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Piccolo Spoleto, Charleston Music Hall & Charleston Arts Festival Present:

PechaKucha 39

The Presenters Are: Katie Hirsch, KJ Kearney, Lydia Chernicoff, Vince Graham, Jacquie Berger, Ben Towill & Charlie Layton, Hanna Raskin, and Earl Newell

DOORS: 7:30PM / SHOW: 8:00PM

$12 Advance | $14 Day of Show



Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are not required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Attendees are also not required to wear a mask. Be sure to check your venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.


PechaKucha, Japanese for “chit chat,” is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total) keeping presentation concise, fast-paced, and powerful. Charleston Music Hall is proud to be the official venue and producer of PechaKucha Charleston. The Music Hall, with help from our collaborators Charleston Arts Festival and artist liaison Terry Fox, hopes to focus on developing a strong, interesting, and diverse presenter line up from an array of different artistic, creative, and entrepreneurial disciplines and encourage collaboration, communication, and support in Charleston’s creative community.

– Katie Hirsch, Director and Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
– KJ Kearney, founder of Black Food Fridays
– Lydia Chernicoff, violinist and founder of New Muse Concerts
– Vince Graham, builder and civic artist
– Jacquie Berger, Executive Director, Lowcountry Local First
– Ben Towill and Charlie Layton, The Dreamboats Project and Basic Kitchen
– Hanna Raskin, Food journalist
– Earl Newell, DJ and entertainment facilitator via The Dance Doctors

Hanna Raskin:

Hanna Raskin is the editor and publisher of The Food Section, a newsletter covering food and drink in the American South. She previously served as food editor and chief critic for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. Her work has been recognized multiple times by The James Beard Foundation, which in 2017 awarded her its first Local Impact Journalism prize. A past president of the Association of Food Journalists, Raskin serves as the Southern Foodways Alliance’s columnist.






Jacquie Berger:

Jacquie Berger is a veteran of nonprofit leadership, having served as Executive Director three times starting at the tender age of 22. Passionately dedicated to making the world a better place and believing that human connection lies at the root of that work, Jacquie has found her place at the helm of Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Lowcountry a great place to live by supporting the local, independent businesses that shape our economy, community, and culture.

Her life’s journey brought her from New England to Charleston by way of New York City. All along the way she has had the opportunity to build skills in nonprofit management, program development, fundraising, planning, and supporting inclusive practices. The people of the community she serves have and always will be her most valued teachers and mentors, but along the way she also received her MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA from Barnard College.

Now in her 8th year as a newcomer to the Lowcountry, Jacquie lives on James Island with her two children, sometimes her parents, Zelda the cat, and a very sweet leopard gecko named Spot.

Lydia Chernicoff:

Lydia Chernicoff, violinist, is the founder and Artistic Director of New Muse Concerts, a concert series that brings people and ideas together through music, with daring programming and vibrant performances that inspire us to hear music — and see the world — in new ways. New Muse collaborates creatively across the arts in Charleston, partnering with other cultural and educational organizations to reach a broad audience. New Muse celebrates the composer, the composition, the musician, and the listener — and their spirited collaboration in music.

Lydia has performed as a recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral player, throughout the US and in Europe, China, and South America. In 2007, Lydia founded Trio Appassionata alongside cellist, Andrea Casarrubios, and pianist, Ronaldo Rolim. The trio released its debut CD of American piano trios, gone into night are all the eyes, in 2014. The recording was praised by the International Record Review for its “complete dedication and assurance… [and for] music-making as impressive and dangerous as a granite cliff.”

She received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland.

Lydia also performs locally with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music Charleston. She lives on James Island with her husband, Jaan, and their rescue pup Mr. Bennett.

DJ Earl Newell:

Earl currently books over 200+ events a year with his expanding team of associate DJs and Staff. Small personal events to major local festivals. Most of the client base spans the East Coast from New York to Florida. He and his team’s accomplishments include over 700 weddings and over 2000 events since 2013

Earl is the Chairman of The International DJ Cafe – Charleston Chapter for the last 3 years. An organization that monthly pools local DJ, Producer and Artists together in the Charleston area. These monthly gatherings are for mentorship, educating, teaching and showcasing SC talents.

Earl’s biggest passion is growing others and pushing them to reach beyond their comprehension. He lives in Summerville, SC with his wife Debbie Newell and their two daughters Danielle (CSU Graduate) & Jasmine (Cane Bay High Schooler). When he’s not working he enjoys watching Food Network and Cooking.

