"Dough", A Creative and Inspiring Environment
We developed the "It's Happening Here" moniker in part so that we would have a platform to help promote things that we were in the process of making happen. My favorite and sustainable example is "Dough", a collaborative public dinner, a means to facilitate connections; a theatrical, creative and inspiring environment; a democratic experiment in micro-funding; a relationship hub designed to bring together various creative individuals and communities; and a forum for critical and accessible discussion. The mechanics of the event are quite simple: a local business sponsors ("pays for") the meal that we serve, and all the proceeds collected at the door are given to the winner. Over 3 "third Thursdays" of 3 consecutive months, the crowd has chosen to fund CAFTA and the street banners they developed for Main Street Marketplace and Danielle Mailer for the large-scale, two-dimensional trout that she will create and place along the exterior of buildings along the riverfront.
Last Thursday evening, we actually had a tie, forcing a split of the evening's take between two entities--KidsPlay Museum and Callista Jewelry. The former was hoping to create a signature one-day program of immersive learning for adults and their children at their downtown Torrington site, while the latter needs funds to produce a crowd-sourced piece of jewelry. What I absolutely loved about the fact that we had an actual draw/tie was that the audience ultimately was casting a vote of confidence in two different entities in one fell swoop. How inspiring!
To date, we've awarded nearly $4,000.00 to these local organizations, partly the result of a 50% match that the City of Torrington has pledged through Rose's Economic Development office and fund.
In Rose's words,
“We have created an ideal private/public partnership model for offering encouragement to aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business-owners. We established the framework and plan the event, the public chooses AND funds the winner, and we match those crowdsourced funds with a micro-grant from our office of Economic Development. In this way, we (all) share the risk AND the reward”.
All of this would not be possible, were it not for the incredible generosity (and sensational food) of Ciesco Catering. Charlene and Darcy have been undeniable supporters in our efforts, and of the City. Thank you both!
Interested in Presenting at DOUGH?
For those interested in presenting at one of our upcoming dinners, there are two more "Dough" events--on Thursday, October 17th and Thursday, November 21st. Idea submissions are due on the second Friday of each month, and are in the form of a live, simple elevator pitch. These pitches are by appointment with Rose, and take place in the elevator at Torrington’s City Hall during the :20 it takes to ride between the ground and third levels of the building. The 3 semi-finalists chosen for the best, most interesting, well-delivered pitches get an opportunity to present their concepts to the public. During that evening’s 15 minute presentation, grant seekers will be asked to summarize their project, discuss why their project matters to the Torrington community, review the timeframe for their project, and how they will use Dough grant proceeds towards the realization of their project. The only stipulations are that those vying for the funds live in Litchfield County, and plan to execute their idea in Torrington itself.
Dough is a live event-based initiative of the City’s “It’s Happening Here!” campaign. This effort was made possible through an "Arts Catalyst Placemaking" grant created and funded by the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which enabled the City to create this and other economic development assets.
Do you have a great idea to present at "DOUGH"? Tell us about it in the comment section below!
About The Author
Stephen Warshaw is a project and idea facilitator, and was retained by the City of Torrington to orchestrate a strategy that would accelerate the growth of arts, culture and commerce in Torrington. For more about Stephen, visit Linchpin @ Large.