The Sham Foundation Muffin Endowment

Title: The Sham Foundation Muffin Endowment
Year: 2007-2011
Medium: Intervention Project
Description: The Sham Foundation was established in 2007 to fund the ongoing gift of one daily muffin in perpetuity.  The project was located at a diner in Skowhegan, ME.  This diner, the Empire Grill, was originally built as a set to film Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, an HBO film adaptation of the Pulitzer-prize winning novel.  The foundation consisted of 71 members and trustees, all of whom contributed to the muffin fund in various and anonymous amounts. Members of the foundation were either local residents and business-owners, artists, or members of the film community involved with the film (Ed Harris and Paul Newman).  The fund was invested in the surrounding businesses via a local bank, and the interest generated was calculated to pay for 1 muffin each day in perpetuity.  Each day, members of the waitstaff had to debate the symbolic value of the muffin and decide a recipient.  Over the course of 3 years, the muffin has been awarded to a large percentage of the town’s small population.  Among the distinguished recipients are Senators, local heroes and villains; the muffin has become a centerpiece in the town’s anecdotal life.  Unfortunately the Empire Grill, victim to the downturn in the economy, closed in 2011 and with it the project.  Each member received their initial investment back at the project’s termination.