Katie Hirsch:

Katie Hirsch is the Director and Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts. At the Halsey Institute, Katie has recently curated exhibitions by Coulter Fussell, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Dyani White Hawk, and Kukuli Velarde. Prior to moving to Charleston, she lived in Shanghai, China, where she worked as Senior Curator at island6 Arts Center in the city’s famed M50 Art District. Katie received her M.A. in Art History from the Florida State University, where her research focused on the visual cultures of Mesoamerica.



Ben Towill & Charles Layton:

As a chef and restauranteur, Ben has always been fascinated by food, where it comes from and how it affects us – the foundation of his restaurants depends on the relationships developed with farmers and fisherman of the area. In 2014 set off on a cross-country bike tour to get in touch with US food systems, the role and importance of restaurants and to engage with growers across the states. Upon finishing the tour, he left New York with his wife Kate, moved down to Charleston and went on to build Basic Projects, Basic Kitchen and Post House.

Having always admired people who break outside their comfort zone to accomplish a goal, Ben has held to a longstanding goal of rowing the Atlantic. Witnessing his friend, Bobby Melville’s (Founder of IGO Adventures) journey across the Atlantic and experiencing firsthand the fact that setting big goals and surmounting obstacles, can change the course of one’s life quite positively — Ben is now making his 10 year dream a reality and getting down to work.


Charlie has long been interested in food-based education and the importance of healthy eating but it wasn’t until arriving to work at Basic Kitchen that his passion was truly realized. Without a car for transport, Charlie borrowed the “company car”- Peggy – the bike that took Ben across the United States. He began cycling 100 miles per week, exercising for the first time in 12 years, and transforming his diet as he worked to develop the menu and identity of Basic Kitchen.

Leading the helm at Basic Kitchen, Charlie has intertwined his love of veggies with creating playful-quality dishes that excite customers about eating better, from cauliflower wings to corn-ribs. With approachable dishes that highlight local ingredients, Charlie’s warmth and personality shines through his cooking and invite a broader audience to enjoy healthy eating.

Over the course of three years, Charlie has whipped into the best shape he’s ever been with a longstanding goal on the horizon. Back in 2018, Charlie’s friend, Andy Grant, a chef as well, completed the challenge with the Atlantic Seamen, and planted the seed for Charlie to set his determination towards. Working closely with Ben, Charlie spoke of his goal of rowing the Atlantic and it just so happened shared the same dream. And the dreamboats were born!

KJ Kearney:

KJ Kearney is the founder of Black Food Fridays, an advocacy initiative which encourages everyone to purchase food and drinks from Black owned restaurants each and every Friday. Since starting in April of 2020, Black Food Fridays has organically grown from to over 69K followers on Instagram and over 145K followers on TikTok.

Through this initiative, he has been able to work with organizations like Pepsi, the Charleston Visitors Bureau, the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, and the Black Amazon Employee Network and has been featured or quoted by publications like the Washington Post, New York Food Policy Center, Condé Nast Traveller, Bet.com, the BBC, Viceland, MTV News, Insider, Mic.com, and Today.com. He was also a featured guest on the hit Food Network show “Delicious Miss Brown” where he discussed both the Black Food Fridays platform and Gullah Geechee cuisine.

A community organizer for the Charleston Promise Neighborhood non-profit organization, KJ works to create commonality between disparate groups by highlighting the many ways we are in common while also not being afraid to discuss the unique ways we differ. He’s combined these skills with additional training through the Racial Equity Institute, Innovate School’s Parent Leadership Institute, and the Charleston Chamber’s Civic Leaders Academy to create consensus within the community, both in real life and online. KJ has an innate ability to breakdown complex issues in a way that is both understandable and entertaining to a variety of people.
KJ has been a featured speaker, moderator, host, or panelist for many organizations including Creative Mornings Charleston, SURJ (Standing Up For Racial Justice), SXSW (South by SouthWest), the Columbia Museum of Art, and the Charleston Chamber of Commerce.

KJ has also produced events for both the City of Charleston and the City of North Charleston, was a guest columnist for the Charleston City Paper, and wrote the proclamation for Red Rice Day, which received a formal resolution from the Honorable John Tecklenburg of Charleston in 2018. KJ is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha–the first Greek letter fraternity for African Americans, a proud graduate of this historically Black college South Carolina State University, a brother, son, uncle of the year candidate, reformed sneakerhead, and trap music apologist.

Vince Graham:

Vince Graham is an inquisitive contrarian who suspects that if the majority agrees with him, he might be wrong. So if y’all applaud at the end of this presentation, it’ll likely make him pause and reflect.

