According to Urban Dictionary, break bread is a phrase “used to describe a social interaction where something is shared” and can be applied “food, money, commodities, assets, or other various items.” Community Bread —a queer-owned livestream and resource platform — has been breaking bread with marginalized performers since the COVID-19 crisis put NYC’s nightlife on hold last March. “Community Bread comes from the notion of ‘Let’s get this bread’ and supporting the starved community by putting ‘bread on the table,” says Arthur Kozlov, who founded Community Bread along with partners Angela Fan and Paul Bui. “It’s the idea of nourishing a communal approach to financial sustainability in a time where DJs, artists, performers, event producers and essentially anyone in the music, nightlife and events lost their jobs.”
The Community Bread crew curates live audio and visual streams that feature performances and interviews and support the artists involved, as well as LGBTQ+ aligned organizations, charities and movements such as The Trans Women of Color Collective, G.L.I.T.S., ORAM and Black Lives Matter. The most recent event was the +28 HR NYE Fundraiser stream, which raised funds in support of homeless LGBTQ youth. Here, the minds behind Community Bread discuss the importance of community support.
Where did the idea for Community Bread originate?
AK: Community Bread spawned out of necessity back in March, when the world was forced into isolation, jobs were lost across the board and uncertainty loomed over everyone’s futures. I had the idea to create an interactive platform where creatives could still showcase their craft in a digital environment, while remaining connected with their communities. The goal was to find a way to financially support struggling artists when governments and policies had failed us. Angela offered her technical prowess to build the foundation for the website and stream integration, then Paul joined to create the visual branding, assist with curated content and social media, solidifying Community Bread for what it’s known today.
PB: As longtime music lovers and ravers, we were devastated to see how this global pandemic affected artists in the music scene we treasure so much. We’ve never had aspirations to be event producers or party promoters. We’re dancers, first and foremost, and with nowhere to dance (and haven’t witnessed the co-opting of queer spaced and white-washing of techno) we wanted to come up with leftfield solutions on how to help marginalized artists earn coin during this tumultuous time. Not only that, but also how to connect collectives from around the world that share our same values. Community Bread grew from these notions organically.
Who is behind Community Bread? What’s everyone’s role?
AK: Arthur Kozlovski, Angela Fan and Paul Bui run Community Bread and each provide a critical pillar in sustaining and building the platform. Arthur manages operations, development and streams. Angela is our Tech Director, responsible for building out the website and technical architecture. Paul is the Creative Director who structures the visual identity, content and social media. Collectively, we’ve worked on facilitating every aspect of the platform in order to bring the concept to life.
What goes into curating a Community Bread Livestream lineup?
AK: The main focus revolves around highlighting the vibrant creatives that are the driving force in queer communities around the world while having important dialogues centered on artistry, togetherness and political engagement as we figure out the future together. We also embrace the new dynamics of the digital realm, incorporating visuals into the DJ sets to deliver an immersive audio and visual experience.
PB: As Arthur mentioned, we put a lot of thought into curating our lineups. Clout, fame and followers are not deciding factors. We look at artists that are making positive impacts for QTPOC and LGBTQ+ folks in their own community, whether that’s Ana Laura from notorious Berlin queer collective Mala Junta, Antpuke that runs Club Carry —a collective that seeks to highlight and raise funds for trans people or Amanda Mussi —the architect behind one of São Paulo’s only queer techno night Dusk. Obviously, their music is important, but how they harness that music into something positive for their community is our main barometer for curation.
“The idea of community has never been so important, even though we are isolated as a result of the global pandemic. It is up to all of us to rebuild and shape the future, and strive to collectively fix the broken systems of the past.”
With such eclectic lineups featuring acts from around the world has it been difficult putting together the lineups?
AK: Producing a digital event allows us to bring in artists of varying styles and mediums while not having to cater to a singular identity for the stream’s duration, much like a typical nightlife event. This allows for really interesting crossovers in the audiences who tune into our streams. We can invite artists from every corner of the world, especially those in communities that we seldom hear from who are involved in creating their queer spaces and cultures, while connecting them with viewers who would have never experienced their work otherwise.
PB: Our whole mission is to raise funds for these artists and uplift their community, so everyone so far has been super wonderful to work with and very receptive. The only issue is trying to narrow the lineup down as there’s so many artists and we can’t fit everyone on the bill haha.
The Community Bread Livestreams have raised funds for organizations like ORAM and G.L.I.T.S. How do you choose which charities to support?
AF: We lean towards organizations that support members of the marginalized LGBTQ+ community, especially ones that provide direct support to those who need it most. Because we are headquartered in NYC, we tend to hear most about U.S. causes. We also look to our national and international collectives and communities for the chance to learn about organizations in need of support on a global level.
How important is it that discussions such as the ones with Raja Gemini and Cakes Da Killa are a part of Community Bread projects?
AF: Realistically, nobody expects online events to replace the club experience. What the cadence of an online stream does allow for, is intimate listening experiences and conversations. The candid discussions we have with artists like Raja and Cakes are absolutely core to what makes Community Bread special.
PB: As Angela said, these candid conversations are special, as they’re unedited, natural and we really try to dive deep into issues that are meaningful, relevant and not often shared by the artists — rather than your standard music interview questions. We want our audience to feel like they’re part of this conversation. There is an intimacy and openness that we try to instill in these segments, as it’s an unrehearsed conversation not a one-sided interview. We hope it comes across that way.
AK: Conversations with artists like Cakes Da Killa and Kevin Aviance hold incredible weight as they engage with social and political topics that affect our communities near and far. These vital discussions are necessary for invoking collective, progressive change throughout our communities, cities, countries, and realities as we work together to build a future from the pandemic ruins.
What’s been the dopest part of putting together Community Bread Livestreams?
AF: Learning about and meeting artists from around the world. Getting to break out of physical geographies, and getting to share our platform with collectives like ELEPHANT out of Bangkok and unexpected audiences around the world.
PB: Totally agree. Being able to connect with all these incredible collectives around the world and also seeing the joy and positivity our platform has brought to people and how it can help other communities has been incredibly fulfilling and humbling.
AK: During this tumultuous isolating period, it is so beautiful to see our communities from around the world come together, experience each other’s creativity, support one another and engage in important dialogues that are crucial to shaping our futures as we move through the pandemic. To have this outlet as a means of staying connected during our darkest timeline has kept me somewhat sane and hopeful for the future. I’ve met a lot of brilliant talent and community leaders as a result of Community Bread.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned since the COVID crisis began?
AF: At the risk of sounding passé, we live in unprecedented times, and nobody has the map for where the queer nightlife and creative community goes from here. The old models are not supportive of most except for the most established artists to begin with. The situation outside has left huge holes where there used to be a vibrant community, as well as opportunities. As we’ve built up Community Bread over the last six months, we’ve found that our own community is resilient, hopeful, and ready to figure out what comes next, together.
PB: For me, personally, I’ve learnt that while we physically may be alone, there are still ways for us to connect and be together. I hope Community Bread can help facilitate that. Obviously, nothing beats being on a sweaty crowded dance floor, but as times change and evolve, we are slowly discovering new formats of how to engage with each other, music and our community in meaningful ways. I’ve also learnt that even though we’re separated, we all really need each other. Maybe that’s not physically shoulder to shoulder at a warehouse rave, but in a Twitch chat room. Whatever the case, we need each other.
AK: The idea of community has never been so important, even though we are isolated as a result of the global pandemic. It is up to all of us to rebuild and shape the future, and strive to collectively fix the broken systems of the past. We all have our stories & our passions, and together we could utilize our skills to work towards a collective, brighter future. Community Bread is just one small step to making that happen.