
Seder, meaning order in Hebrew, usually describes a Jewish ritual meal. Rather than to retell an ancient story, this SEDER is meant to convene participants to actively participate in creating the next chapter of modern Jewish culture. Those attending the SEDER will be able to directly fund new, creative, and uniquely Jewish artistic or community- led projects meant to invigorate the Los Angeles community.
This project was inspired by Brooklyn’s FEAST (Funding Emerging Artists with Sustainable Tactics) and Chicago’s Sunday Soup program begun by InCUBATE. SEDER is a recurring public meal designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund new Jewish art.
2. Most communal meals are not used to fund new art projects. Why does this event ask for a small contribution of $18 (or more) to fund Jewish arts?
At each SEDER, the meal is exchanged for a suggested donation of $18 per person (although participants can give more towards the event and meal). All the income from that meal is given as a grant to support a creative project. In addition to the meal, each participant receives a ballot. Diners vote on a variety of Jewishly inspired artist projects and, at the end of the meal, the project with the most votes is awarded funds towards producing the project. The results of the awarded project are presented at the following SEDER.
Similar models across the country have funded hundreds of artist projects with small mico-grants ranging from $200-$400 per event.
3. During a traditional Passover Seder families and friends gather to retell the central narrative of the Jewish people. We are even encouraged to open our doors, homes, and tables to “strangers” in need of sustenance. Who do we want gathered at this SEDER table?
If you are a starving artist, SEDER grants provide funding for small to medium-sized projects. Grant applications are accepted up to six days prior to the meal. The work must be produced by a Jewish artist and/ or deal with Jewish subject matter. How “Jewish” the proposed project is can be defined broadly and left up to artist to explain when presenting the concept during the SEDER meal. The amount of the grant awarded at each SEDER is equal to the entire funds collected for that particular meal. If you have an artistic or community led project that effects the Jewish population of Los Angeles, you are encouraged to come share our table.
As a non-artist participant in the SEDER, you are choosing to join an experience that engages directly with art and community projects. Everyone who purchases a SEDER meal gets one vote to determine who receives the grant. The grants are completely unrestricted and will be awarded at the discretion of meal participants.
In the current economic climate governmental support for the arts is waning and private support for Jewish and secular artists often reflects a myriad of values and priorities. New works of art by Jewish artists can be seen as too religious or not Jewish enough to receive funding. Growing concerns about economic sustainability, anti-religious fears, or tensions around the Middle East can create situations where innovative or potentially controversial artwork can be difficult to fund. Traditional funders often need to balance institutional goals, political concerns, and/ or current media perceptions when determining what new artwork can fit within categories deemed “fundable.”
4. Why hold a community SEDER meal?
The Jewish tradition teaches that community plays a key role in our lives. In order to pray, announce a child’s name, become married, or even mourn, Jewish rituals require a community (ten or more Jews). This ancient imperative reminds us that we are never alone. It takes the combined actions of those around us to create intentional spaces of togetherness. When we join efforts, our possibilities are limitless.
SEDER understands that community participation in the grant funding and selection process is key. Applying for a SEDER grant is intentionally simple and un-bureaucratic in order to encourage broad participation. This enables SEDER to stimulate and promote experimental, critical and imaginative practices that may not be eligible for formal funding.