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On 5x5 Night

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Sunday Soup #9 award recipient, Jes Kramer receives $60 of additional support from SEAS Club

Sunday Soup #9 award recipient, Jes Kramer receives $60 of additional support from SEAS Club /Jaime Johnson

Underwriting support from:


A lot of people have asked us recently about our thoughts on the newly announced 5x5 Night, and some of the similarities it shares with Sunday Soup. We are not sure how much of 5x5 Night is directly inspired by Sunday Soup, but - really - it doesn't matter. Sunday Soup is a grass roots model for community-based micro-granting that was designed to be replicated. While some of the Sunday Soup movement's original inspiration can be found right here in Grand Rapids, we ourselves are borrowing from a model developed and perfected by our colleagues at InCUBATE in Chicago. Since Sunday Soup was first initiated in 2007, their idea has spread all over the world to include us here in Grand Rapids, two different (but coexisting) versions in Detroit, and in locales as widespread as Brooklyn, Portland, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Ukraine. Each iteration of Sunday Soup has been modified and adapted to the needs of its community.

While we actively participate in a growing worldwide community of micro-granting projects, we are always excited to see new opportunities for exchanging ideas in our own community.

Though many of 5x5 Night's methods are strikingly similar to our own, it is clear that our intentions are different. Sunday Soup seeks to present creative project funding as a tool for community empowerment and as an exercise in democracy. Each person who pays $5 becomes a stakeholder and gets a vote, the project with the most votes receives funding, and the size of the award varies depending on how many people participate in the voting process. Thus far, the amounts awarded have ranged between $75 and $260. Using a similar model, our friends at Brooklyn FEAST are able to disburse several thousand dollars every time they meet. In the same way it has been designed to be replicated, our project has also been designed to be scalable. The system allows for larger awards but is tied directly to community participation. We are a collective of volunteers that do not benefit financially from our meals; the entire proceeds go directly to the winner. It is our endeavor to make community project funding as direct, simple and egalitarian as possible.

We invite any local creative project to apply for grant funding at Sunday Soup GR. There are no barriers to participation. You do not, for example, need to be over the age of 18 or an American citizen. As always, we only ask that you show up in person to present your project and to participate in an open discussion about your work and that you report back in a couple months about your progress. You can apply for an upcoming round of grant funding on the Sunday Soup website.

Some of the discussion surrounding the recent announcement of 5x5 Night has included comparison with our project. We appreciate the support people have expressed for Sunday Soup GR and the creative projects it funds and want to encourage folks to extend that support by showing up at 6 p.m. this Sunday and every last Sunday of the month. The more of you who show up, the thicker our grass roots will grow.

- Sunday Soup GR, a program of The DAAC

PS: Like the rest of the DAAC, the Sunday Soup committee is an open collective that welcomes the involvement of newcomers. If you are interested in getting involved with Sunday Soup as an organizer, a soup-maker, or if you have other ideas for collaboration, please send us a message at [email protected]

An open letter from the DAAC's Sunday Soup committee, originally posted on

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I remember having this really good idea that I ripped off from Amy (DITA) that she heard on National Public Radio (NPR) about potlucks organized so people pay money to attend, and those people vote on which artist presentation they like best, and the artist gets the money. So I thought it'd be a great idea for ArtPeers to do that, and - if at all possible - we'd make it seem like we invented the whole concept.

But then I talked to George Weitor one day, about it, and he informed me DAAC had been doing this for at least three months. So I started to walk away, like a sad puppy, when George said, "Hey!" and invited me to attend. And I did, with my whole family. And it was really, really cool. It was better than I could've imagined.

DAAC Sunday Soup (or Sunday Sundaes in the summer!) is a really positive thing for the city, and the artists who live here.

In general, I think artists should pursue any funding source possible, so long as the process is open to all, fair, and the money is dispersed with no strings attached.

Thank you.

Sunday Soup is a great model, no wonder the concept is being used throughout the world.  I almost wish 5 x 5 would have taken more directly from the model.  The best part is you pay and you get something, great soup and then you are part of the decision making.  Strange the best parts are left out in 5 x 5 especially because Artprize (Pomegranate Studio's other baby) is all about public voting and one is not sure who makes the decisions on the winning project here. Once you pay your $5 to listen to creative projects being presented then trek on over to Reserve restaurant, you will be be treated to free champagne, so I guess you are getting something for your money.  I glad there are more and more options for creative grants in this town and maybe 5 x 5 will be tweaked a bit along the way to be a little more transparent...something I wish would happen in Artprize too.

This has been edited, because at the time I did not realize you would get something in exchange for your $5.  Tommy Allen also pointed out that me being snarky destroyed my credibility...I thought about it and removed the snark.



I think a lot of frustration comes from the approach that organizations like Pomegranate have taken when creating these events. People involved in community organizations like Dwelling Place, Avenue for the Arts, Heartside Gallery, the DAAC, etc, have put in hundreds of (mostly) voluntary hours to make Grand Rapids a haven for artists and deserve some credit. At least when the DAAC began their Sunday Soup program, they made clear the history of Soup mini-grants and recognized their colleagues at inCUBATE.
When Artprize hit the scene I just scratched my head like most people and wondered why the organization didn't have any body on staff from Dwelling Place, the DAAC, Heartside, etc? These individuals have long histories and genuine relationships with the city and understand how to situate events in difficult neighborhoods like Heartside. Plus they've successfully done creative community events years before Artprize was established. It was great that Artprize partnered with the UICA to make the event happen, but because their goals were set high there were obvious holes that could have been avoided if they started small and grew. Just look at the history of the UICA- they started out at their small Front street location and have slowly worked their way up to become the largest contemporary arts center in the State.
In addition, it does not make any sense for a big flashy organization like Artprize or Pomegranate Studios to coin slogans like "Art=Community" because they aren’t providing a seat at the table for these knowledgeable individuals to be fully involved. With the recent explosion of all these hip n' trendy art events they all preach community, yet they seem to be racing against each other to become the hott item that will become the face of the city. Why not leave the egos at the door and work together..? Grand Rapids has so many creative minds, it is a shame that they all can't collaborate to make stuff happen.
Furthermore to having all of these available creative minds, it seems like there is a giant pile of money for creative ideas/projects/etc. Multiple well-known art critics that various Grand Rapids institutions have brought in like Kathryn Hixson and Mary Jane Jacobs have repeatedly said that these prizes are toooo big. If everyone is truly serious about funding the arts why not lower the amount so that more projects can get going?!? Not to leave out the fact that numerous States like Michigan are threatening to or already taking away funding for the arts in public schools.
So to sum up my thoughts, I hope that these administrators will realize that there are resources that they are not making use of, and come together as a community to create something that everyone can be proud of.