Philadelphia resident Dan Schimmel is an artist, father, and the Director of the Esther Klein Gallery (EKG) at the University City Science Center. He is leading the gallery’s transformation into Breadboard, NextFab Studio’s non-profit partner. We caught up with him this week over e-mail…
What is Breadboard in a nutshell?
In conjunction with EKG exhibitions Breadboard aims to give people an opportunity to develop creative ideas and make things using NextFab resources. Breadboard will maintain a 700 square foot community space on the ground floor of 3711 Market Street, adjacent to NextFab Studio. Breadboard user groups and our extended community can schedule use of this space for staging activities relevant to Breadboard initiatives. We want to lower the barrier of access to creative tools and introduce the public to some amazing new technology.
Can you give us a sneak preview into any of Breadboard’s future programs?
Breadboard evolved out of EKG programming and partnerships. So you could say that community partnership is encoded into Breadboard’s program objectives. The aim is to develop cross-disciplinary projects with both arts and non-arts organizations and communities.
We are working to develop an afterschool workshop for Philadelphia students with the aim to engage youth with creative tools and technologies. We are also exploring ideas for an artist residency program that would give visiting artists full access to NextFab Studio facilities combined with an exhibition opportunity at Breadboard’s EKG space located across the street at 3600 Market Street. Several local colleges and universities have also expressed interest in collaborating on Breadboard programming.
Concurrent with program development we are working to cultivate sponsorships and funding support from the Philadelphia business community and local and national granting foundations. This will be key to any program initiatives we launch in the future.
Are there examples of organizations similar to Breadboard in other cities?
Rhizome.org, based in New York City, is an art and technology organization that has an international following and a great online resource for people interested in art and technology. NYC Resistor is a hacker collective that maintains shared space in Brooklyn and generates community through group activities, generally focused on using tools and technology to make things. We have not only contacted these organizations we have partnered with them in past EKG exhibits and programs.
What makes Breadboard unique?
Breadboard is a unique partnership between a for-profit company, NextFab Studio, and a non-profit program, Breadboard. We promote and explore creative applications of technology through our blog and website but also have an exhibition space (EKG) and a new, 700 square foot community space. Not to mention unique access to NextFab, a rapid prototyping workshop that most hacker spaces would surrender their twitter accounts and soldering irons to gain regular access.
I think Breadboard is a new model for arts programming at a time when there is a lot of cross pollination between the arts, design, science, and technology communities.
What kind of impact will Breadboard have on the programming of the Esther Klein Gallery?
Breadboard allows us to invite artists to create new work on site, at NextFab and exhibit it at EKG. This makes for an exciting opportunity. Not only to exhibit innovative artists’ work but to exhibit, so to speak, the artists at work.
One thing is for sure, EKG installations will be a lot more fun having NextFab across the street. We’ll be able to fabricate display systems, laser cut gallery signage, custom design and cut vinyl text and banners, and most importantly, 3D print cheese whiz and peanut butter on crackers for opening night hors d’oeuvres.
I understand you’re an artist as well - do you have plans to work on any of your own custom fabrication projects at Breadboard?
Yeah, all the parts to a super funky playground set for my 2-year old, Eve and her sister Ally. I’ll be sure to post some photos when I finish!