Postmasters Gallery announced on Monday that it had joined Patreon, the online platform where everyday fans can provide low-cost monthly funding to creative types ranging from artists to podcasters to musicians. My colleague Eileen Kinsella did some additional reporting to flesh out the what, why, and how of the move.

Postmasters’ page on Patreon includes a manifesto titled “BRING BACK THE BALANCE,” in which co-founders Magda Sawon and Tamas Banovich explain how supplementing their primary-market sales with a subscription model could provide a counterweight to the gallery sector’s increasingly top-heavy, brand-centric, winner-takes-all economics. They see the Patreon campaign as a way to transform Postmasters into “a radical hybrid combining the strength of the market with the support of the community.”

By now, we’ve all seen the social-media and editorial mourning around the closure of respected mid-level galleries. In most cases, the problem is that the average fan—meaning someone who loves to experience art, but doesn’t have the disposable income to buy it regularly—is incapable of doing much of anything to chase the reaper from a beloved space’s front door.

This also helps explain why so many galleries, including many of the most successful ones, tend to treat non-collecting visitors with the same passive aggression that restaurant staff normally reserve for drunk college students who thrash into a booth five minutes before closing time to start endlessly pounding cheap coffee. Read more