Mark Allen is founder and executive director of Machine Project, a neighborhood arts collaborative in Los Angeles that grew out of a desire to create an informal community space where people could gather around different kinds of ideas, from poetry and experimental music to technology and food. Allen collaborates with artists across disciplines to develop events, workshops, performances, and site-specific installations that blur the boundaries between art and its exhibition spaces and feature hands-on engagement and participation for audiences. In its Echo Park storefront space, Machine Project hosts an eclectic mix of free public events such as scientific talks, poetry readings, musical performances, competitions, group naps, cheese tastings and so on. It offers weekly classes on everything from sewing and pickling to electronics and computer programming. In addition, Machine Project is the home base for a self-described "loose confederacy" of artists who produce shows at locations ranging from the Santa Monica beach to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In August 2010, Allen participated in a curatorial roundtable at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, along with Adam Lerner of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, to discuss methods of audience engagement.