Funk Museum plans new traveling exhibit and online learning tools

·4 min read

Apr. 28—Despite the fact The Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center (also known as "TheFunkCenter") does not currently have a physical space, the museum is in the process of planning an expansion that includes interactive content on its website and a traveling exhibit.

In March 2019, TheFunkCenter, which celebrated its grand opening in 2018, announced the closure of its physical museum space in downtown Dayton's Fire Blocks District due to issues with a new developer. Currently, TheFunkCenter is seeking donations from the public to help create their dream space. Donations can be made to this effort by visiting TheFunkCenter's website.

TheFunkCenter has been busy spreading the word about the importance of funk music through a number of ventures such as a cable access television show featuring interviews with funk musicians and other newsworthy items available on YouTube. One of TheFunkCenter's latest creations is The Dayton Scene Radio Show, hosted by TheFunkCenter president and CEO David Webb, Trent D'Arby and Anthony "Kool Breeze" Hakim, which features interviews with funk musicians in order to better understand the impact of the genre.

Recently, TheFunkCenter, in collaboration with Columbus-based EduTechnologic LLC and a group of Ohio State University students, launched two brand new interactive visualization interfaces on their website. The first "visualization" is a searchable timeline embedded with information and videos regarding the history of funk music. The other "visualization" allows users to type in any funk artist, song or album into a search bar, and from there, will be presented a musical discography and history of that funk artist, song or album through embedded features like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, YouTube and Wikipedia articles.

"The visualization interface is specifically targeted at a younger demographic, allowing people to create their own musical journey," said Brad Henry, CEO EduTechnologic LLC. "It moves beyond a basic web search by aggregating information into a highly visual experience. When done correctly, visualizations can be fun and engaging, and I believe we have done just that. One of the next steps will be to work with educators to develop a curriculum that promoted music education and to be an inspiration to future funkateers."

TheFunkCenter is also hoping to bring the funk to a space near you. Back in 2019, Joseph Karadin, the executive creative director of TESSELLATE, contacted Webb to create some sort of traveling museum exhibit. Two years later, TESSELLATE and TheFunkCenter collaborated to create the Funk Box.

Essentially shaped like a musician's road case, the Funk Box is a hands-free, motion-activated exhibit that allows users to create their very own funk music simply by moving their hands over the sensors associated with different instruments.

"When you move your hand around, it moves the cursor around on the screen in front of you," said Karadin. "So, it allows you to have a touchscreen experience without actually touching the screen. And so, as you wave your hand over the sensor, it'll pull up different music samples. It'll pull up the drums, and then it'll pull up the guitar and the bass. You'll basically be able to start adding different instruments to the song as you're moving your hand over the sensors."

In order to create the sound clips used in the Funk Box, TESSELLATE and TheFunkCenter enlisted the help of multiple funk musicians, including Vernon Porter, African American Studies professor Scot Brown and Joseph Wooten of the Steve Miller Band. TheFunkCenter's Fox Box is set to be finished in August of 2021. Webb hopes to bring the traveling exhibit to learning spaces like libraries, colleges, schools and private gatherings.

"Dayton, Ohio is the funk capital of the world," said Webb. "Music education is important to bring people together. Funk music was a lost art form but we're bringing it back to life. I always say Ohio is the heart of all funk music and Dayton, Ohio is the nerve center of funk."

In addition, TheFunkCenter is planning another Hall of Fame induction and symposium event. The event, which is tentatively slated to happen over the course of three days in November, will honor James Brown, George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic and Ohio Players. Neal Gittleman, artistic director and conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sharon Davis Gratto, a professor of music at the University of Dayton, will also organize aspects of the event.

For more information about TheFunkCenter, pay a visit to their website or Facebook page.

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