Light shows, food business incubator and Trump film set to receive city grants

Sacramento's Red Museum reopens after city shut it down

An underground music venue on 15th Street reopened for a fundraiser on August 26, 2017. City inspectors had shuttered the space over building code violations.
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An underground music venue on 15th Street reopened for a fundraiser on August 26, 2017. City inspectors had shuttered the space over building code violations.

If you already think there’s too much going on in Sacramento, 2018 won’t be your year.

The Sacramento creative scene has high expectations with plans to launch comic book workshops, haiku lessons, digital art shows, street cabarets and art installations.

In all, 57 creative economy pilot projects would be a funded through a $500,000 city initiative aimed at fostering experimentation in food, tech and art, according to a staff recommendation released Monday. The city manager can administer the grants without going back to the City Council.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg has made diversifying the Sacramento economy and image a priority. City leaders hope to enliven corners with street performers, music and art in a city that has long tried to shed its image as a government town that shuts down after business hours.

“The purpose of providing Creative Economy Pilot Project grants is to support arts and culture projects that stimulate economic development and activity, as well as social impact,” the staff report says.

The city received an energetic response with 481 applications, representing $7.6 million in requests, during a 45-day window. A panel of local arts and culture leaders winnowed down the pool and selected 13 grants of $25,000 each and 44 smaller grants of up to $5,000 apiece.

Under the recommendations, some grants would support existing entities like $25,000 to the District 2 Arts Expo, $10,000 to the Sacramento Black Book Fair and $5,000 to support Submerge Magazine.

Others would fund new endeavors. One applicant would receive $5,000 to create a short film about President Donald Trump’s efforts to ban travelers from specific countries by focusing on one Muslim family. Independent filmmaker Rose Mendonca applied for the grant, and the film is being written and directed by Jasmine Ali.

The panel picked three light shows, each to dazzle at various locations across the city.

Former Sacramento Bee theater critic Marcus Crowder would receive $24,000 to stage a new play about “a diverse group of people connected to a contemporary event performed in a community which rarely has theater created for them.”

Sacramento restauranteur Andrea Lepore of Hot Italian said she’s happy be on the list for a $25,000 grant to support her Food Factory business incubator concept.

While $25,000 is not a huge amount compared to the $5 million she estimates she’ll need, the money will advance the design process with three workshops bringing food entrepreneurs together with a design/build team. Food Factory would be a commercial kitchen and workspace that would allow the next generation of food businesses to experiment in a converted warehouse along C Street.

“Some of these grants won’t make or break an organization, but maybe move a project to the next phase,” Lepore said.

Some of the other major grant winners, each receiving $25,000:

▪ First Festival, a local lineup of music, art and comedy that represent the diversity of Sacramento.

▪ Fairytale Town, for its free pop-up adventure play days.

▪ The LaunchPad, a North Sacramento lab that includes a beer treehouse and a speedboat playground.

▪ Street Corner Cabaret, “an experimental project that increases training, access and engagement in the arts to help foster cultural equity.”

Jennifer Jackson said her $5,000 grant will bring music, art and food to the gritty Mansion Flats neighborhood where she runs the The Red Museum.

“Part of our ask was for the city to help us navigate through event permitting, and in turn we will have a platform to advocate for more affordable ways that smaller, niche events can happen in alternative spaces in our city,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she hopes the city at large will take note of the outpouring of ideas and decide that a “little more funding and support would go a very long way in making Sacramento a cooler city.”

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch