The Folklore Project selected nine artists working in traditional and folk media for its CSA, which will offer 50 shares for $350 each. Each share contains fiber art, a metal cow bell, painted eggs, a doll, needlepoint bookmark, appliquéd baby carrier and origami. Each artist will produce a limited edition of 50 objects and, if all shares sell, will get 70 percent (roughly $1,360). The remaining 30 percent will cover program expenses, program associate Selina Morales said.
The GG/TSA partnership also selected nine artists for its curated box of art. Items include jewelry, prints, works on paper, a vinyl record of sound art and a metal sculpture. Fifty shares are available for $450 each, and if shares sell out, each artist will receive $1,750 plus a CSA share of art. The CSA would get roughly $15,750.
The project's goal of creating new collectors is already working, as both CSAs are selling shares. While art-world insiders are among the buyers (the Knight Foundation and the city of Philadelphia), "predominantly it's people we don't know," said Mary Smull of the GG/TSA group. Morales said the Folklore Project is offering payment plans, too, since "$350 is a significant amount."
Both groups are committed to a second round, and the Folklore Project will start looking for its next group of artists in October.
As for whether the CSA approach will have a long-term impact on the local art scene, Gary Steuer, the mayor's head of arts policy, said he wasn't sure. "It's an experiment. You've got to start somewhere," he said.
Longtime Philadelphia art observer Sid Sachs, who teaches art history at University of the Arts and runs the school's Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, was skeptical.
"For the artists, it's not helping their careers. For the art-minded people who buy shares, they spend $450 and get tchotchkes. You don't build collectors like that," he said. "Getting them interested in art . . . that's what you need."
The traditional philanthropic approach of donating directly to artists or institutions does real good, Sachs said. He pointed to the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, which annually award $60,000 grants to as many as 12 artists in the five-county Philadelphia region. "When Pew gives money, the person can take off for a year. That affects someone, and it helps," he said.
Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge and administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.