Originally posted on December 8, 2015 on Feature Shoot. See the full post here.

As the creator and director of the non-profit Crusade for Art, Jennifer Schwartz helps find new ways to connect photographers with wider circles of buyers. Each year, Crusade for Art awards a $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant to carry out an forward-thinking way to engage new audiences with photography. By increasing the demand for photo-based art, Schwartz works to empower artists around the world. 

Prior to founding Crusade for Art, Schwartz ran her own gallery out of Atlanta, where she highlighted work by emerging artists. We are thrilled to have her on the jury for the 2015 Emerging Photography Awards, and we caught up with her about Crusade for Art, the industry, and what she'll be looking for in this year's submissions.

Tell us a bit about why you decided to create Crusade for Art

"When I had my gallery in Atlanta (Jennifer Schwartz Gallery), I was really interested in finding ways to get new people engaged with photography and specifically with my gallery and artists. I saw (and continue to see) an imbalance between supply in art and the demand for it. Crusade for Art is committed to creating demand for art, specifically fine art photography, by cultivating art lovers, patrons and collectors. "

At Crusade for Art, you have the unique position of working between photographers and buyers. What are buyers—and potential buyers— looking for?

"Photography is the perfect medium for people who are new to buying art. It is accessible and affordable. Beyond that, I think seasoned buyers and new potential buyers are looking for a connection. They want to be drawn to an image and also be able to lock onto something that makes the piece really stand out for them – a connection to the artist, a new experience, a feel-good opportunity – something that gets them to take that step from appreciation to buying."

The Crusade Engagement Grant supports innovative ways to connect photographers to new audiences. Could you share one of your success stories with us? 

"Our second grant winners are just getting their project LDOC up and running, and it’s really going gang-busters. But we have been able to follow the success of our first grant-winning project, Start With Art, throughout 2015, and the response to it has been absolutely incredible. Start With Art is Matthew Conboy’s program where babies born in three Pittsburgh-area hospitals all go home with an original, signed photography from a local artist."

As a former gallerist, can you tell us a bit about the kind of work you're personally drawn to? 

"I am personally drawn to a wide range of photographic styles and subjects, and my personal collection is very diverse. I love images that are powerful and tell a story."

What will you be looking for in these submissions?

"I will be looking for thoughtfulness in concept and execution. I can’t wait to see what comes my way!"

From the 2015 Crusade for Art  Verso print sale

From the 2015 Crusade for Art Verso print sale

Apply to the Feature Shoot 2015 Emerging Photography Awards here