In Conversation | Perry Chen and Theaster Gates on Community-Driven Creativity

Perry Chen CEO of KickstarterThe Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen understands how communities can fuel creativity. The artist Theaster Gates knows how creativity can invigorate a community. What happens when they put their heads together?

At first glance, an Internet entrepreneur and an artist seem to operate in different creative spheres. Yet Perry Chen, the co-founder and C.E.O. of the crowd-funding Web site Kickstarter, and Theaster Gates, a Chicago art star-cum-urban planner, actually think they have a lot in common. Kickstarter began in 2009, and since then the site has raised more than $500 million for 40,000 projects — from Iraq war documentaries to Brooklyn restaurants — revolutionizing the way creative ideas are financed in the digital age. Theaster Gates’s artistic practice, which encompasses everything from sculpture to a roving choir, is in its way just as groundbreaking. On his own block on the South Side of Chicago, Gates has engineered a miniature urban utopia, turning the once-blighted buildings that surround him into artist residencies, a library and even a cinema house that shows works by aspiring filmmakers from the neighborhood. Both Gates’s and Chen’s work may inspire social change, but it’s the power of creativity, not of compassion, that spurs them from one genre-defying innovation to the next.

Read more at T Magazine

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