Yearend Top 10: CACHE creates space, funds for art

Yearend Top 10: CACHE creates space, funds for art
April Wallace

Editor’s Note: This is April Wallace’s first selection. It comes from stories written throughout the year, with bits published Feb. 20, July 24 and some posted purely on social media, but it will certainly have a lasting impact on not only the downtowns of Springdale and Bentonville, where its main art-showing opportunities hinge, but the entirety of Northwest Arkansas.

It’s no secret that lack of funding can get in the way of many artistic productions, but now there are numbers to back that up locally and funds in place to fix it.

During a 2021 survey of 400 Northwest Arkansas artists, 75% said their primary impediment was lack of affordable space and time required to test and create new work.

The Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange is a new initiative that allowed local artists, directors, curators and other creatives to apply for the necessary funding. The money has since gone toward their galleries, shows, performances and studio space to create their work.

The fund is made possible by a grant from the Tyson Family Foundation and supports 80 activations throughout this year and into 2023. Of those 80, 32 were live events; 24 indoor or outdoor art installations; and 20 community workshops.

“It’s an exciting year we have ahead of us,” says Lisa Marie Evans, project manager of creative development for the Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange, which announced the fund’s launch on Feb. 7. Evans and Artist & Community Manager Amber Perrodin gave interested artists more details in various Zoom meetings over the course of the following week.

The Creative Exchange Fund offered five different opportunities. Applications closed March 14.

“They’ll all have mentorship, networking tools and resources that are industry specific,” Evans says. “We want to offer those to help (artists) succeed and connect them with community.”

Applications were reviewed by a panel from the 214 advisory committee, 214 leadership council, CACHE staff and representatives from the Tyson Family Foundation.

To determine the award recipients, they thought about whether the project presented opportunities for professional growth and risk taking; if it was feasible; and whether the artist applying had the skill to achieve what they proposed. Panelists looked for projects with a compelling vision or purpose.

In February, all activity was planned to take place at the CACHE 214 campus, at 214 S. Main St. in Springdale. While much of it did, CACHE announced a partnership with the Ledger building in Bentonville in June and selected 35 artists with varied mediums to be featured in the space. In November, CACHE announced the renaming of the Springdale location, formerly the Arts Center of the Ozarks and referred to as 214 in the interim, as “The Medium” during a party at the site. Banners surrounding the parking lot already reflect the change.

Funding awards went to event producers for original, live, community-driven events; one-time programs; to musicians for monthly performances; curators and artists in residence.

One of the 16 artists-in-residence was Vic Barquin. The below spotlight story ran in Profiles on July 24.

If Vic Barquin’s sculptures are like a goldfish in a bowl, only able to grow as big as its surroundings, its capacity to expand and morph into something entirely different positively exploded when she was accepted to the Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange (CACHE) this summer.

“Now I could really see what this project could become,” she says. All it needed was a little more space.

Barquin was selected as one of the 56 recipients of funding through the Tyson Family Foundation designed to activate the creative hub at 214 S. Main St. in Springdale. Her opportunity comes with a large studio for six weeks.

Now that she has the space, Barquin has six sculptures going at once, and each one can be as wide and tall as she wants or have multiple pieces. That’s been a huge part of the fun, she says, to see how they could change, how they could look and just how big they could be.

Before setting up at the studio space for artists-in-residence at 214, Barquin had only ever made one statue. That one was created from scraps of old prints and was a part of her graduate course work at the University of Arkansas last semester.

“I liked it conceptually, I was proud of it, but there wasn’t a lot of room for that to grow or for that project to explore more and different forms,” Barquin says. “The school studio is small; there’s not much space to explore the third dimension.”

One of her graduate professors alerted her and other students about CACHE offering funding for artists to do their work and make engagements and activations within the community.

“The fact that it’s funded is huge,” Barquin says. “As artists, we tend to be taken advantage of. A lot (of opportunities) promise exposure, but it doesn’t pay the bills. We’re people with financial responsibility, and it’s insane to not be paid for our time.”

Barquin and her studio mate Junli Song hosted a collective making day so that community members could come into 214, see their process and participate.

Barquin invited people to add to her sculptures, which she describes as made up of an armature of chicken wire, scrap paper and paper pulp. She mixed batches of paint ahead of time and did segments paint-by-number style so that they could apply paint to the paper pulp.

Barquin’s workshop is just one example of the many creative offerings made through CACHE’s new exchange fund program, says Amber Perrodin, artist and community manager. Felt artist Dani Ives has a workshop coming soon. Chinelos Morelenses is working on an exhibition of costumes significant for its inspirations rooted in Morelenses’ heritage and culture.

Niketa Reed will be the first curator to activate an exhibit indoors at 214. Hers is called “Feed the Culture.” It features food stories from various cultures and includes a documentary on the same topic. Springdale-based mural artist Toxic painted a mural for this installation. Perrodin encourages people to come see it while it lasts, since each space is temporary.

“This is the nature of the exchange fund,” Perrodin says. “It’s always turning over.”

The CACHE Mixtape Music Series has a concert each month. Every event features a pair of groups or individual performers that are paired on genre — the look, feel or sound has to fit together well somehow. Two have happened so far.

The first was by glam rock band Ozark Odyssey, whose songs were about “love, fear, discovery and tales of the Ozarks.” They made costumes and displayed paintings for the event and were paired with Eddie Canyon, a hip hop artist who is also engaged with the program Groundwaves.

The second concert was a combination of drone metal, throat singing and cinematic sound design with an artist who mixes his own music and plays cello. They used a fog machine and creative lighting to add effects.

“It’s a fun sort of trial and experiment,” Perrodin says. “I was blown away with how they pulled it together.”

CACHE organizers hoped collaboration would unfold between the artists and musical groups, and Perrodin says they are already seeing that.



CACHE Awards in 2022

— A total of 10 Producer awards at $2,500 each were bestowed on event producers to support original live, community-driven events at the CACHE 214 campus.

— Two $15,000 awards were given to host a one-time program on the main stage at 214. The funds subsidized rehearsal and performance space, minimized production costs and increased critical public exposure.

— Twenty emerging, undiscovered and established performing musicians in the region were awarded up to $1,500 each in the Mixtape Music Series. The series gave a DIY show vibe for an all-ages venue to provide monthly music events within all genres of music. Selected musicians received mentorship and skill building around artistry, performance, brand development and beyond.

— Eight aspiring or established curators looking to use “innovative, experimental, resourceful and community-responsive” curatorial approaches were awarded $4,500 each and access to indoor and outdoor exhibition space at 214, creating new platforms for “artists and curators to experiment and exchange ideas.”

— Residencies for 16 visual artist residencies at 214 campus took place at a rate of four per quarter, awarding each with $3,000, studio space for six-week terms and the assignment of hosting a public workshop and either one open studio or exhibition.

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