We are witnessing the dawn of the DAOs.
For the uninitiated, DAOs are web3’s new primitive for organizing talent and capital. DAOs unleash the power of distributed groups of people by tapping into a simple hypothesis: when people are organized under a shared purpose and motivated by ownership incentives, 1+1=11.
In the NFT space, we’ve seen numerous DAOs sprout up to apply this philosophy. DAOs like Pleasr, Fingerprints, and Flamingo aggregate and deploy capital to acquire culturally significant art. While the rapid accrual of high-value NFTs enabled many DAOs to bootstrap brand recognition and cultural relevance, it’s historically limited their impact primarily to that of value capture as opposed to value creation.
For DAOs to elevate their impact from value capture to value creation, they must evolve their role beyond collectors. While there are many directions DAOs could take, one remains most bespoke to the tenets of DAOs and promising as a sustainable model that benefits all stakeholders (the DAO, artists, and the community at large): curation.
In today's culture, curation invokes images of arranging or organizing. However, the origin story of curation and its etymology links back to the Latin root word “curare," which means “to take care of.” History's earliest curators, the Roman curatores were civil servants chartered with overseeing massive public works projects. These original curators oversaw some of history's greatest innovations (such as roads, aqueducts, and sewers, to name a few). Juxtaposing the present-day definition of curation to the role of the Roman curatore, it's clear the definition has strayed quite far away from its original notions.
Wielding the power of their networks, resources, and capital, DAOs have an opportunity to reclaim and re-align the role of curators in our culture. They are positioned to reclaim the role back from gatekeeping institutions, algorithms, and re-align the ideals of curation back to a directly contributing part of the creative process.
The Curare Framework is a simple framework that enables DAOs to work alongside artists to cultivate value—for the artist, the DAO, and the larger community. It is an idea I’ve incubated and pressure-tested as a founding member of BeetsDAO. I share it with the hopes that it will serve some utility for any DAO looking to evolve their involvement in the space. It serves as a guiding light as opposed to a prescriptive operating manual. It is meant to be tailored to the varying operating processes, governance models, and overall !vibes of a specific DAO.
To implement the framework effectively, there are some key elements the DAO should consider having in place:
The guiding principle behind the Curare Framework is to build a relationship between DAO and artist—one that is both creator-centric and mutually beneficial. The framework achieves this by enabling DAOs to engage with artists in 3 phases that culminate in a collaborative partnership: celebration, commission, and collaboration. The framework can be applied to a single artist or multiple artists concurrently (i.e. progressing a batch of artists at the same time) or asynchronously (i.e. progressing each artist at their own pace).
Artists are the initializers of value. They are alchemists who create something from nothing, conjuring a 1 from a 0. As such, the celebration phase entails the DAO adding a work from an artist that aligns with their curatorial narrative to their collection. By doing so, the DAO initiates a relationship with the artist that begins with a celebration of the artist’s story.
Whereas the initial phase focuses on celebrating the artist’s story, the commission phase emphasizes building an immutable bond between the DAO and artist. By commissioning a work, the story remains the artist’s to tell while allowing the DAO to become a character within it.
For DAOs (and collectors writ large), there remains no higher honor than to be invited into the artist’s creative process as a co-author. This is why the collaboration phase of the framework is perhaps the most difficult yet rewarding—both creatively and financially. This phase isn’t meant to signal finality in the relationship between collector and artist but rather the beginning of a new story, told together.
If you are a member of a DAO that has a desire to build more curatorial programming into your community and want help operationalizing this framework, feel free to slide into my DMs on Twitter.