You know CSAs. They’re the programs that set up shop in parks and school parking lots in your neighborhood, letting farmers sell shares of their crops to members—like an exclusive farmers’ market. The “A” in CSA usually stands for agriculture, but dozens of towns across America have tweaked the acronym for another worthy local cause: Community Supported Art. Art CSAs work just like traditional ones—except instead of picking up kale or radishes every Saturday, shareholders get locally made paintings and sculptures.
The idea appears to have taken root in Minneapolis, when the Walker Art Center hosted a Community Supported Art program on its grounds in 2010. Now, the co-organizers of that event, Springboard for the Arts and mnartists.org, are urging other cities to follow suit. And other cities are doing just that.
At Brooklyn’s Community Supported Art + Design, which is offering shares through October 15 (or while they last), $500 buys you six artworks; $250 buys you three. If you buy a share you won’t know what piece you’ll get ahead of time, but the organization has the 12 jury-selected artists on its website and has images of all their work that’s part of the CSA. This fall, shares could include anything from Jason Kachadourian’s wood and building–block wall sculptures to Florence Gidez’s finely textured architectural screen-prints to Satoshi Okada’s oil portraits. Artists will personally reveal the surprises to members at a pickup event later in the season.
Elsewhere, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education has a similar program under way that offers nine works by Massachusetts artists for $300, including ceramics by Maeve Mueller, origami by Sok Song and hand-painted plates by Eileen DeRosas.
Brooklyn and Cambridge are just two of many. More than 50 CSAs have sprung up around the country, drawing fans and shareholders from those other CSAs. “We have discovered that community members who love local food tend to love local everything,” write the founders of the first community supported art program in Minnesota. The claim could be true. According to one survey by the group, nearly half of all first-time CSA members have plans to buy more work from one of the artists in their shares.
To see if there’s a program near you, check this map.