A Bushelful of Art

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Mark LaFavor / www.lafavor.com

More and more people are signing up for deliveries of fresh, local produce by buying shares in community-supported agriculture, or CSA, farms. A new brand of CSA is offering a different type of sustenance: fresh, local art. Christy DeSmith writes in American Craft (Oct.-Nov. 2011) about the community-supported art program pioneered in 2010 by two Minnesota organizations, Springboard for the Arts and mnartists.org. Shareholders pay $300 each to receive three deliveries of artworks through the spring and summer, with each delivery containing three works. Artists, chosen by a jury, get a stipend of $1,000 each to create 50 works.

The model has since been reproduced in Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at least three other cities plan to roll out art CSAs in 2012: Akron, Ohio; San Jose, California; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Of course, the fervent hope, as in a CSA farm, is that the members appreciate what the producers are producing, but tastes naturally vary. Some folks crave heritage tomatoes; others salivate over kale.

Betsy McDermott Altheimer, associate director of Springboard for the Arts, tells American Craft: “Nobody knows what they’ll get, though we hope everybody gets something they love.”

Have something to say? Send a letter to editor@utne.com. This article first appeared in the January-February 2012 issue of Utne Reader.

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