The Cambridge Arts Council is giving a new meaning to “CSA” this fall with Community Supported Art (CSArt), a program that functions like a farm share but delivers artwork instead of produce.
CSArt has been run by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education for the past two years, but since it was unable to continue this year the arts council adopted the program, which lets full-fledged or aspiring art collectors buy a small, medium or large share. The small share includes three pieces of artwork, the medium six and the large nine, with each work costing $50. The artists will each create a “crop” of 50 pieces, which shareholders will receive in November.
This year’s nine CSArt artists work in numerous mediums, making a surprise grab bag for collectors. Shareholders could receive anything from a 3-D piece to wall art to a poster that they get to color in.
All of the artists are local—meaning that they live, work or have studio space in Cambridge—and were selected from the pool of Cambridge Open Studios artists by a committee that included people from the arts council, the community and people who participated in the program in previous years.
The CSArt program, with its subsidized artwork and three payment tiers, serves as a gateway into the collecting world.
“[This] is an opportunity to foster collecting in our community,” Director of the Community Arts Program Julie Barry explains, “to bring back this idea that you can own an original piece of artwork, you can afford it. It is something that is accessible to you, available to you and affordable.”
CSArt is designed to give artists exposure and help them develop the skills to promote their work successfully. Since the spring, the selected artists have been attending professional development training that includes social media, finance and marketing education.
In addition to the training, the artists will receive a stipend for their work. The majority of the share price will go toward the artists, with the rest helping to fund the program, according to arts council spokeswoman Molly Akin.
The $2,000 stipend isn’t necessarily as much as artists would receive for their studio work, but that’s part of the plan.
“Part of the goal of the program is to help the artists develop a strategy that isn’t quite as precious or high-priced as their studio art might be, to help them develop that second revenue stream,” Akin said. “Something unique and valuable, but not necessarily trying to create 50 original oil paintings.”
Landscape painter Deidre Tao, who lives and works in Cambridge, has found the professional development training helpful, especially the social media training. She views the program as a chance to branch out, she says.
“One of the things I’d love to get out of the program is to feel more connected with some of the artists in my community, and that’s already begun,” Tao said. “Another thing is to have my work reach new collectors. To have my work in potentially 50 new collectors’ homes, that’s really exciting to me.”
CSArt is part of the arts council’s Creative Marketplace. Running on a multi-year grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the program aims to support the arts and the local economy. In addition to CSArt, Creative Marketplace includes two initiatives designed to engage local corporations with local art.