Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kickstarter and the New Era of Arts Funding | Open Thread

Deadlines are approaching for a number of grant applications, always a joyous season for artists whose production costs far outweigh the income from their art. And while I have nothing but admiration and respect for the institutions who spend their money supporting the arts, I do know from talking with my artist friends that there are far more people applying for the funding than money to go around. I also know that the complexities of the various applications are stressful for the applicants.

Which is why I've been watching to see how Kickstarter is doing. As an idea, it borrows from the micro-lending organizations that have made a huge difference in the lives of people in poverty-stricken countries and apparently not the worse place you can invest your money either. But Kickstarter is focused on creative projects. From their website:

Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.

We believe that:

  • A good idea, communicated well, can spread fast and wide.
  • A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.

Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

The beauty of Kickstarter is that, being about creative projects, the more creative your appeal is (rather than the more exact or bureaucratically complete, as seems to be one of the keys to successful grant applications), the greater your chances of success will be.

I first started paying closer attention to Kickstarter when Laura Isaac used it to fund her hysterical project for #rank. At first I thought that was a wonderful, but certainly too-time-consuming video to produce just to raise the money. Then I realized, that funding hopefuls need to creatively attract not only those willing to part with cash to support them, but also the Kickstarter editorial staff in order to have to highlight/recommend their project over the others on the site:
What gets featured on Kickstarter is an editorial decision by our staff. We pay particularly close attention to fun projects that use the system creatively, have compelling videos and rewards, and have a nice head of momentum behind them.
So it's still highly competitive, but not with regards to who you know on the grant committee or how precisely you can complete the application. You want people to fund your creative project? Show them how creative you are.

Here is a quick cross-section of interesting fine art projects currently up on Kickstarter. Consider which of them you might support. Did I mention, your support always comes with REWARDS?
  • Nature In Nature: Sculpture at the Audubon Center Boat House; Project by Robert Lobe
  • #140hBerlin - A 6-day Performance; Project by Man Bartlett
  • Soda Tooth Presents SMart Box: Art Education for Kids! ; Project by Soda Tooth
Please consider this an open thread to share your own Kickstarter project or commiserate on the grant application process.

Labels: arts funding, grants


Blogger Joanie Gagnon San Chirico said...

I used Kickstarter just about a year ago to help get my project: pFAn- professional Fine Art network
off the ground. Without it, I could never have developed the website and resources for this collective of freelance fine artists, consultants, fabricators and art administrators.

Kickstarter is a brilliant concept, and I'm pleased to see that it's doing well and helping to fund other worthy projects.

1/13/2011 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Laura Isaac said...

I'm so honored! Thank you! And yes, it's amazing how much time it takes to fund a project... but ultimately really rewarding. With only 30 days and the all-or-nothing set-up of Kickstarter, it was a crash course in getting my message out there. It was fascinating to see who wanted to support the project, who supported but declined their "rewards" because they just wanted to support something they liked, and who sprung for the "big bucks" rewards. As with any project, you have to give your all to a Kickstarter project; start to finish. I'm packing up and sending out the last batch of rewards this week and I can tell I'm going to miss the box of "Where do YOU #Rank?" related items by my desk. Thank you, once again. - Laura

1/13/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Kianga Ellis said...

Another great project was funded yesterday: Times Square to Art Square

1/13/2011 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan Miller said...

I used Kickstarter last year to fund the reprinting of a guidebook to the Tokyo art scene. It's an amazing book, but it's high-end and was originally released as a small print run, so it sold out quickly.

1/13/2011 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mab MacMoragh said...

I've backed various projects on Kickstarter, only one of which didn't meet its stated goal (or maybe it did conceptually) which was to raise funds for nothing (Fund Nothing by Jeff Edwards, where I purposely pledged the minimum amount).

A similar program I'm impressed by is going on at United States Artists, which is worth a look if you're an artist in the USA with a well-defined project goal:

1/13/2011 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mab MacMoragh said...

I should add this to my comment: The requirements for United States Artists include having received an award or grant from USA Project Partners or Recognized Organizations, a list of which can be found here:

1/13/2011 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Laura Isaac said...

I also want to add that I now consider my Kickstarter video a part of my "Where do YOU #Rank?" project as a whole and have it posted to my site with the rest of the project information even though the funding drive is long over.

I have to be careful when browsing Kickstarter... I want to contribute to so many projects!!!

1/14/2011 01:37:00 PM  

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