Non-profit organisation, Cosmic Burger, supports creative thinkers, artists and innovators to get their projects off the ground.
From the very beginning, Cosmic Burger’s main goal has been to support artists and creatives, with a special focus on the musical sphere. Looking at how small ideas can often transcend their initial premise; the non-profit organisation has grown, with their field of action spreading across several creative areas, from product design to social development projects.
With the pandemic forcing them to adapt, Cosmic Burger was inspired by the motto of the 2020 World Economic Forum and decided to announce their very own great reset, trying to end misconceptions about them. They state that they are not a record label, an agency nor a production company. Cosmic Burger is in fact here to help creatives, to create original content and projects that promote change, equality, and non-violence.
Notion caught up with Cosmic Burger director, Francisco Quintas, to discuss how they have changed as an organisation over the past year, how they hope to raise further awareness of issues such as racism, gender equality and LBTQ+ rights going forward, and what the meaning behind their peculiar name is.
When did you first become interested in supporting creative artists and innovators?
Every one of us has a special bond with the creative sector, I’ve been a producer for a cultural venue here in Portugal for the last 8 years, Carolina is a visual artist and Tiago is a musician since a young age. Being so close to the reality of artists and innovators we felt the need to create an alternative to help them and to try to bring their projects into reality. It’s a really difficult task since our platform is completely independent and getting the needed funding to reach our goals is a Dantesque mission. However, we are here to stay.
What sparked the creation of Cosmic Burger and how did it come into existence?
Since all of us are creatives and have friends that share the same passion for innovation and arts, we started to feel that this is a sector with structural deficiencies. We have amazing minds among us struggling not only to turn their projects into reality but most shockingly, not being able to pay their rent or buy food in the supermarket. This is completely nonsensical.
How can you have ideas, and projects that can inspire generations or change the world in so many ways, but are limited because they lack support or resources? So we created Cosmic Burger, and we believe that in any shape or form we can change the life of some of these creators.
We’re curious, what inspired the name?
I must be honest, the name sounds kinda weird to almost everyone, but it’s representative of the impact that we want to generate in the community. Cosmic is the metaphysical, the mystical, what’s beyond us and beyond the realm of the mundane. Burger, being a deceivingly simple dish, is also one of the most difficult to perfect — a metaphor for how small ideas can often transcend their initial premise.
We could have gone to a more typical or conventional name, but where’s the fun in that?
What have you learnt during the events of the past year and how has that changed you as an organisation?
Initially, we as a platform were almost exclusively dedicated to music and to the edition of records. It was an industry that was familiar to us, and it was the right thing to do to begin this project.
However, during the pandemic, we felt the urge to be more active in other sectors, from mentorship programs to product design, we are now developing projects that can help creatives from any sector. We also decided to create a new department inside our organisation dedicated exclusively to performing arts.
Strangely, we are now preparing two festivals that will happen from May to July 2021. One of them is called FENDA and focused on urban arts and the other one with the name ‘Entre Cidades’ (Between Cities) that will create an exchange of artists between three different cities, an important first step for the recovery of the cultural sector after the lockdown.
With this festivals we expect to inject some capital into the cultural industry, helping not only artists but producers, sound engineers, light designers, riggers, and many other professionals that saw their lives limited by the events of last year.
Who makes up the core team at Cosmic Burger and what does each member offer?
The core team consists of three persons, myself as founder, Carolina works as project manager and financial advisor, and then we have Tiago our production coordinator.
It’s a really young team (I’m the oldest — 32), and highly creative and motivated. Since every one of us has a background related to arts or creativity, this makes us super sensitive to the struggles and difficulties that artists and innovators face almost on a daily basis.
Besides, the core team, we have other persons working with us like Susana Brandão (responsible for our performing arts department), Pedro Pereira (our amazing designer) and Raquel Luz (communication).
Can you talk to us about your recent partnership with Life Rebel and what your mission is together?
We decided to partner up with Life Rebel, a Portuguese certified masks brand, and created a collection called #UnidosPelaCultura (#UnitedForCulture), where all the profits were donated to União Audiovisual, an organisation that is providing food, shelter, and clothing to live show professionals in need.
The initiative was really well received, not only by the public but also by some artists that decided to join us as ambassadors. We had the pleasure to have Conan Osíris, Dino D’Santiago, Branko among others spreading the word, and creating awareness for this cause.
Besides your work with Life Rebel, which new project are you most excited about and why?
As I said previously, we are now preparing two festivals for this summer and the preparation of those events is our top priority. But we already have a few projects that will happen from September onwards, like Orbit, Skylab, and Pulsar.
Orbit and Skylab are two mentorship programs focused on artists and creatives, we hope to put them in touch with professionals and give them the right tools to professionalize their careers.
Pulsar is an open call that challenges female artists to send us their music. With this we hope to bring women out of their home studios and showcase their talent to the world, creating equal opportunities for all, we hope to announce the second edition of this initiative until the end of the year.
You also work closely with artists including Blackoyote, Isa Leen and St. James Park. Why have you chosen to support the development of these particular artists and what makes them stand out?
We wanted to work more closely with some artists, in order to help them with their careers and with more control over strategic decisions and actions. However, this is a super-sensitive subject and we only wanted to work with artists that we already knew personally for a few years. We believe that this kind of work needs confidence and trust, and that’s why we only do this with a really restricted group of people. Then, they need to be artistically relevant and be aligned with our goals and ideals.
This works basically as our non-profit agency/label department since we don’t own any masters, or profit from this work we are developing with them. We want to help musicians, not exploit them.
How do you hope to further raise awareness of issues such as racism, gender equality and LBTQ+ rights going forward?
In every project, we develop we try to send a message or create awareness to some cause, and there are some issues we want to tackle from mental health to gender equality.
We are focused on giving the right tools and opportunities to minorities and some of our next projects are completely focused on those.
Orbit is a good example, an initiative that will focus on four social housing areas to train young musicians and give them the tools to become professionals. We will favour those belonging to minorities, different ethnicities, from several countries, and in fragile socio-economic conditions. We want to facilitate the social integration of these young people through the production and co-creation of a record, which may be the first step towards their professionalisation as artists. Also, we are super happy to have the prolific producer Holly, joining us as a mentor, spokesperson, and ambassador of this initiative.
What are your main goals for 2021?
For 2021 we want to finish all projects we are working on successfully, not only helping artists but also providing culture and innovation to everyone that has been somehow limited by the pandemic.
We are also looking for partners that can help us with funding. As a non-profit organisation this is the most difficult part of the process, so if you are reading this and you think you can help us, just visit our website and get in touch.