Friday 26th September 2014Crowdfunding the Arts Ramps Up
Traditionally, the art world has existed on almost the opposite of crowdfunding. At least in the European tradition, an artist would do his best (traditionally, the European masters have largely been men, as unfair as that is) to impress a single wealthy patron who would then undertake to fund all of the artist's subsequent costs - within reason, of course. This would often extend to providing food, lodging and materials in exchange for the first bite at the apple, and the right to request any sort of commission that the patron may wish to have undertaken. In modern terms, the closest analog would likely be a monthly retainer, although lawyers and the like often have many clients that pay retainers.
Recently, however, we discussed the change in this dynamic that originally begun with the impressively novel crowdfunding site named Kickstarter. For those that haven't yet heard of the site, the essential premise of the site is that people can post project proposals online, and have it funded by a large number of individuals making small contributions, as opposed to a single wealthy patron bankrolling the entire project. While the previous discussion was limited to art galleries in the UK, this time around the effort is being undertaken in cooperation with what is arguably the world's most popular art fair (another model which is dramatically shaking up the art world), Art Basel. Known for hosting wildly successful art fairs originally in Basel and then expanding to the somewhat unlikely satellite locations of Hong Kong and Miami Beach, Art Basel has started a formal partnership with Kickstarted in the hopes of encouraging viewers to support non-profit art groups using the crowdfunding site and model.
Named the Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative, the project has already begun it's first foray into the crowdfunding scene with four projects, which cover and impressively diverse spectrum of content and funding requirement. SculptureCenter, in New York, is hoping to raise $12,000; Gasworks in London is hoping to raise roughly $65,000; Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (a terrible name, it must be said) is hoping to raise $5,000 for a concert series in Los Angeles; and the 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney, Australia is hoping to raise $18,000. Here's to hoping that the crowdfunding model can provide the much-needed support these projects require to get off the ground!
Posted on September 26th 2014 on 12:05am
Friday 06th June 2014Crowdfunding Galleries
Unless you've been living on the Moon for the last few years, you've probably run across the term 'crowdfunding'. If you haven't heard of it before, the concept is actually extremely simple, albeit incredibly powerful. It uses a 'pay-what-you-can' model distributed over a large number of potential customers to acquire funding for projects. There are often various tiers of contributors, so that those who contribute more to a project get more out of it than those who make the minimum contribution.
For example, say you want to make a documentary, but need money for development costs and have no film studio contacts or capital. Posting your plan on a crowdfunding site, you would entice people to contribute to your documentary project. People who contribute $5 get a mention in the film credits, people who contribute $20 get a copy of the film and a credit mention, people who contribute $40 get an additional 'Making Of' documentary, the film itself, and a credit mention, etc. Once your goal is reached, the money is released and you can begin to work on your film.
The most popular crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are enabling entirely new revenue models across the creative sphere, from video game development to documentary filmmaking to industrial engineering. But at long last, the crowdfunding model has reached into the gallery world - at least, in the United Kingdom.
A new project entitled Art Happens has been launched by the charity Art Fund, in an attempt to bring the incredible power of crowdfunding to the UK art world. Five galleries so far have launched projects using the Art Happens platform: St. Fagan's National History Museum in Cardiff, the Bowes Museum in County Durham, Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the Museum of the Gorge in Shropshire, and the Jerwood Gallery in East Sussex. At the moment, the most popular project is only 12% funded, with 18 contributors and 74 days left to reach the fundraising goal. This, quite naturally, begs the question of whether or not the initial selections are interesting enough for those who follow the tech-centric crowdfunding payment model, or whether the project simply has yet to go viral, which everyone appreciates is an incredibly difficult thing to predict.
With luck, the Art Happens project will trigger other galleries and artists to begin to explore new methods of financing their projects - after all, nobody really wants to be too much of a starving artist!
Posted on June 06th 2014 on 02:59pm
Tuesday 25th March 2014The BBC Rededicates Itself to the Arts
The BBC is one of the most beloved British institutions, one that has reached hearts and minds of millions of citizens for nearly 100 years. Over the course of that long life, it has occasionally varied in its goals, depending on the view its directorship takes of the current cultural climate and how the BBC fits into that milieu. Naturally, the BBC News and the World Service are what made the name for the corporation in the early days, but as the media landscape changes, the institution is taking steps to ensure that it stays relevant. In a boon for art lovers everywhere, the current Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall (who also happens to be Baron Hall of Birkenhead), has recently decided that the BBC's role in the art world should be stepped up several notches.
"The arts are for everyone, and from now on BBC Arts will be at the very heart of what we do," Hall said, and drove the point home by appointing several prominent figures in the arts to leadership positions within the BBC, including the director of the prestigious Tate galleries, Sir Nicholas Serota, and the director the National Theatre, Sir Nicholas Hytner.
Nobody can doubt the genuineness of Hall's desire to bring the BBC Arts into the foreground. "I want BBC Arts – and BBC Music – to sit proudly alongside BBC News … We’ll be joining up arts on the BBC like never before – across television, radio and digital. And, we’ll be working more closely with our country’s great artists, performers and cultural institutions," he said, although it remains to be seen how well the corporation will be able to cope in an increasingly digital world. The success of the iPlayer system seems to bode well, but larger organisations have been seen to stumble occasionally when it comes to emphasising digital offerings.
Regardless of their digital fortunes, it speaks well of the BBC that in an era of financial instability and insecurity and government austerity programs, that the arts aren't always getting the short end of the stick. The BBC has the potential to truly reinvigorate the performing arts scene all across the United Kingdom, and has the chance to set an example for other countries and governments around the world to rededicate themselves to creating a rich cultural tapestry.
Posted on March 25th 2014 on 04:43am