Appleton Post-Crescent: CSA Program Distributes Art, Not Veggies

ARTiculture-CSA-Appleton

ARTiculture coordinators, Fanny Lau and Kate Mothes sell shares for the CSA at Appleton’s Art on the Town. Photo by ARTiculture.

This story was originally published by the Appleton Post-Crescent, and has been republished here for your reading convenience.

CSA boxes just got a whole new meaning and a lot less kale.

Community Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs, provide buyers with a box of produce each week from local farmers. The programs ensure that producers sell all their products, while strengthening relationships between farmers and consumers and putting an emphasis on buying direct and local.

In recent months, a new type of CSA has been developing. By using the same model and replacing tomatoes with paintings, Community Supported Art programs allow people to blindly purchase a share of local, curated artwork, just as they would a box of fresh produce.

Community member Fanny Lau, along with seven other coordinators, started ARTiculture, Appleton’s Community Supported Art program, that features eight local artists.

“I was really drawn to the idea of connecting local artists to community members and letting community members be involved to see that process all the way through. We get a sense of the process and how long it takes,” Lau said.

Through community votes, eight artists were chosen to produce either full shares of 50 pieces or half shares of 25 pieces of paintings, prints and ceramics, among other mediums. The 50 available shares are $300 each and include six pieces to be picked up at a fall shareholder event.

Lau said Springboard for the Arts, a Minnesota-based arts organization, helped launch ARTiculture. The organization pioneered the Community Supported Art model in 2010 and has helped establish more than 50 programs around the country.

Carl Swanson, director of movement building for Springboard for the Arts, said he has seen communities across the nation bolster their local art scenes by establishing CSA programs, which have popped up in major cities like Atlanta, Seattle and Philadelphia. Appleton is one of the first Wisconsin communities to create a program.

“It enables the community to tell their story, and it gives people a way to connect to local art,” Swanson said. “Having a program like this helps bring people together. You find not only artists, but like-minded people.”

Concerns about the program focus on whether artists are properly reimbursed for their work, said Kate Mothes, local artist and ARTiculture coordinator. Artists involved in ARTiculture earn a $1,000 stipend.

“It’s support for your time. Part of what makes this project is not only monetary support but exposure,” Mothes said. “I think it depends on whether artists want to break that down per piece of work.”

Mothes said the program’s importance goes beyond the financial and is part of a larger creative initiative to build a local art scene that she said is already growing.

“People may have moved away to study, but they’re back here now. Even though there isn’t a huge outlet for non-functional art, rather than leaving, people are like, ‘I’m going to try to do it here,’” Mothes said. “They’re building it up. I think trying to get something started here has been pretty powerful so far.”

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