If you live outside of Chicago or Brooklyn, you may not realize that one of Crusade for Art's major initiatives is its Local Chapter program. The local chapters are made up of up to ten artist members who all work together to promote and sell their work and cultivate collectors in their own communities.
We have thriving chapters in both Chicago (our first) and Brooklyn (our second). This past weekend we held our annual Local Chapter Summit (so official!) where the directors of each chapter and I got together to discuss, brainstorm and celebrate.
In case you haven't been following along. . .
The Chicago chapter has just hit its one-year anniversary and celebrated with a successful tiered print sale – a redo of their launch event, which will now be an annual anniversary affair. They created a postcard subscription program in 2015 that they are repeating for 2016. This is an effective, low-cost way to regularly connect with their audience. Each postcard has a hand-written message from the featured artist member. Chicago also held an Art-B-Q event that they hope to turn into another annual event. They paired BBQ food with an outdoor art exhibition, where pieces were bid on with tickets and auctioned off. They were also invited by Alibi Gallery to have an exhibition of members' work. Kind of a badass year.
Chicago has six artist members (one was added recently, the others were founding members). Matthew Crowther is the director, but decisions are made democratically and responsibilities are delegated. The chapter also regularly holds informal critique sessions between members and rotate instagram posting responsibilities.
The Brooklyn chapter also launched (this summer) with a tiered print sale, followed by an opportunity to showcase their work in a shipping container in Photoville. The Photoville event is highly selective, and the prestige and incredible visibility was a huge boost to the new chapter.
Brooklyn has ten artist members, and Liz Arenberg and Sara Macel are the co-directors. The Brooklyn chapter has two new programming initiatives for 2016. One is a series of ArtFeast dinners where a chef will be paired with two artists to create a meal inspired by the artist members’ work. The featured artist members would give memento prints to attendees and also have larger framed pieces for sale. In the second program, the chapter is partnering with a successful agricultural CSA to offer an agriculture + art option to shareholders.
So what was the summit all about?
We spent a lot of time discussing the possibility of adding “curator members” to the overall local chapter membership. These members would be people interested in art and collecting and would be responsible for creating programming to educate like-minded people and encourage them to participate in and collect art. We also talked about ways to increase the visibility of the artist members, cross-chapter collaborations, future programming, adding a new chapter, accounting and accountability, and just generally about the awesomeness of the directors and this program.