The Art Bar and Cafe: Crowdsourcing arts funding in Santa Cruz

September 27, 2013

PrintImagine if just having a beer or a glass of wine at a cool bar and café was also a way to support arts education.

That’s exactly what a group of people are proposing and they believe Santa Cruz could be the perfect spot for just such a thing.

Local poet Kevin Devaney – you’ve probably seen him on Pacific Avenue crafting one-of-a-kind poems on his vintage typewriter – is among those spearheading a campaign to bring the Art Bar to fruition.

The idea of a philanthropub is one Devaney has been considering for a few years,  long before he ended up in Santa Cruz and became involved with the Tannery Arts Center. It’s an idea that’s been toyed with in other cities, including Washington, D.C.’s Cause and United Libations in San Francisco.

The Art Bar would combine quality arts and music programming with arts education in a fun, friendly setting while also providing a source of income for artists – who would run the café as well.  The overlapping skill sets of many of the artists, writers and musicians Devaney knows locally and beyond are skills he believes could be brought together to create a really outstanding, revolutionary venue.

“I just think there’s a lot of potential for providing young artists with support, education and encouragement,” says Devaney.

Devaney and his colleagues in the venture to build the Art Bar have started a campaign on the microlending website IndieGoGo.  In addition to Devaney, the project is also being worked on by artists Heather Willoughby, Alyssa Young, DeAngelo Nieves and Macallie Atkinson, among others.

From the IndieGoGo campaign:

“If this campaign succeeds, the Art Bar will be able to open doors on a brick and mortar location within the year, adding to the growing “philanthro-pub” movement across the country. Philanthropubs such as United Libations in SF, The Oregon Public House in Portland, and CAUSE DC in Washington DC are already successfully showing that pub sales can change the world as they donate 100% of their profits to worthy organizations.

The Art Bar takes that model one step further. The artists who work behind the bar create diverse arts programming for the venue AND provide free arts education and outreach to the local community – all funded by your purchase of that beer, sandwich or coffee you were going to buy anyway. We’re helping to solve the arts funding and education crisis – one pint at a time.”

“You would know you’re making an impact,” Devaney says.

It would also, he says, provide the community with a place to experience engaging art in an accessible way.  And with the recent closure of Rebecca’s at the Tannery, there could be the perfect spot for just a venue already in existence.

Of course, a project like this doesn’t grow out of thin air. It’s going to take a lot of community support.  A major component is the IndieGoGo campaign. For each donation level, supporters will also receive certain perks, such as poetry books by Devaney and Young at the $100 level, VIP tickets to the Art Bar opening party at the $125 level and much more.

So why support the project? Here’s what the organizers say:

“You get an innovative funding model for the arts that takes one thing you probably already want – beer – and uses it to fund another thing you probably already want – great arts programming and great arts education in your community.

Instead of relying on ever-shrinking, ever-more-competitive grant funding to make sure your kids get meaningful access to arts education, you can now support the Art Bar and watch as the working artists pouring you a pint use your Friday night beer money to fund classes, workshops, and events in a diverse range of mediums from poetry to painting for your kids, families, and friends.”

You can also follow the Art Bar and Cafe  on Facebook page or on Twitter for updates.

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