Art groups across Kitchener and Waterloo have united to launch the region's first online catalogue to connect buyers and sellers.
The Local Art For Local Walls (LAF) is an inclusive website composed by five arts organizations within the region; the Art District Gallery, Art$Pay, KWSA, Riverside Print Group and Uptown Gallery.
The website, lafwr.com, will be the first platform to feature work from hundreds of artists in one place, allowing residents to browse through a selection of over 100 locally made works of art.
With 310 artists invited to apply to the LAF website, works that will be featured on the platform include greeting cards, jewellery, prints, paintings and works in fiber, glass, clay, wood and metal.
Cathy Farwell is the project manager for Art$Pay and says the idea for an online catalogue has been in the works for a while as more people turn to online shopping and away from stores.
"It's more difficult to get people out to art shows and it became obvious that an online art presence would be needed." said Farwell, "Now that the pandemic has happened, it has accelerated that agenda."
"Online purchasing is the way that people have begun to purchase art, and it's going to be that way for a long time."
Since the website was created in consultation with multiple groups and is being run by volunteers, Farwell says the website is only a virtual space for showcasing different works of art.
If someone finds a piece they would like to purchase, the website will redirect them to the artists website for purchase. All transactions are conducted in advance before the piece is sent.
"We're going very simple because we're going very quickly and this is an experiment because the region has never done this before." said Farwell, "A list of instructions (on how to use the website) will be on the homepage."
The website is set to launch on Monday and will go through a trial period until August 31st. After that, all groups will review the website's performance.
Farwell says the results from this trial could determine the long-term use of the online marketing and promotion after the pandemic subsides.
"For the arts and culture and entertainment industry, we are going to be the last sector to recover... so we're going to have to be creative." said Farwell, "If the site is not successful and artists are not able to sell their work, then other artists aren't going to want to post their stuff."
"I hope that people will put 'Support Local Artists' in their head first...and shop local."