Buying locally grown food from farmers has become popular through Community Supported Agriculture, where members buy a share of farm-grown produce and receive a box of seasonal items throughout the farming season. Thanks to a post on smArts & Culture, I learned that the brilliant people behind mnartists.org and Springboard for the Arts have adapted the CSA model to create Community Supported Art. This allows community members to purchase an art share, and in turn receive a box of art created by local artists, such as a collection of photos, tickets to an upcoming performance, or small paintings. The best part: participants don’t know in advance what will be in the box of art. They may or may not like what they get (just like with a farm share, where sometimes you end up with produce that you’re not a fan of), but buying an art share demonstrates a commitment to the artists and their creative process.
Community Supported Art is such a smart idea that I wonder why it hasn’t caught on yet here in New York City. Wouldn’t it be great if a bunch of dance companies, artists, and performance venues joined forces to create a CSA? Tickets to upcoming shows, dance classes, artist conversations, and behind-the-scenes rehearsals from a variety of participating arts organizations and artists could be added to a monthly CSA box for a reasonable price, while buyers would include not only existing supporters of the participating arts organizations and artists but also first-time arts attendees (it’s probably less intimidating to have a box of arts handed to you than to navigate NYC’s myriad offerings on your own and settle on one). Additionally, the CSA would be an effective way to pool audiences from a variety of arts organizations by exposing them to new work and new artists, and hopefully increasing their commitment to the participating artists and organizations.
Community Supported Art definitely has the potential to thrive in NYC (all of the shares in Minnesota sold out within a few hours), and hopefully it will one day be as popular and common as community supported agriculture. To all NYC-based artists and arts organizations, we should join forces and make this a reality.