Today’s a big day around here: tonight’s Community Supported Art (CSA) pick-up party at the Black Dog Café in St. Paul, the kick-off for the spring 2011 CSA season, will also serve as a birthday celebration-cum-reunion party. This grassroots arts patronage program, which mnartists.org has undertaken in collaboration with Springboard for the Arts and a bevy of generous artists, is marking its one-year anniversary this summer.
A fair amount of ink has been spilled in the last year about our new community-rooted “art shares” project, and we’re thankful for every bit of it. If you’re interested, I’ve pulled together a linky round-up of articles below, from both local and national press outlets and blogs, featuring our CSA program and artists. Scroll to the base of the post to read through the enthusiastic press coverage for this first year of community supported art.
So much attention has been paid to the model we’ve used, and indeed a number of like-minded arts organizations around the country have already replicated it in their own communities. There’s no mystery to the program’s appeal. It’s a simple, but hugely effective direct-to-consumer paradigm, cribbed directly from an already established food production model developed by the increasingly influential community supported agriculture movement.
From what we’ve witnessed in the last year, the public is as eager to support their local cultural producers as they are their neighborhood farmer’s markets and regional growers.
Translating that model of production to the arts is surprisingly easy: Assemble a carefully curated group of artists and give them a modest stipend, which they in turn use to make a limited run of original items for a small group of member “shares.” Our CSA members, like those buying into a farm for a share of the season’s crops, pay a flat fee (around $300); in return, members receive three crates brimming with original art throughout the season, just as members of an agricultural CSA get a regular supply of farm boxes filled with fresh produce.
Because the cost of a share is affordable at just about any income level, it’s a fabulous opportunity for art lovers of all stripes to have access to the thrill of collecting work made by an array of accomplished artists whose pieces might otherwise be out of reach. Is it any wonder our first year’s CSA shares sold like gangbusters, in a matter of just a few hours each time we opened them up for sale? For anyone who loves art, it’s a great deal by any measure.
The thing is, a program like this simply wouldn’t work without the artists; it’s the fruits of the generosity and talent of the people who make the unusual, intriguing, clever, and deftly executed art work which fill those crates. Credit for the runaway success of this program belongs entirely with the artists whose amazing work consistently delighted our CSA shareholders, and kept new crops of patrons chomping at the bit for more.
So, here’s to the phenomenal CSA artists whose work made such a splash! We owe them a debt of gratitude for their ingenuity, boundless creativity, and the hours upon hours of work they put into making each contribution to these art shares something extraordinary. Their efforts consistently exceeded our grandest expectations, not to mention the modest compensation provided to them.
We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the artists who contributed work in the CSA program in the last year. The following folks have left awfully big shoes for future seasons’ artists to fill:
Amber Jensen, fashion designer and fiber artist
Amy Rice, visual artist and printmaker
Andy Ducett, visual artist
Calpurnia Peach, fashion designers and fiber artists
Jennifer Davis, visual artist
Karl Unnasch, visual artist
Lacey Prpic Hedtke, book artist
Maren Kloppmann, ceramicist
Sam Hoolihan, visual artist
Artists of fall 2010 CSA season –
Richard Barlow, visual artist
Jim Proctor, sculptor
Kimberly Richardson & Sara Richardson, performing artists
Aaron Dysart, sculptor
Ellie Kingsbury, photographer
Finally, our current crop of artists for the spring 2011 CSA season –
Liz Miller, visual artist
Drew Peterson, printmaker
Scott McGlasson, furniture maker and woodworker
Danielle Everine, fashion designer
Nou Ka Yang, fiber artist and fashion designer
Areca Roe, photographer
Peter Jadoonath, ceramicist
Dana M. Johnson, visual artist
Luke Aleckson, visual artist
Related links and press clips:
“Local Artists Create Farm Share for the Arts” – Minnesota Public Radio (April 2010)
“Community Supported Art Harvests Creativity” – PBS Art Beat
“New CSA will feature a crop of locally-produced art” – MinnPost (April 2010)
“Subscription Art Spreads: Minnesota’s ‘Community Supported Art’” – The Present Group Journal
“If the Bay Area is the Capital of Art Subscriptions, then the Mid-West is the Country it Should be Located In” – The Present Group Journal
“Artists Try Farmer’s Tactic, Selling Community Shares” – The Boston Globe
“A ‘Buy-Local Mentality’ – Community Supported Art at threewalls” – Chicago Art Magazine
“Art by the Bushel” – Vita.mn (April 2011)
“Invest in a Bumper Crop of Art” – Minnesota Public Radio, State of the Arts blog (April 2011)
“Appetite for Art” by Betsy Altheimer – Rain Taxi Review of Books (Spring 2011)
“CSA: Homegrown Art, Bought by the Bushel” by Christy DeSmith – Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 2011
“Check it out – community supported art” by Sarah McKenzie – The Southwest Journal
“It’s Simple, Give Some Money, Get a Box Full of Art” by Amy Gustafson – Pioneer Press (link no longer available)
“These artists think inside the box, and they give art lovers a novel way to buy their works” – Pioneer Press, April 2011 (link no longer available)
The CSA program was also listed on several “best of ” lists for 2010, including: