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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Calling all Artist & Artisan Cooperatives!

Nationwide Online Gallery Opens in October, Seeks Items to Post and Publicize

Individuals are welcome too, if they plan to join or start a co-op

What: The Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is launching an online Artist & Artisan Cooperative Gallery ( to feature the work of co-op members around the country.

CDI ( is the Northeast center for co-op business development. It recently accepted a request from the national Cooperative Development Foundation to steward an annual online art auction that was looking for a home. The project is being expanded into a ‘virtual gallery’ open around the clock. Widely publicized auctions will be held several times a year.

Why: The project’s objectives are to market the work of these cooperative members and support their co-ops, to attract individual artists to explore the co-op model, to strengthen the national network of cooperative development centers, and to raise general understanding of the role cooperatives play in a local economy.

Who: Artists and artisans organize cooperatively in many ways. Some groups operate galleries, others share studio or other space, even housing. Some form co-ops primarily to purchase supplies or services together, such as advertising, marketing, or accounting. Member-owners of any of these types of co-ops are eligible to join the Artist & Artisan Cooperative Gallery, and are invited to post their pieces for sale on the gallery website.

How: CDI will maintain the site (perhaps editing for length or clarity) and will promote and conduct the auctions. Auctions featuring selected works from artist and artisan cooperatives will be held several times a year, timed to coincide with major holidays and gift-giving seasons. CDI will notify artists and artisans of purchases or winning bids and will forward shipping information for each piece sold.

Artists and artisans will provide descriptions, photos and other information about themselves, their co-ops, and the pieces for sale. This will include a suggested retail price for each item, the minimum “reserve” price for each auction item, and an estimate of the item’s shipping and handling costs. Artists and artisans may also provide additional materials, such as videos and links to relevant websites. They will be responsible for completing the paperwork for each sale and for shipping purchased items.

The Deal: CDI will retain 20% of the sale price of each item to use for maintaining, expanding and improving the site. Buyers will pay the posted estimated shipping and handling costs, but if actual total shipping and handling costs exceed the estimated amount, artists may invoice CDI for the difference.

The remaining 80% of the sale price will be sent to the artist and artisan cooperative. Each co-op will arrange with its members the percentage of a sale price it requires. A fee of 5% will be charged to unaffiliated artists and artisans to support the educational component of the project.

Plus: CDI and the other cooperative development centers can provide information and help to existing co-ops on expanding, diversifying, buying property, relocating, revising business plans, conducting market research, or other activity. The site will also feature tips on how to start an artist or artisan cooperative. Individuals who are not members of a co-op may post their work on the site for a limited time if they are interested in starting or joining a co-op, or in seriously exploring the co-op model. They will be connected to resource people and information.

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