What were your major obstacles?
The CSA project puts an end to the notion that the general public cannot afford unique and beautiful art. Often times people would ask if the baskets were “loaned,” not realizing they would “own” these stunning pieces. We also found that New Englanders are skeptical about what they would get in their farm box. There is an element of mystery to the CSA project since the buyer does not know what they will receive until the pick-up date. However, the quality of the art in the farm box charmed buyers who might receive a limited edition of screen-prints, a series of small tea cups, a run of photographs, a pairing of glass objects, or small original paintings. Another major obstacle is that each artist creates the work for a small stipend that barely covers the cost for the materials; however, many of the artists have remarked that because they must create something small with limited funds they are working more creatively and experimentally.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1) Make sure you have enough lead time to build up the excitement surrounding the project. Nonprofits should expect to market the program for six months before selling shares. Build the excitement by choosing artists in a juried competition, promoting the artists during the creative “growing” season, and advertise the program extensively.
2) Remind buyers that the art they receive is really a token of their support of local artists and that despite the low cost of the CSA, they will be surprised with the results.
3) Nonprofits will get more marketing “bang” if the artists proposals are juried by local celebrities with good taste. At Sharon Arts we asked Virginia Prescott, the host of New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth and Vinx, a jazz musician who performed with Sting and Herbie Hancock, a curator from the Portsmouth Museum of Fine Arts as well as many others to jury the artists’ proposals. The participation of well-known artists from other creative fields generated media interest.