The money-making model artists are learning from local farmers

The U.S. art world is turning to a model popular with farmers to help spur interest in local art.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Over the years, the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model has grown in popularity throughout the United States. The model generally works like this: urbanites pay a one-time fee to get a box of produce delivered once a week throughout the growing season. This benefits farmers because they get paid before the first tomato flowers bloom. In return, buyers get a full box of fresh produce -- often standard, popular items mixed with more unusual items to expand the palate of the buyer -- and the satisfaction that they're supporting the local economy.

Now that model, with the same CSA acronym, is catching on in the U.S. art world, The New York Times reports, with community-supported art popping in big cities like Miami and New York and in smaller cities like Lincoln, Neb. and Fargo, N.D. Here's how it works:

The goal, borrowed from the world of small farms, is a deeper-than-commerce connection between people who make things and people who buy them. The art programs are designed to be self-supporting: Money from shares is used to pay the artists, who are usually chosen by a jury, to produce a small work in an edition of 50 or however many shares have been sold. The shareholders are often taking a leap of faith. They don’t know in advance what the artists will make and find out only at the pickup events, which are as much about getting to know the artists as collecting the fruits of their shares.

Last quarter, the global fine art market topped $7 billion, so this is just a small segment of that and, as the Times describes, an "alternative to the dominance of the commercial gallery system." But, of course, it's impact could be significant in exposing more people to a wider range of artists and finding an innovative way to get people excited about buying art.

Read more: New York Times

Photo: CSA PGH

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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