Fordham grads are at the heart of a new collective giving artists and audiences space to develop and discover new works.

How do up-and-coming artists break through, and how do people discover new and exciting art?

A group of Fordham graduates thinks they have an answer. The Village is a new collective that the graduates created to support artists through live events that create community, similar to what they experienced as students at the University’s Lincoln Center campus.

“Our [art and media] consumption has become very individual and yet so impersonal because all of our feeds are just churning out more of what we already like,” said Marc David Wright, a 2019 Fordham College at Lincoln Center graduate and co-founder of the Village. “Our events provide a bit of excitement and surprise.”

Wright launched the collective a few years ago with Caroline Potter Shriver, a 2019 graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA in dance program, to give artists a place to share their work—or works in progress—with engaged audiences through live events called salons.

Singers, dancers, poets, writers, and visual and performing artists of all kinds can apply to be a part of the events, which are held four times a year and typically feature about 10 artists a night. The next one is scheduled to take place at Ideal Glass Studios in Greenwich Village on March 25. The salons are broken into three parts—a visual arts showcase, performances, and an after party featuring a DJ and an opportunity for artists and attendees to mingle.

Art for Humans, Curated by Humans

Shriver said that they curate the events so there’s a “diversity of artists and art types,” and people leave the events “feeling so inspired to create.” The mix of genres is designed not only to entertain audiences but also connect artists across disciplines.

“If they’re a painter and they saw an actor do something really cool, and now they’re thinking about how they can bring their art into the performance art space—just the creativity and the inspiration that comes from being celebrated is really impactful,” Shriver said.

Wright said he, Shriver, and Dana Seach, FCLC ’19, GABELLI ’20, the third member of the team, work to foster that kind of cross-pollination.

“We have preliminary artists’ socials before every salon in which just the artists present their work for one another, and we ask specific feedback of each other,” he said. “And it really just took me back to Fordham Theatre’s cultivating of community and of collaboration, which I think has greatly influenced the vibes of the Village.”

Shriver and Wright got the idea for the Village when they were working together on The Stella Show—Shriver’s one-woman performance piece exploring “sisterhood, grief, and the unpredictable magic of memory.”

The Stella Show premiered as a full-length production at IRT Theater in October 2023. (Courtesy of the Village)

The pair had developed a 15-minute segment in 2021 and wanted to get some feedback on it. At the same time, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, they sensed a desire among artists to reconnect. That fall, in a friend’s Tribeca loft, they shared their work with some friends who were also “working on things that weren’t really ready, but were ready for some kind of audience,” Shriver said.

After it was over, Wright and Shriver said everyone immediately asked, “When are we doing this again?” And like that, the Village was formed.

A Growing Community

After that initial gathering, Seach reached out and said she wanted to get involved. Seach, who earned a bachelor’s degree in film and TV and a master’s in media management at Fordham, now serves as the group’s managing director, with Shriver and Wright as artistic directors. Wright also handles marketing and social media, and Shriver works on fundraising, sponsorships, and community outreach.

The Village has hosted eight salons in the past two years in Manhattan, selling out small studio spaces. The co-founders expect the upcoming Salon 9 to be their biggest event to date, as the group has continued to grow. The collective is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service that allows them to take in donations that support the events and some of the artists’ works.

While most salons have been in New York City, in February the team expanded to the West Coast. Working with fellow Fordham alumni David Kahawaii IV, FCLC ’18, and Elizabeth Kline, FCLC ’19, the group produced its first event in Los Angeles.

“I feel like every salon improves from the last one, and I felt that was still the case with this, even though we were starting fresh out there,” Seach said. “I think just the opportunity to expand our community is so exciting and great for us.”

Three people look at a computer
The team behind the Village works to create community at and beyond their events.