Winning a MasterMind award last January was the kickoff to a very good year, says Karen Stokes, founder of Karen Stokes Dance (KSD). "The big thing that happened lately is that we got a capacity building grant from Houston Arts Alliance, which gives us income to help us up build infrastructure and office space for the next three years."
Just one of six organizations chosen for the program this year, KSD is set to receive help in developing administrative skills and organizational systems. "It's looking at the business end of the arts organization in order to sustain it over time. It's really important because it's hard to get funding for that boring stuff," Stokes laughs. "It's hard enough to get people to give funding for the exciting projects, nobody wants to give us funding for an office. This grant does."
KSD had previously received small grants from the Houston Art Alliance, but the General Operating Support grant was first large, longterm HAA award for KSD. "We've been knocking on the door at Houston Arts Alliance for a long time and this is the first time they really opened the door. Did the [MasterMind award] lead to our winning [the HAA grant] this year? I don't know. Maybe not directly, but it didn't hurt!"
Stokes says the MasterMind awards acknowledged KSD professionally and perhaps as importantly, encouraged her and her dancers. "We often feel that we're flying under the radar in contemporary dance, that we're doing work and that people who have seen us like us and are interested in us. The fact that [the Houston Press] said, 'We see you and we know you're doing this work,' that was incredible. And I think it allowed a lot of other people to see us. I don't that they'll suddenly say, 'Oh, yeah, there's that company that won a MasterMind.' But of course, we can remind them."
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KSD is working on several new projects for 2014, a live performance piece called Deep: Seaspace and a dance-for-film project. "We're developing [Deep: Seaspace] for a main stage production that will eventually go into Hobby Center. And we're developing more experimental work that will go together with that but that will also stand alone.
"We're also working on two projects that deal with the ship channel and the Port Authority; this is the centennial celebration for the Port Authority in Houston. One of our projects will be at Allen's Landing next fall when the new coffee house opens. We're doing a fairly large scale site-specific work with the Houston Brass Band. We're not exactly sure when that's going to be because with construction projects, you never know when they're going to be done. We're hoping for the second week in November, just before Thanksgiving. Hopefully we'll have good weather.
"The other project that we're working on is a dance-for-film project. I'm super excited about. It will filmed at the Santa Anna capture site, which is also on the Ship Channel. Not very many people know about it. It's an incredible site. At first I wanted to have an audience there, but I started to think about parking and thought, 'We're not going to be able to have more than 25 people come because there's nowhere to park. Then I started thinking about doing it as a dance-for-camera project. That's something that I've been developing over the last two or three years. We're hopefully doing that in the fall."
An awards ceremony for this year's winners of the MasterMind 2014 awards is scheduled for 9 p.m. at the Houston Press Artopia 2014 party, which will run 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on January 25 at Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter Street. Entertainment includes live performances from Deep Cuts, Featherface, Electric Attitude, Ceeplus Bad Knives and DJ Dave Wrangler, plus fashion shows featuring Neal Hamil Models, dance performances by FrenetiCore and jhon stronks and works from more than 25 local artists. Tickets are $55 general admission and $85 VIP admission. Ticket prices include complimentary food, wine, cocktail from Captain Morgan White Rum and Stella Artois. This event is 21+ only. Check our Voice Daily Deal for discounts on tickets.