Springboard for the Arts (2012),” Knight Foundation

November 23, 2020; Star Tribune

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the nonprofit Springboard for the Arts is offering boxes full of art and arts activities “fresh from makers’ studios” in which members can buy shares (starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1, 2020) in a bid to support local artists. The program is fashioned after the community share boxes used to support local farmers, but in this case, it supports artists.

The program was first launched in 2011, when the organization published a toolkit that allows for replication and tailoring for local conditions. Andy Sturdevant, Springboard’s artist resources director, says the time is right to revive it, albeit with some pandemic adjustments—the three boxes will be delivered over a number of months by the US Postal Service. The new model also provides for being gifted to someone else, a feature desired by members.

“There is something magical about mail,” Sturdevant says. “The experience of getting mail is both an in-person, but also a remote experience.”

Shares cost $250 each, and in exchange you’ll get surprises sorted into three categories: comfort, care, and craft. Some may even be do-it-yourself projects, contingent on media and skills.

Thin sheets of copper will come from Elizabeth Belz, a Grand Marais-based blacksmith who has fashioned a kit to craft your own copper insect. She will provide templates, brass fasteners and a how-to booklet, assuming you have some scissors and a hammer on hand. The at-home crafters can “emboss the copper at their will,” Belz said, creating patterns on the wings and eyeballs on the head.

“It’s something they can do at home that isn’t made of paper,” said Belz, who works with heat and steel. She hopes the project makes the metal arts a little more accessible.

The entire program sidesteps the online-only trap the arts have caught in. “Sometimes,” says Sturdevant, “it creates a bad simulacrum.”—Ruth McCambridge