Chart charity art

magazine online and in print for charities & arts / creative people

2006, Aug., Orlando Business Journal


Orlando Business Journal, Aug. 4-10, 2006

The art of collaboration
Synergistic promotional program helps artists get better exposure.

By Bob Mervine – Staff Writer

WINTER PARK — A Winter Park woman is blending art and charity, commerce and community service in a promotional program that includes a quarterly magazine designed to benefit all who participate.
The idea for the concept first began to percolate following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America when Casey Swann, a 23-year advertising and marketing veteran and owner of Cutting Edge Communications Inc., experienced a slowdown in business.
While pondering how to shift her business focus during a weekend trip to an art show with a former college roommate, Swann says she realized how difficult it is for artists to market and promote their work. With that in mind, she devised an interconnected promotional program designed to sell original art created by local artists.
The chART Art Collection program is an unusual combination of elements that includes a profitable, slick lifestyle magazine dubbed chART — in-the-kNOW Art of Living, an online catalog of artwork for sale and a series of art-related events held at advertisers’ businesses that generate traffic and sales. All are connected by more than 70 charities that benefit from the proceeds of the art sales.
United Arts President and CEO Margot Knight calls the process “a creative brokerage.”
“I love the way she has connected the local business community with the arts,” says Knight. “It’s a great concept that complements and doesn’t compete with local businesses or artists.”

Trickle-down effect


For her part in running the program, Swann takes a 30 percent commission on the art sold, and every sale includes a 20 percent donation to the charity of the buyer’s choice. Businesses, from The Volvo Store to Adair’s restaurant, advertise in the magazine, display the art and host the charity-related events, which generate more art sales and charity donations.
The magazine, presented in a slick color format comparable to other local lifestyle publications includes advertising from the businesses that display the art and editorial content about local artists, charitable events and organizations.
Says Karen Carasik, a mixed media artist who works out of the COMMA art studio, “She’s (Swann) a committee of one who has succeeded by her force of will, the old-fashioned values of commitment and enthusiasm.”
Carasik adds that not only the non-profits and Swann’s stable of artists benefit from what she doesn’t, but that there’s “a trickle-down or trickle sideways – maybe even a puddle effect – that benefits the broader community as well.”

‘Real niche-y’

Participant David Reynolds has experienced that trickle-down effect firsthand and says the program is an example of relationship management at its best.
Reynolds, owner of Reynolds and Co. Jewelers, has been advertising in Swann’s chART magazine since it started. He bought the first ad “because it was for a good cause,” he says, but has since discovered it brings customers into the store to look at the half-dozen pieces of art on display.
“I’ve sold jewelry off of the ad,” he says. “In fact, I’ve had more sales from advertising with them than any other place.”
Reynolds thinks the relationships Swann uses to bring things together are what makes the whole concept successful. “It’s based mostly on a lot of word-of-mouth that she generates,” says the businessman. “She knows what works.”
The concept is actually quite simple explains Swann: Magazine subscribers, at $24 a year, get invitations to the events and a first look at new art. In addition to subscriptions, the magazine is distributed at advertiser’ businesses and at the special events.
With only 600 subscribers, Swann says the magazine need not have a huge circulation to be successful. After all, she points out, it is only one link in the chain.
“I look at things totally differently than most people do,” Swann says. “chART is not just a magazine, and it’s not like other publications. Its real niche-y.”
NOTE: in 2007 chART began representing Chrissie Grace’s tile mosaics. Chrissie is OBJ writer’s Bob Mervine’s daughter. Bob passed away in 2007, a big loss for the marketing and advertising industry that he covered in OBJ.