thinkEAST Team

 

Richard deVarga - Owner and Developer, thinkEAST

Richard deVarga is an owner, general partner and manager of thinkEAST.  Richard has over twenty years of experience with the City of Austin's development process including site and campus planning, architectural design, financing and project management. Richard will assist in the site and infrastructure planning efforts for the Fusebox Festival and will be the direct interface with consultants engaged in place making and planning for the new creative community district.

Richard's focus is exclusively on urban, concept driven, industrial-edged projects developed affordably for the creative sector. Richard has been responsible for the design and development of over 140 units of urban mixed-use, multifamily, live-work and industrial studios totaling over 150,000 sf of construction. Richard’s last project, Cobra Studios, was a finalist for the 2012 Austin Business Journals Commercial Real Estate Awards (For Sale Multifamily Category) along with the Four Seasons Residences and the W Hotel Condominiums. Richard also designed and developed the Smith/Works Industrial Arts Condominiums and The Pedernales Live+Work Lofts. Richard’s Cobra Studios received the Austin Energy Green Building Program’s highest scoring 5-star rated project in the multi-family division in 2010. His Pedernales Lofts was the Austin’s highest scoring SMART Growth project in 2003 and Austin Energy’s highest scoring Green Building 5-star rated mixed-use project in 2006. Recently, the Pedernales Lofts was a featured case study in Urban Land Institute's Workforce Housing: Innovative Strategies and Best Practices.

 

Robert Summers - Owner and Developer, thinkEAST

Robert Summers is an owner, general partner and manager of thinkEAST.   He is a lawyer and arts advocate. Robert has organized art exhibitions, published catalog essays, and served as a guest curator at public institutions including Baylor University's Martin Museum and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.  He has also led arts and architectural preservation efforts.  He is a founding director of the Center for Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art and has served on the boards of the Austin Museum of Art and Arthouse Texas.  Robert's focus is new urbanism and arts-driven social policy.

 

Ron Berry – Executive & Artistic Director, Fusebox Festival

Ron Berry is the founder and Artistic Director of the Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX. Ron has guided the organization through ten years of critically acclaimed programming for the stage, gallery and screen.  His projects have been nominated for and won over 100 awards. He has served as a panelist for a number of prominent organizations including: the NEA, the MAP Fund, Creative Capital, The Idea Fund, Texas Commission on the Arts, and SXSW. He has been invited to speak at gatherings, festivals, and conferences all over the world, including: Festival Transamerique (Montreal), Push International Festival (Vancouver), Time Based Art Festival (Portland, OR), Meteor Festival (Norway), and has been a repeat guest speaker for Leadership Austin, and the University of Texas. Under his leadership, the Fusebox Festival has grown from a budget of $5,000, audiences of a few hundred and no paid staff to a budget of $400,000, three full-time professional staff and has emerged as a contemporary art event unlike any in the southern US.

 

Brad Carlin – Managing Director, Fusebox Festival

Brad is the Managing Director of the Fusebox Festival, a hybrid art and performance festival in Austin, TX. He received a Masters Degree in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in theatre from St. Edward’s University. Brad has worked in management and fundraising for SITI Company (NYC), Salvage Vanguard Theatre (Austin), and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (San Antonio). He is an adjunct professor of Arts Administration at St. Edward's University and an alum of the Theatre Communications Group New Generations Fellowship, University of Texas LBJ School Strategic Management Program, and APAP Leadership Development Institute.

 

Janet Seibert – Civic Arts Program Consultant, 
City of Austin Economic Development Department

Seibert’s current charge includes creative space development and creating a process for Regeneration Projects (neighborhood revitalization projects) using arts, culture, and place-based strategies. In this capacity Seibert began working with the 2 project developers and recommended the ArtPlace grant as a possible vehicle for helping to create the kind of creative development they envisioned. She is an active member of the team crafting the vision and performs as the single point of contact to the City.

Over the thirty years Seibert has lived in Austin she has been on all sides of the cultural fence.  She’s been a practicing public artist, curator and artist-in-resident, and active citizen artist. In her list of achievements she played active roles in creating the Austin Art in Public Places Program, the Downtown Austin Design Guidelines, and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport place-based strategies. Since working for the City (1997) Seibert has implemented numerous cultural economic development strategies – facilitating a community-wide civic dialogue with TCA on the role of art, artists, and the urban environment; staff to the 2003 Mayor’s Task Force on the Economy; created the AUSTIN ARTS Book; co-managed the Downtown Arts Development Study; created the Next Level Technical Assistance Program; and oversaw the community-wide CreateAustin cultural planning process. She is now the team lead of the Creative Economy Priority Program implementing the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, linked to the Land Development Code Revision and the Capital Improvement Program Strategic Plan.

 

Fred Schmidt

Fred Schmidt was a political refugee from Poland as a child, grew up in Detroit, and has now been a 24-year resident of Austin, Texas, dividing his work time between that city, Los Angeles and London.  In Austin he is a partner/mentor in Capital Factory, a top national incubator/accelerator facility nurturing over 200 tech startups to success.  He is also co-founder of his own 4th tech company, Portalarium, and co-founder/CEO of a collection of unique Austin lifestyle retail businesses: Wild About Music, Austin Rocks Texas and Toy Joy.  Fred is very active in civic and community affairs serving on the boards of the Downtown Austin Alliance (an urban PID), the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, the St. Edward’s University School of Management & Business, and formerly the East 6th Street Historic & Entertainment District Association.  He also serves as the Mayor’s liaison in building the thriving Sister Cities relationship, grounded in the tech and creative industries, between Austin and the London Borough of Hackney, home to the UK’s flourishing “Tech City” scene.  Fred’s role in the Fusebox/ThinkEast project is that of a bridge between the worlds of art and commerce, for-profit and non-profit.  He will be working on innovative contemporary practices for coworking, collaboration, incubation and acceleration taken from the pages of successful lean startups and helping to facilitate how they can apply to the economic and social ecosystem of the ThinkEast community – both for the Fusebox charette phase and as sustainable models for permanent co-tenanting in the final project build.

 

FUSEBOX

Fusebox champions artists exploring fresh terrain from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives. We present contemporary theater, dance, film, visual art, music, literature, and everything in between. This cross-disciplinary approach is central to our understanding of creativity, innovation and meaningful dialogue.

For the past 11 years, Fusebox has been using arts, culture, and creativity to explore place. Their internationally recognized Fusebox Festival annually reaches 30,000 people in 12 days of events, performances, conversations, classes, and exhibitions from hundreds of local, national and international artists in dozens of locations all over Austin. The Fusebox Festival is one of only a couple of its kind in the US and has been profiled in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and other local, regional, and national media outlets and publications. Fusebox has been nominated for and won over 175 awards, including prestigious awards from ArtPlace America, National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, National Performance Network, MAP Fund, to name a few. 

For more information about Fusebox visit fuseboxfestival.com

 

ARTPLACE AMERICA

ArtPlace America supports creative initiatives that aim to shape community's social, physical, and economic futures based on art and culture. They have given over 180 grants to projects similar to thinkEAST all over the country in an effort to increase the impact of art and culture in American communities.  

ArtPlace America awarded thinkEAST a grant in June of 2014 to utilize the "Living Charrette" to transform the former Austin tank farm and to improve the growing art community in East Austin.