We were certainly curious to hear about the Brooklyn CSA+D when it first launched last summer, based on the community-supported agriculture model in which producers provide goods to local buyers on a subscription basis. Founded by Dianne Debicella and Jill Allyn Peterson, the program is now accepting submissions for its second season. Here, they share some of their learnings and exactly how they're iterating on their inaugural offering.
Submission Deadline Extended for Second Season of Brooklyn Community Supported Art + Design. Accepting proposals from artists and designers through April 3rd, 2014.
As we begin the second season of Brooklyn CSA+D (Community Supported Art + Design), we take a look back on the inaugural season of Brooklyn's first CSA for art and design - an experiment in translating the model of Community Supported Agriculture to the realm of aesthetic and creative production.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2013, the launch of CSA+D was met with loads of enthusiasm from the press as well as the community of artists, designers and collectors here in Brooklyn, who welcomed the possibility of a new marketplace that fosters a direct connection between makers and collectors. We were thrilled to receive hundreds of applications to our very first open call last summer, which yielded a range of offerings for shareholders, including painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, poster art, wallpaper, installation and printmaking. The jury ranked the submissions and with those selections we then created balanced groups for half-shares and full-shares to ensure an even selection of unique pieces and editions, as well as 2D and 3D works.
Based on conversations with shareholders and survey results, it's clear they had various reasons for joining. Some were ready to start collecting art but didn't know how to start, while others felt that the mission of supporting emerging artists was an important enough reason on its own to become a shareholder. Some had new apartments to decorate while others wanted to join simply based on the element of surprise and delight. The idea that an expert panel would be selecting the work was reassuring for many shareholders, while others simply liked the artists' previous work and knew that joining would be a safe bet.
The selected artists and designers, on the other hand, were slightly more unified in their reasons for getting involved: Most of them were drawn to CSA+D by the prospect of connecting to the community directly and getting to meet the people who would own their work. While we received some feedback from potential applicants who thought the $3,000 commission for 50 works was too low, the participants expressed satisfaction with the commission, explaining that they worked backward from that number to make decisions about the material costs, size and time commitment to determine their own compensation. This model is certainly not for every artist or designer, especially those creating large-scale or time- and resource-intensive works. But, as we saw with the results of the first season, there is much desirable work being created at the scale where the commission makes sense to the artists and the quality of the work is pleasing to the shareholders.
Although there was much satisfaction on either side of the exchange, both our shareholder and artist surveys came back with great suggestions for improvement, many of which we plan to implement in the upcoming season. Some shareholders wished for more of a say in the selection process, and to that end, we are implementing a new format for 2014. The jury will narrow the pool of applicants, and then we will open up the voting process to shareholders and artists who joined CSA+D in 2013, as well as any new shareholders who sign up early for the 2014 season.
Additionally, we have expanded the jury from three to seven members this time, who bring a diverse array of backgrounds and specialties to the process. This includes curator Petrushka Bazin Larsen, artist and author Danny Simmons, Jr., playwright Lisa D'Amour, chair of SVA's Illustration as Visual Essay MFA program Marshall Arisman, writer Fiorella Valdesolo of Gather Journal, and artists Adam Frezza + Terri Chiao, whose work was featured in the 2013 Season of Brooklyn CSA+D.
Along with the expansion of the selection process, we'll also expand the timeline for artists to create the work. Most of the artists from 2013 found the timeframe workable, but were working right up til the deadline to get their series done. By lengthening the timeline of the season by a few months, the artists will have more time to create their series, as well as time to get to know one another during the process. Additionally, we plan to arrange for the selected artists and designers to receive a share from the 2014 season in addition to their commission, as well as organize more meet-and-greet events, which we hope furthers the cause of building a community among artists, designers and collectors in Brooklyn. We are also extending the application deadline from March 3rd until April 3rd, 2014.
Here on Core77, the announcement post from last year raised questions about whether the model is scalable and if a market intended for veggies really translates to art, and while the answers are still coming into focus, we have a little more insight based on the experience of the first season season. If the model were to scale up and remain true to its current form, with the highest amount of compensation going directly to the artists, it would likely need to expand organically, through networks of volunteers who find value in connecting creative communities, either by joining our effort or launching their own initiatives. Without a marketing department or a sales team, we rely on people who loved the experience to spread the word, and we plan to maintain the same size next season which will be limited to 100 six-piece shares.
While the perishability of vegetables—along with our stubborn need to regularly consume food—affects demand for agricultural CSAs differently, many of us do have a strong desire to beautify our surroundings, give and receive meaningful gifts, and feel a sense of connection to our community. The opportunity to discover, collect and support local artists and designers through this model creates a completely unique experience for shareholders and artists alike, and we look forward to seeing how our second season further meets this demand for original, locally produced, carefully crafted works of art and design.
Artists and designers can apply before April 3rd here. Sign up to be notified when shares go on sale for the 2014 season here, and purchase the newly-available single-piece shares from 2013 here.
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