BLOG*December 7, 2011

Art by Roxana Villa

I am huge fan of out of the box solutions for selling art and promoting it. One of my suggestions is to start an Art Block Party. Gather all your neighbors who have some talent to share (artists, musicians, chefs, etc.), go to the city to get a permit to close down your street to traffic, then send out flyers promoting your amazing outdoor event to showcase the talent of the community. Now you have an outdoor gallery!

Betsy McDermott Altheimer, associate director for an artist service organization called Springboard for the Arts, located in the Twin Cities had another great idea for selling art. She was inspired by community-supported agriculture (CSA), where consumers receive a monthly lot of produce through purchasing shares in a farm. She thought if it works for farmers it could work for artists. “We should just do a CSA!” she exclaimed in an interview with American Craft Magazine. “Only this time, the ‘a’ would stand for ‘art.’”

Altheimer believes that food systems are the perfect metaphor in the reality of today’s art scene. “People have this mythical notion of what a farmer does. In reality, there is a lot of risk. You can’t guarantee every crop will be successful,” says Altheimer. “Likewise, an artist can’t guarantee that everything he does will be great. But he can ask people to invest in the value of what he does.” Each season, nine artists participate. By signing up for a $300 share, a patron receives nine original works, plus admittance to three parties where the artists will be in attendance. Of course where the program seems a little less than ideal is the artist’s commission — for producing 50 pieces, he or she will only receive $1,000. But it’s up to the artist to create small, sensible works with a budgetary restriction in mind. The hope is that the artists will pick up new fans and patrons who will continue to follow and collect their work beyond the CSA share. “Our version of success is when the relationship continues beyond us,” affirms Altheimer.

Check out her interview and then start your own CSA. If you have other ideas let me know and I will share them in a post.