Crusade for Art started with a wild adventure and continued as a full-throttle do-good mission. And while I’m writing to say we’ve rounded our final corner as an organization, I know the passion for art and collecting we have sparked and nurtured will persist.
Crusade for Art’s mission is to engage new audiences with art. You may remember I drove a 1977 VW bus around the country to do just that. We gave away 500 photographs from 50 photographers in 10 cities over 3 months. It was a huge success by any measure, but after coasting home on fumes, both literal and metaphorical, I knew the Crusade needed to be more about inspiring and supporting initiatives than about acting on my own (insane) ideas.
So we shaped the organization around the Crusade Engagement Grant - $10,000 to be used as seed money to fund the most innovative idea to engage new audiences with art. The grant was about more than the winning program. The larger purpose was to tap into our collective creative brainpower and crowdsource ideas to generate demand for art. We did that. Hundreds of applications and three incredible programs funded – Start with Art (now its own full-fledged non-profit, creating hundreds of newborn collectors each month), LDOC (turning Chicago commuters on to art bi-monthly), and Trade 4 Art (the Baltimore-based bartering concept, ready to take on the world).
We also had a pretty rad quarterly feature called FOCAL POINT, where we highlighted three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists among the landscape of emerging photography. They got exposure and mentoring. You got beauty and inspiration. Thirty-six photographers knocked your socks off.
And the Crusade CSA! We had four CSA (Crusade Supported Art) rounds, commissioning a total of 24 amazing photographers to create an image for 200 shareholders. Artists made work, made money, and gained collectors. Shareholders got six pieces of art at a great price. Wins all around.
Those are the highlights, but we did lots of other cool things too. Amazing programming in Chicago and Brooklyn through our Crusade for Art local chapters. A really impactful collaboration with CB2. A couple of books to help photographers navigate the fine art world and grow their collector base (those will still be available in paperback and e-book versions on Amazon). Lectures, workshops, blog posts, lots and lots and lots of advice and consults and pep-talks.
I’m proud of what we accomplished, but it was just the starting point. We planted the seeds, and now we trust you will cultivate and spread them. Art is out there – it’s being made every day, and it is powerful, wonderful. The supply is there, but we need the demand. We need to take demand from a slow, steady hum and grow it to a sonic boom that will support the beauty we are creating.
I want to thank all of you for supporting a great cause, and I want to encourage you to continue to be a champion for art. Crusade is not just an organization – it is a movement. While the organization is ending, the movement has only just begun.