A&E Guide 2013: Spotlight on arts innovator Nick Covault

What do puppets, putt-putt, graphic novels and Baroque music have in common? All are happening in Louisville, and all have taken part in the newest Kickstarter-esque kid in town, PosSOUPbility.

The brainchild of Nick Covault and Beth Henson, PosSOUPbility takes crowd-funding to a deliciously new level. Rather than relying on flashy videos or social-media campaigns, PosSOUPbility uses community dinners (serving, you guessed it, soup). Each attendee pays $10 admission, hears presentations from that evening’s contenders over a shared meal, and then votes at the end of the night for which project will receive the event’s proceeds.

Covault and Henson got the idea for the dinners from a friend and fellow Governor’s School for the Arts alum who runs similar events in Kansas City as part of the nationwide Sunday Soup Network. “It just made a lot of sense for Louisville,” Covault explains. “It’s a very grassroots effort, and we’re a very foodie town. We thought it would be wildly fantastic if we could get 60 people at the first event; 120 showed up.”

Covault is a dynamic guy, speaking with evident enthusiasm about PosSOUPbility and the atmosphere it generates. “Really, we’re just making a space for people to share their ideas,” he explains. “We’ve always felt that the fact that people are funding an idea is the cherry on top. The real purpose is to bring the community together in an environment that is conducive to meeting new people and hearing new ideas, not just ways we can fix problems but also ways we can create good in our community.”

This collaborative spirit is “one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning,” Covault says. The co-chair of the board of directors at Squallis Puppeteers and programming manger for the Kentucky Center for the Arts has his finger in many artistic pies, and he is always looking for ways to push the boundaries of how we define art and to celebrate the immense creative spirit of Louisville. From stage-managing a puppet opera to bringing a modern dance company to the Frazier Rehabilitation Clinic, Covault works to “create more colorful, wacky happenings in this city that loves to call itself weird.”

Particularly with his work at the Kentucky Center — which ranges from enhancing the experience of seeing a mainstage show through pre-show drink specials and live music to expanding the community impact of the international performance groups the Center brings to town — Covault is all about “celebrating the notion of creativity in the everyday lifestyle of an average human being.”

“I consider it my challenge here to be expressing the notion that you don’t have to pay for a ticket to sit in a dark theater to enjoy creativity or the arts,” he says. “Art can be in your everyday life — it can be in your neighborhood, it can be on your sidewalk, it can be in your living room. And it can be in great big 2,400-seat theaters. It’s that connector between all of us.”