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C.A.F.E. program a tasty idea

Bonni Brown constantly has something creative cooking at her Bonni Bakes eatery in the Village of the Arts — from delicious dishes to clever art shows.

But this time around, Brown is doing a little of both with an approach that will benefit the community at large. Her latest project is called C.A.F.E, which stands for Community Arts Funding Event. Basically, the community gets to choose and fund artistic projects worthy of a small grant that will benefit the area. Think of it as an artistic incubator chosen for the people by the people. The inaugural event is set for 6 to 8 p.m. June 27.

Here’s how it works:

The community is invited to partake in a tasty meal featuring a soup du jour and bread for $10. During the meal, local artists and small nonprofits of all backgrounds (music included) will present their small-scale proposals. Diners vote on the best idea. The winner gets the money collected from the meal — on the condition that he or she share details of how the execution of their project went at the next C.A.F.E. event.

Clever, huh?

When I asked Brown what inspired her to conceive the dinner grant idea, she said “NPR.”

National Public Radio’s “Marketplace” show, to be exact.

A few weeks ago she heard about how various communities in the country — from Portland, Ore., to Boston, Mass. — were funding art projects through dinner parties. For instance, in St. Louis, Mo., they have “Sloup.” In Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s dubbed “FEAST,” which stands for Funding Emerging Artists with Sustainable Tactics. Since arts funding is being trimmed or cut completely from state and federal budgets and with artists competing for what little money there is, this grass roots approach is a godsend.

“It’s so brilliant; So simple,” Brown said. It’s just people helping out people, she added.

There’s only a four-question application. The prerequisite is that it enhances life in Bradenton.

Brown said each project should be something the community can benefit from instead of for personal gain.

Only 10 proposals will be accept for each dinner. If you’re interested in applying for a grant or attending C.A.F.E., RSVP to 746-6647 or e-mail bonnibakes@gmail.com. Seating is limited.

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