About the Ken Dewey Fund

Life imitates art in new film release strategy designed to disrupt and give back.

Between 1959 and 1972 the unheralded yet pivotal New York artist Ken Dewey reimagined the function of art in society; now maybe the film about his life can do the same. All financial proceeds from the online release of the documentary film Ken Dewey – This Is A Test will be donated to create a new grant for artists.

100% of all online sales will be donated to the legendary New York art institution Franklin Furnace Archive and its mission to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, cultural bias, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content.

In 1987 Franklin Furnace presented Action Theatre: The Happenings of Ken Dewey, a retrospective exhibition and catalogue by curator/author Barbara Moore. Now they are teaming up with filmmaker Sally Williams and Ken Dewey's family to create a film distribution strategy that directly funds a new artist's grant, The Ken Dewey Fund. This new grant will enable an artist or scholar to work in New York City and create a piece of performance art or academic project inspired by some element of the film Ken Dewey – This Is A Test.

The film will be launched online February 14, 2018 and, much like Kickstarter campaigns, the grant will take effect only if $30,000 is raised in the first 6 months. If more funds are raised the grant will be run annually for as long as the funds regenerate. If less than $30,000 is raised, all funds will go to the mission of Franklin Furnace, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Please visit this link for more information and to stream Ken Dewey – This Is A Test: www.thekendeweyfilm.com

"This type of distribution strategy has the potential to create a self-sustaining grant for artists. Unlike the usual trajectory of an independent film that makes a splash and disappears – we are essentially gifting this film to artists in the hope they will use it in a generative way." – Filmmaker Sally Williams

The total fund available to an artist or scholar will be $20,000USD. Remaining funds will pay for tax, credit card fees, Vimeo service charges, and the cost of administering the Ken Dewey Fund.

Ken Dewey died tragically in 1972 and this is the first and only documentary film to be made about his life. In his too brief career Dewey's life intersected with a diverse set of cultural icons, activists and influencers: Chet Baker, Lee Breuer, John Giorno, Jon Hendricks, John Lennon, Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, Anthony Martin, Charlotte Moorman, Odetta, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Terry Riley, Carolee Schneemann, Ramon Sender, Robert Wilson, and many others.

With the film's backdrop of racial tension, Native American injustices, environmental pollution by large corporations and the invasion of new media into every home in America, it is hard not to draw parallels with today.

Dewey deeply believed that the potential of art to impact society in a tangible way was grossly under-utilized. Half a century after his death, the film of his life hopes to honor his legacy.

"I am not interested in devoting my life to a fringe curiosity or diversion. It is precisely because I feel that the theatre can function in a substantial and meaningful way that I choose to be a part of it." – Ken Dewey

If the $30,000 target is reached by August 14th, 2018 then details of how artists and scholars can apply for the Ken Dewey Fund will be posted here. A panel will then convene and review submissions to select an artist or scholar to travel to New York City to realize their vision. NYC residents are also encouraged to apply.

Salient Films
Sally Williams

Franklin Furnace Archive
Harley Spiller

The Ken Dewey Fund will take effect only if $30,000USD is raised by September 28, 2018. If more is raised the grant will be run annually for as long as funds regenerate. If less is raised, all funds, which are tax deductible to the limit allowed by law, will go to the mission of Franklin Furnace, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.