The Crusade Engagement Grant was created to foster the exploration of innovative programs to connect new audiences to photography.
The 2016 Crusade Engagement Grant winning project is The Trade of Art, Bruce McKaig’s Baltimore-based bartering concept. This program will connect photographers with tradespeople through a barter network that facilitates the direct exchange of art for goods and services.
McKaig says, “My dual experience in the arts and in economics provides the foundation for this project. A barter network for photographers and labor in Baltimore would be a fantastic platform to lead the way to more equitable economic practices that result in more democratic access to the arts.”
Out of hundreds of initial applications for the grant, a group of ten finalists were selected (see below). These finalists all proposed promising and innovative projects.
These finalists’ proposals were reviewed by an esteemed jury of photographic professionals, including Michelle Dunn Marsh (Founder of Minor Matters Books and Executive Director at Photo Center Northwest), Laura Roumanos (Executive Producer and Co-Founder of United Photo Industries and Photoville), and Gordon Stettinius (Founder of Candela Books + Gallery).
The Trade of Art was selected for its innovation in taking a familiar concept (bartering) and applying it to the challenge of creating demand for photography. Its scalability was also very appealing to the jurors.
Juror Gordon Stettinius says, “The idea of giving artists the tools and support to introduce their creative work into the worlds of professional services and tradespeople is definitely attractive. While barter communities exist in many locales, the idea of building such a community to foster interest and acquisition of photography in a given city could prove very interesting as a model for other locations. This is an idea with an impact that will hopefully radiate outward and grow in its reach and efficacy.”
The Crusade Engagement Grant was created to foster the exploration of innovative programs to connect new audiences to photography. McKaig says, “It’s exciting to work on uniting artists and tradespeople in Baltimore by building trust and appreciation for the value of our own and each others’ work.”
Jennifer Schwartz, Executive Director of Crusade for Art, said, “This year’s winning project is innovative, dynamic, and inspiring. This is our third year and our third winner. The previous two winners (Start With Art in 2014 and LDOC in 2015) have proven successful, which gives us renewed confidence in the whole concept of the Crusade Grant. We could not be more excited to add another truly impactful project to the roster in 2016.
The Art of Trade – Bruce McKaig (Baltimore, MD)
Bruce proposes to connect photographers with tradespeople and blue collar workers through a barter network that facilitates the direct exchange of art for goods and services. Read more here.
The Curated Fridge - Yorgos Efthymiadis (Somerville, MA)
The Curated Fridge is a project that stemmed from photographing a collection of photographer postcards and promo images that were mounted with magnets onto a refrigerator. Yorgos wants to use the Crusade Engagement Grant to exhibit life-sized images of the fridge and run a contest for university students to write about their favorite image, with the chance to win a small print.
Elevazioni/Elevations – Francesco Amorosino (Rome, Italy)
Francesco proposes to curate exhibitions by local photographers in the elevators of condominium buildings, using a captive audience to give exposure to area artists. Additional programming would introduce the residents to the featured photographers, and at the end of the exhibition, the residents can "adopt" the work and hang it in a common area or their own homes.
Increasing Exposure to Art Photography in the Bakken Region – Meghan Kirkwood (Fargo, ND)
This proposed project creates a photographic engagement and distribution program in western North Dakota that will connect local audiences with high quality images taken within their communities. Residents of this area do not easily encounter art photography and are often unfamiliar with the work of local artists - an issue Meghan aims to resolve through mobile photo booth events and the distribution of art card sets.
Libraries and Visual Literacy – Ryan Spencer Reed (Ludington, MI)
Ryan proposes to use the Crusade Engagement Grant to distribute 3,000 sets of the four-volume, large-scale zines of his work to hundreds of libraries within the Rust Belt. He also aims to leverage community support to create educational programming in the libraries around the photographic work. Read more here.
New Orleans Experience: Pop-Up Photography Festival - New Orleans Photo Alliance (New Orleans, LA)
The New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA) seeks support through the Crusade Engagement Grant to connect with thousands of new audience members in the heart of one of Louisiana's largest festivals: French Quarter Festival. NOPA would create engaging experiential photography programming during the festival to give festival-goers the opportunity to experience art collecting.
Nomadic Bookshelf – Caitie Moore (Cleveland, OH)
The Nomadic Bookshelf is a small, independent photobook store that flips the conventional bookshop format on its head by having no permanent location. Nomadic Bookshelf travels to book fairs and hosts pop-up shops regionally to engage a larger community with the photobook. Funding from the Crusade Engagement Grant would be used to host workshops and panel discussions and pop-ups about photobook and photography collecting. Read more here.
Operation Art: Connecting the Military Community – Stephanie Shively (Columbia, SC)
Stephanie wants to curate (through an open call for submissions) a fine art photography exhibition that would travel to different military bases in the US and include programming such as artist talks. Read more here.
Speaking of Photography: A Photo Podcast – Bill Boling (Atlanta, GA)
Bill proposes to use the Crusade Engagement Grant funding to start an entertaining but informative weekly podcast that would use interviews and an archival homepage focus on a photographer, exhibition, festival or other compelling topic relating to photography and collecting.
The Storyteller Series – Judy Walgren, in collaboration with SF Camerawork (San Francisco, CA)
The Storyteller Series is a new, bi-monthly talk held at SF Camerawork that showcases an emerging documentary photographer and a well-known visual storyteller. The goal is to provide exposure to visual storytellers as the legacy media channels where their work has traditionally been showcased dwindles. The pilot event was held in April to an enthusiastic crowd, but the program needs funding to support future events.