Yesterday we announced the winner of the $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant, and while Matthew Conboy's idea is downright badass, I have said from the beginning, this grant is about a lot more than the winning idea.

Most photographers (and artists in general) don't think about what to do with their work after they've made it. Art school programs focus heavily on the art-making but leave out the practical applications like how to sell it and how to get it in front of people. And not just anyone, but the people most likely to appreciate it and want to buy it. We are churning out art and artists but not addressing the elephant in the room:  demand is not keeping up with supply. Not even close.

Crusade for Art as an organization was created to pick up where art schools and artists' minds left off - our mission is to educate, inspire and empower photographers to connect new audiences to art.

The idea for the Crusade Engagement Grant came before the idea for the non-profit organization, and Crusade for Art was built around it. This was the question I was trying to figure out: How can we get photographers to think about how to connect people to their work? It seemed like if I could crack that nut, then our most creative people would be working en masse to solve the supply and demand imbalance in art. Bam! Let's do it, right?

So here was the answer I came up with: offer a lot of money. Simple. All that was left to do was raise $10,000, create a non-profit organization (get a board of directors, a website, fill out the IRS paperwork), figure out how a grant gets announced and administered, publicize it with no budget, and pull the trigger. Well, it seemed pretty straight-forward after driving a temperamental VW bus around the country.

The goal is to get a lot of photographers to think about how to connect people to their work, whether or not they even apply. And by publicizing the finalist ideas and tracking the progress of the winner, hopefully even more photographers will be inspired to take action and work to build a collector base for their photography.

We will give this grant again next year. And the year after, and the year after. So you keep thinking, and we'll keep funding, and together we can create the kind of change the art world desperately needs.

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