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CSArt Ottawa offers a season's subscription to local art

Subscribe to a yearly delivery of Ottawa's best local artistic talent.

Megan Piercey Monafu, founder of CSArt Ottawa.


Megan Piercey Monafu, founder of CSArt Ottawa.

If you’re a member of a community shared agriculture program, you might receive a monthly box of fresh vegetables. One Ottawa artist intends to re-create that model – but with a crop of Ottawa’s best artistic talent.

CSArt Ottawa founder Megan Piercey Monafu is a member of the local Roots and Shoots CSA, one of the inspirations for her new CSArt Ottawa subscription program.

The initiative is based off Community Shared Agriculture models, where local consumers pledge money at the start of the year to support one or more local farms. Ideally pledgers form a relation with with growers, are delivered fresh local produce and share the financial risk of farming.

“I really like how it connects me with the season, the city and the surrounding area,” she said. “I wondered how that would work for art and in researching it saw that there are several models like that for art.”

Monafu said most exist in the United States, with one successful program operating in Montreal. Most offered exclusively visual art – but as an artist in the theatre world, Monafu didn’t want to limit CSArt Ottawa to paintings and prints.

Instead, subscribers who pledge $400 or $1,000 sign up for an exclusive season of poetry, music, ceramics, painting and multimedia art.

The experience of seeing and discussing the artworks involved are facilitated by special events organized by CSArt. One upcoming event is a concert by Ottawa band The Peptides, while another event offers a sit-down dinner and discussion with ceramic artists.

“The goal is to be really accessible and for you to be able to take in multiple art forms,” said Monafu. “It’s providing an expanse of different art forms that are pre-curated for artists who have all done great work in the city in the past.”

For art lovers in Ottawa, it’s an easy way to meet artists and get involved in the local arts scene. Monafu said a big part of the CSA model is building community and getting involved, not just making a financial transaction.

The benefits for the five artists involved in this season’s offerings are also important.

“The artists have a guaranteed fee, which is fairly rare in any artistic discipline. They’re paid by us while they’re creating the work,” said Monafu. “They’re also not responsible for making the event or being their own business person, we plan the events and get the people out.”

Monafu has been working on getting the project started for over a year, and the official launch party featuring the five artists involved this year is taking place next month at Bar Robo in Chinatown.

Subscribers are signing up for a roster of five events over the year, supporting five different artistic endeavors that include...

1. The PepTides (Oct. 17-23, 2016)

The PepTides are Ottawa’s colourful, nine-piece art pop music collective. Subscribers to CSArt will be invited to a up-close-and-personal performance experience that will explore love, hate, revenge, sex, religion, war, and getting ready for dates. The band promises a one-of-a-kind experience “sumptuous rhapsodies, spine-tingling harmonies, lipstick, heels and PVC.”

2. THUNK! Theatre (Nov. 21-26, 2016)

THUNK! Theatre founders Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride are hitting milestones and celebrating their birthdays with a show titled 30/50. True to their passion, the THUNK!ers will offer subscribers an experience around getting older: one part theatre show, one part ritual, all parts party.

3. Mark B. Stephenson (Feb. 12-18, 2017)

Painter Mark Stephenson, known locally for his selfie portraits, will be unveiling a “a large interactive piece of physical art that you can touch and move” called M. CSArt subscribers will get the chance to explore and discuss it over the course of an exhibition. For the event finale the exhibition will be separated into its individual parts, allowing each attendee to take home a unique piece of art.

4. Susie Osler and Chris Turnbull (April 1-7, 2017)

Ceramic artist Susie Osler and poet Chris Turnbull team up in April for an “evening of conversation and tangible and generative art that includes ceramics, photography, poetry and food.” The event for CSArt subscribers includes a dinner party and discussion focused on clay, water and language. Subscribers will leave with a cup and poetry to remember the night by.

5. Chris Turnbull (May 22-27, 2017)

Since 2011, Poet Chris Turnbull’s rout/e has placed poems by contemporary Canadian and international writers on a diverse set of trails mostly in Eastern Ontario, to be encountered by whomever and whatever comes upon them. A spring collection for 2017 will be offered to CSArt subscribers who will participate in a spring nature walk and poetry reading, accompanied by a CSArt supported chapbook.

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