Using history as his guide, this aspiring civic artist has become an apostle for human-scaled urbanism. That is, for building neighborhoods, towns, and cities that enable one to work, rest, play and pray – essentially all every day tasks – within a relatively short, comfortable and beautiful walk.

Vince’s place-making career spans more than 30 years in towns and cities across the southeast, including I’On, Morris Square, Mixson, Earl’s Court and Catfiddle Street in the Charleston area. A Georgia native, Vince arrived in the Lowcountry two months before Hurricane Hugo. He lives in a renovated home a few blocks from here.



Kyle Barnette & Brian James Porter - Co-Emcees:

Kyle Barnette, along with partner Brian Porter, has been a familiar and respected presence in the Charleston arts community for nearly 15 years. He is the recently appointed Artistic Director of Footlight Players in Residence at the Queen Street Playhouse and co-founder of What If? Productions, a Charleston-based professional non-profit theatre company which he co-founded in 2010 alongside Brian Porter. A native of Spartanburg, SC and graduate of Ole Miss, Kyle has worked as an actor and director in a variety of theatres across the country including Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN as a member of their Resident Acting Company.

Through his artistic partnerships at Charleston Stage Co., Kyle has directed Steel Magnolias, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Foreigner and appeared in numerous productions including The 39 Steps, Shear Madness, Young Frankenstein, 9 to 5: The Musical and The Underpants. Through his work at What If?, Kyle has helped foster the work of emerging playwrights throughout the country with the theatre’s annual Playwrights Festival, launching the world premiere of many new works including The Practice Child and The Cannibals as well partnering with Chicago’s The New Colony theatre company on the East Coast premiere of the award-winning Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche, along with other new plays in their repertoire. Other notable What If? shows he has directed include Amadeus, Kate & Sam Are Not Breaking Up, Feathers & Teeth, Cabaret and Evil Dead: The Musical.

Kyle served as the Executive Director of the Charleston Horticultural Society from 2012 – 2022, leaving the organization this past January to dedicate himself full time to the arts in Charleston. In 2018 Kyle began working with the newly revamped Footlight Players contributing artistically both as a director and as an actor directed a variety of productions including Lady Day At Emersons Bar & Grill, Head Over Heels, Ruthless! The Musical, Doubt and most recently The Legend of Georgia McBride and was officially named Artistic Director this past February. He and Brian can also been seen featured in the May 2022 issue of Charleston Magazine.


Brian James Porter has been the Executive Director of Footlight Players in residence at the Queen Street Playhouse since 2018. Brian hails from the great midwestern state of Indiana and has participated in the performing arts for practically all his life starting at age 5 when he played a frog in his church play. He also comes from a long line of musicians. His grandfather was the long time choral director for the Westminster Choir and sang tenor for the NBC Opera Company and his mother has a long history as an opera singer and actress still to this day. Brian graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Theatre in Performance where upon graduation he spent a year and a half as member of Playhouse on the Square’s Resident Acting Company in Memphis, Tennessee.

Brian relocated to Atlanta where he pursued a career in media advertising while continuing to be active in local theatre including a stint as the interim Executive Director of OnStage Atlanta. After several years in Atlanta, Brian relocated to beautiful Charleston where he was the Media Director of Davis Advertising leading to Brian’s eventual return to his theatrical roots by becoming the Technical Director at Charleston Stage. He quickly shifted over to the administrative side where he served as the Executive Assistant to Founder Julian Wiles and eventually became the Director of Administration overseeing the daily operations of the company.

Brian is also the co-founder of the local theatre company What If? Productions along with his partner Kyle. A celebrated artist and vocalist in Charleston (and past winner of Best Actor for the Charleston City Paper awards), Brian has appeared on stage in many memorable roles in Charleston including Peter & the Starcatcher, Cabaret, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, The 39 Steps, Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, Shear Madness and Hairspray. He recently headlined his own sold out cabaret show An Evening With Brian Porter as part of What If?’s popular Piano Bar Series.

Brian is currently the Executive Director of Footlight Players, which just ended its 90th season in residence at the Queen Street Playhouse, in historic downtown Charleston. Brian has proudly spent the last four years engaging and promoting the local arts in Charleston.

Professor Ping - DJ:

Professor Ping, aka DJ Josh Silverman, has been the house DJ for PechaKucha since the early days.  His style blends old school, breakbeat, rare groove, and electronic tracks in a continuous mix that will blow your headphones.  He produces a weekly radio show, Class with Professor Ping, that broadcasts nationally on the Fleet Radio Network and is the Music Director of LA based Lo Fly Radio.  For more information and to listen in, visit www.professorping.com.

Venue Information
Charleston Music Hall
37 John Street
Charleston, South Carolina, 29403