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A new grant for a new hat: Curt Oren pays it forward


We all remember the hat, right? Way back when the year 2015 was winding to a close, the powers that be at Buzzfeed — or at least one lucky writer — helped bring Iowa City musician Curt Oren’s story to the world, when he landed smack dab at the top of the website’s list of “25 People We Should All Aspire To Be In 2016.” Their call to arms? “We should all be as confident as Curt.”

Be like Curt! Photo by Curt Oren.
Be like Curt! Photo by Curt Oren.

With the help of the newly established New Hat Grant, now you can.

When Oren and his friend Ben Crouse first embarked on the Curt’s New Hat adventure, they set up the website www.curtsnewhat.com to help drive the story. The site became a source for donations sent by people from all over the world. Realizing how much he was receiving, Oren instigated a plan to help others follow their wild dreams and enact their crazy schemes.

He got together with the team at Public Space One to create the Curt Oren Memorial Institute for Comedic Safety, a grant that will be awarded quarterly in the amount of $500. It’s a “non-restrictive use” grant, which means it is, according to Oren, “by design completely open and accessible to anybody.”

Potential applicants have only to answer the committee’s one simple question: “Why you?” Applications must be submitted through the form on the PS1 website.

Committee members making the decision include PS1 director John Engelbrecht, Trumpet Blossom Cafe owner Katy Meyer, artist and former UI professor David Dunlap, Guns x Butter Clothing owner (and LV staff member) Simeon Talley and Oren himself. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Mar. 23; the very first grant will be awarded on Apr. 1.


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