Ask and it shall be given unto you

Question: How to make lots of money very quickly?

Answer: Crowdfunding.

So what is crowdfunding? It is the process of raising funds from a large group of people, generally using the internet to reach out to potential contributors. Donating often comes paired with benefits for the donor: not only does the project go ahead but the creator can offer special perks that can only come from them, ranging from credits and signed posters, to exclusive material and set visits, depending on the project.

The use of crowdfunding has increased exponentially in recent years, due in part to cuts in arts funding and the increasing accessibility of the internet. Websites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter make it easy to create a profile, share it amongst people and start a project. Kickstarter is based on the key principles of sharing and honesty: the project you have created must culminate in a piece of work that can be shared amongst all who followed the campaign or donated. These are not charity cases, it is a genuine form of business deal, the contributor gets a product for their money, whether that is a perk or a chance to experience the finished project.

So how does this work for the arts? Many successful arts projects have been funded through this method. Hey, I’m Alive! by Creative Electric, which was recently part of Arches LIVE in Glasgow, was part funded by an Indiegogo campaign. They had to reach a target of £1,500 in order to enhance their performance about cystic fibrosis. The money which was donated to them by seventy-one individual funders will allow them to make the production more accessible to people who have cystic fibrosis who may not be able to attend the performance. This is an example of how crowdfunding can be used successfully to benefit local arts projects.

Crowd funding for the arts can also work on a great scale, for example Amanda Palmer who raised $1.2 million, after only asking for $100,000, to fund her 2012 album, Theatre Is Evil, and her subsequent tour. She created what she calls the ‘art of asking’.

However her success was highly controversial. The money raised was spent very quickly, and soon after that she blogged asking for musicians to play on her tour for a free beer, effectively as volunteers. This was met by outrage from the general public; her community however were more accepting.

This highlights one of the problems for creators: the publicity. Often this is exciting and creates a positive vibe for the project pre-production; however it can also present some difficulties. The creator is in the public eye, their actions analysed and the production analysed to fit the high expectations that the donors had. The project created is expected to live up to the brief set out, which, especially in the creation of art, does not always work out.

[Rachel Pyke]

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