And no, I’m not talking farm-fresh produce here. I’m talking about Community Supported Art.
This initiative first came to my attention via the Rivard Report and its coverage of the latest round of Awesome SA nominees in July 2013. I had to know more. I had to reach out and discover more about Kelly Schaub and her vision for the arts. It was as easy as sending an email. We soon had an invitation to come and visit her office at Geekdom – interesting. Now, I had never met someone with an office at Geekdom. Our meeting began with a tour of the facilities that Page covered in an earlier post. I gotta say, what a cool concept! Way to go Graham Weston! But I digress…
Kelly is a relatively recent transplant to San Antonio from Minneapolis. She had fallen in love with this city in the course of many visits over the years, and decided to make this home. Her background is deep in arts administration, and, of course, it seems to me that would make San Antonio a natural choice. She has established an organization called Arts Mall Productions. The purpose is to draw business-savvy artists and collectors together into a community that works in concert to elevate the arts. “When the needs of artists are addressed, the community also benefits, and in many cases can thrive. Art is unique. Artists make a community unique. Arts Mall strives to explore various models that work in other industries, in an effort to create valuable intersections between art and community.” CSA is one of those projects.
The concept of CSA has jumped from the farm to the arts across the country — Minneapolis/St.Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Brooklyn, Lincoln, Fargo, and now, San Antonio…and beyond. Schaub is specifically modeling her vision on the Minnesota version mounted by Springboard for the Arts and mnartists.org, a successful CSA in action since 2010. The concept even made the New York Times recently.
The single greatest takeaway that I have from our meeting is Kelly’s passion for her subject. Not at all “over the top,” and perhaps even a bit shy, Kelly has an animated spark and enthusiasm when discussing the possibilities that her vision can create. Many years in the trenches as an arts administrator has led her to the belief that the traditional approaches don’t always make the most sense. She has experienced the ups and downs of working with top-heavy boards that may not always recognize the direct needs of working artists, despite their best intentions. It is time to think outside the box, and the concept for CSA can accomplish that goal.
I get the sense that Kelly is a terrific bridge builder, and her desire to reach out and work with other arts organizations in the city is demonstrated by her creation of SA SMARTS, a monthly gathering designed to have artists and arts organizations share their successes and challenges — a “high tide raises all boats” philosophy that can work. Or, here’s another one — .org DOT awesome — a 24-hour cooperative website-building challenge. Yep, 24 hours – STRAIGHT. We just have to show up to share!
So, CSA San Antonio is in search of the first nine artists to create works for the “shares” that will “feed the public’s cultural appetite.” We are right on top of the deadline, so here’s the skinny:
“Nine local artists will be commissioned to produce one limited edition work in a quantity of 50. Artists will receive a stipend to cover the cost of materials, production, and labor. Examples of CSA work might include photographs, small paintings or cast sculpture. These artworks will include one work from each of the artists, and only 50 shares will be available to our shareholders.”
Now, there will be a kick-off party for CSA on Monday, August 26th, at Geekdom. I urge everyone who is even a little curious about this program to come out and learn more. Artists and potential shareholders. Shares are $350 and limited to 50 opportunities to support, grow, and strengthen our San Antonio arts community. I’m definitely intrigued, and we will be there! Find out how to attend the party here.
Really looking forward to seeing how this project advances… stay tuned!