“I had no intention originally of taking it this far,” Greenberg said. He even moved out of his home in January to repurpose it as a classroom for the nonprofit Knowledge Commons D.C., which fosters the open exchange of information and expertise by putting on classes anywhere from public parks to Metro cars. And now, Greenberg’s apartment.
His project has taken off, Greenberg said, “partly by design, but largely by momentum.”
Perhaps that’s because Greenberg’s one-room center for arts and culture appeals in this well-educated city to people who are looking for a high-level exchange of ideas in a low-key setting. It has joined a small number of groups, such as the Pink Line Project and No Kings Collective, that promote emerging arts in Washington by making them accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to pay Kennedy Center prices for polished performances.
In some ways, Greenberg’s events are modern-day salons, but without the elitist trappings. But what began as a casual interest in holding house concerts (initially, Greenberg invited artists to perform in an apartment he had on U Street) has taken on a life of its own, as Greenberg has eliminated the barriers to entry that new artists and innovators often face in trying to showcase their work.
When Greenberg moved into his current home, a loft-style apartment, he chose it with aspirations to do more. More concerts, more yoga classes (his then-girlfriend taught yoga). And then more poetry courses, comedy performances, fashion shoots and even a vintage flea market.
It became such a mission for Greenberg that, in September, the day before he turned 35, he quit a lucrative marketing job at NPR and transformed his home into a makeshift cultural center, where he says he has hosted more than two dozen events, of varying degrees of expertise, that about 3,000 people have attended.
“I didn’t really want to leave my job. I almost had to,” Greenberg said. “I felt such a pull into this space that I created, but very much formed around me, in my living room.”
Word is out, even though Greenberg has no Web site or public calendar to advertise his space. He is constantly being approached with ideas about new ways to use it. One woman even inquired about using his apartment for her wedding reception, although that was ruled out after she saw it.
According to Amy Saidman, artistic director of the storytelling group SpeakeasyDC, Greenberg has found a sweet spot between entertainment and socializing.
“The shows are a mix of taking what you love about going to a show and what you love about being at a party, and putting them together,” Saidman said.