PosSoupBility, the meal-based initiative that pairs a soup dinner with presentations from community artists, organizations and activists seeking micro-grants, will celebrate its first anniversary next month. With three dinner events under its belt in its first year, the Louisville affiliate of Sunday Soup has directed an average of $900 per event to community projects.
Here’s how it works. About a month before the event, the coordinators take applications and select three creative project proposals that benefit or celebrate Louisville. Then, they invite the community to pay $10 to enjoy a dinner of locally-sourced soup and bread, hear the ideas and vote.
Applications are due December 28 for the next dinner, which will be held January 27 at First Unitarian Church (809 S. 4th St.). Download an application and learn how to submit your proposal for consideration.
“Our only criteria for that idea is that it somehow innovatively or creatively benefits or celebrates the community,” says co-founder Nick Couvalt. “We chose that wording pretty particularly, because we don’t always want this to fix a problem. Sometimes we want to celebrate something that’s working, or creating more good, as opposed to putting a band-aid on things.”
The project with the most votes walks away with at least 90 percent of the money collected – more if the food costs are already covered by donations. Couvalt calls it “money for the people, by the people.”
“We’re generating micro-grants,” says Couvalt.”They’re small amounts of money when you look at the big scheme of things, but for the projects that are coming to the table, small amounts of money are giant drops in the bucket.”
While arts proposals make up a significant portion of the applications, the program also accepts activism and community-building proposals — any creative idea that falls under the “benefits or celebrates” the Louisville community umbrella.
Projects that have received funding include a comic book art therapy program at the West End Boys’ School and the DuPont Manual High School Gay-Straight Alliance. When the comic book program only needed $650 of the $1,200 collected at the first PosSOUPbility dinner, the coordinators were able to split the remainder between the other two proposals, an issue of the photojournalism magazine THIS … Is Louisville and the Bourbon Baroque classical music ensemble.
“We’re all there deciding how to spend our money as a community,” says Couvalt. “There’s not one person in that room who isn’t responsible for the outcome of the evening.”
While the promise of a micro-grant and a good meal prove enticing to applicants and audience alike, Couvalt says the real strength of the program is how it gives new and small projects access to a room of people committed to building community, including the coordinators. Along with Couvalt, PosSOUPbility is adminstered by Beth Henson, Robert Woodford, Raegan Stremel and Samantha Williams.
“At the heart of this event we believe it’s an idea-sharing opportunity, for people to see what artists, what innovators in their community are doing, to let that inspire them and to allow them to learn more,” he says.