The Missouri Entrepreneur Celebration is a showcase and award ceremony for Missouri innovators and entrepreneurs.
In 2011, fifteen businesses that each braved the challenges of business ownership to move their entrepreneurial legacy and our local economy forward, often in the face of limited resources and all within the confines of a difficult economy were selected as finalists in three categories of entrepreneurship.
- Innovation in the Arts
- Innovation in Technology
- Innovation in Business
Each business is a client of UMKC's Small Business & Technology Development Center and has demonstrated outstanding innovation accomplishments that have resulted in a positive impact on the community workforce, Missouri economy, and the company's own bottom line. All businesses are headquartered in Missouri.
Here we share the profiles of the winner and finalists for the Innovation in Arts Award.
Jane Gotch Dance
Winner Innovation In Arts
Principal: Jane Gotch
What if what people really wanted was not a spectacle but an intimate human connection?
That's the motivation behind Jane Gotch's art—and the question behind WE!, Gotch's
innovative, collaborative installation dance performance that was staged earlier this
year in an abandoned downtown office space formerly occupied by AT&T.
WE! took the audience out of their seats and into the lights—stripping away the
safety net of the proscenium theater and placing dancer, art, and viewer in close
proximity. In small groups, the performance led the audience through a multiroom
visual environment created by an award-winning team of Kansas City's leading
dance, visual, lighting, and sound designers. The performers' breath, sweat, body
heat, direct eye contact, and even touch was palpable.
The WE! project was funded by a Rocket Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation
in partnership with the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art.
It also received an Inspiration Grant from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas
City and a space grant from Copaken Brooks Realty. WE! raised more than $10,000
in local and regional private donations, over doubling the funds awarded through the
Gotch is currently in the beginning stages of a new project, PORCHES. Scheduled to
open in the summer of 2013, PORCHES is a site-specific, community-touring
performance, inspired by Kansas City's front porches.
Finalist Innovation in Arts
Principals: Sean Starowitz and Andrew William Erdrich
BREAD! KC has found a novel way to feed "starving artists."
A microfinancing organization, BREAD! KC provides a sustainable, democratic
means of supporting the Kansas City creative community.
To do that, it hosts monthly migrating dinner parties to raise money for its
microgrants. Preselected artists or organizations pitch a proposal to dinner guests,
and then those guests vote to determine who receives the grant for that event.
Founded in 2010, BREAD! KC started small: Sean Starowitz and Andrew William
Erdrich manned public relations, created the menus, and organized the dinners. But
word of mouth and partnerships with such local businesses and restaurants as Farm
to Market Bread, the Charlotte Street Foundation, Door to Door Organics, and Port
Fonda helped the organization and its microgrants grow rapidly.
To date, BREAD! KC has hosted more than 500 guests and raised more than $4,300
to sponsor 10 local artists and organizations. Grants average more than $350, and
dinners have been hosted at many Kansas City locations, including Grand Arts and
the Leedy Voulkos.
BREAD! KC is a member of the Sunday Soup Network, an international network
of more than 40 similar organizations founded by the artist collective Incubate of
Chris Dahlquist Fine Art
Finalist Innovation In Arts
Principals: Chris and Kyle Dahlquist
Chris Dahlquist learned to use a camera and develop pictures as she was learning
to ride a bicycle and write in cursive. Her school years were spent doing science fair
projects where she'd test the photographic medium, learning the rules just so she
could break them.
All innovation, she believes, begins with the crucial step of challenging a commonly
held belief—whether that's stretching the confines of the photographic print or
mentioning "art" and "business" in the same sentence.
Like the landscapes she photographs, her work comprises subtle layers. She
discovered a process to treat nontraditional surfaces, including the nonporous
surface of metal, so that they can receive archival pigment inks printed from an ink
jet printer. She then prints her photographs on steel, manipulating each piece of
metal independently to ensure that each piece is original.
She then takes her artwork directly to the public, often bypassing the institution of
galleries and dealers to reach an audience beyond those walls. Selling her work at art
fairs from Oregon to Florida has allowed her to increase her exposure, her audience,
and her market demand. Despite the economic climate of the last couple of years,
Dahlquist has continually increased sales each year.
Finalist Innovation In Arts
Principal: Lisa Lala
Pay off parking tickets. Start a family charitable foundation. Stop biting my nails. Die
on my own terms. Download better music.
These, and thousands more, are the scribbled goals that make up Lisa Lala's List Wall Project.
Originating in Kansas City in 2009, the List Wall Project is a conceptual art
installation that invites the public to submit anonymous, handwritten lists of their
goals. It has toured nationally since February 2010, chronicling in small notes what
people from all walks of life want to accomplish and offering a very human glimpse
of what is on the hearts and minds of our communities.
While there are no direct sales from this project, it has pushed people to commit and
complete their goals—and has brought people into the galleries it inhabits. The first
gallery that showcased the list, the Blue Gallery in Kansas City, nearly tripled its foot
traffic and saw its best February for sales in 10 years of business.
Lala founded her own studio in 2004. Since then, she's exhibited her work
locally at the Plaza Art Fair and Blue Gallery and nationally at Strecker-Nelson Gallery
in Kansas; Marion Meyer Gallery in California; Pryor Fine Art in Georgia; and the
Soapbox and the Krause Galleries, both in New York.
Finalist Innovation In Arts
Principals: Caleb Taylor, Nicole Mauser, Amy Kligman, Misha Kligman, and Cory Imig
PLUG Projects was formed in early 2011 by five Kansas City artists. A fresh gallery
with a fresh perspective, PLUG is not only a curatorial collaboration between these
artists, it's way to enrich and expand conversations about art.
PLUG renovated its West Bottoms location to house both a 350-square-foot
exhibition space and individual artists studios. Exhibitions will feature nationally
recognized artists from outside of Kansas City and give exposure to less visible talent
from within the region.
Between exhibitions, PLUG will use the empty gallery walls to host a "Critique Night
Series" led by critic Blair Schulman, along with a small rotating panel of established
writers, curators, and artists from the community.
Its website, too, is a curatorial extension of the project space. It will include a news
feed, archive of artists and programming, and curatorial blog. In its blog, PLUG will
feature other artists whose work relates to that on view, critical writing and resources
that connect with the exhibition themes, and online satellite exhibitions curated by
international guest curators. The blog will serve as an entry point to PLUG's artists
and projects as it extends the conversation beyond the physical gallery space.
PLUG is a for-profit business. It funded its first year of programming from grants,
direct fundraising using Kickstarter, and rent from resident artists.