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Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 9:02 a.m.

Creative types needed for new type of CSA: Community Supported Art

By Jennifer Eberbach

ArtServe Michigan’s new "Community Supported Art" program takes a lesson from a big trend in local farming.

As with community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, ‘shareholders’ will purchase an equal portion of a ‘yield.’ But in this case, the share is not vegetables, milk, or meat. Instead, participants will get farm crates that could contain a mixture of art, poetry, music, tickets to a performance, and other creative products.

The statewide arts organization is looking for artists and other creative professionals to participate in the program from Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland Counties. Apply by Feb. 3 to be considered for this juried project. Nine artists will be selected by jury to make 50 items each and given a stipend of $1,000 to cover their expenses.

Shares will be available for purchase March 5 for $350, which buys 3 monthly farm boxes of art April through June. Shareholders will receive items from all 9 participants, but what those items are will remain a surprise up until the last minute.

Just like CSA farms, ArtServe is hosting monthly “pick-up” events at TBD locations in the participating greater Metro Detroit communities.

“These events aren’t just about picking up your art,” says Dorrie Milan, ArtServe Creative Industries Associate. “There will be other things going on, like the chance to meet and greet with the participating artists and eat local food,” sort of like an opening reception for a gallery exhibition, she explains.

“The idea behind it is to make people, even those who don’t usually collect art, realize how much creative talent is right there in their own backyard. We hope the program will raise awareness of what is going on in our local creative communities and encourage people to support it,” Milan says. “The purpose of ArtServe’s Creative Industries Program,” which is running the project, “is to open up opportunities for artists to have more successful businesses. The CSA program has the potential to open them up to new patrons.”

This CSA program is modeled after another that was established in Minneapolis/St. Paul by Springboard for the Arts and, which is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “They’ve had a lot of success, so it sounded like an interesting idea to continue in the Detroit area,” Milan says.

As the new program launches in southeast Michigan, ArtServe already has plans to expand it to more Michigan communities in the near future. They are looking to places like the Grand Rapids, Lansing, Marquette, and Traverse City areas to do additional CSA programs later this year and in 2013.

“There are so many other Michigan communities that have strong art scenes. As a statewide organization, we want to make this more of a statewide program,” Milan says.


Michael K.

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

Wow, this sounds like a great idea! It would be nice to be able to participate at a much lower price point. Even 1 piece would be a nice "token" for the support. Perhaps they could sell partial "shares" and allow people to be matched through the organization? There is no way I could justify $350 (I am not working, like so many others), but I could and would like to contribute, say, $50. Good luck! It is a tough road for artists in this economy. I used to have a photography studio until the recession.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

The letters CSA should only refer to Community Supported Agriculture in my opinion. That to me is a much more worthy use of the term. I majored in Art, but good, healthy food is a more important goal.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Neat idea. I tried to figure the numbers, but they aren't clear to me. Is there surplus money? Where does it go? I assume these are non-profit orgs.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

I mean it's a good idea, but $20 per piece is a frankly insulting rate.