So… this is tricky.
It’s not often I do any crowdfunding for things I’m working on. But now two crowdfunding drives have come along at once. Oops.
One is for the theatre company I run, Daedalus. We need some funds to move our community storytelling project East online. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know about that because I’ve been posting about quite a lot.
And now there’s Ecostage, an initiative led by a group of theatre designers to foster sustainable practice in the performing arts. I’ll be telling my social media followers more about that over the coming days, and doubtless post something here too.
But for now, I want to say why I think crowdfunding is the right thing to do.
Even before lockdown, funding in the arts was pretty dysfunctional, with huge amounts being earned at the commercial end, but almost none of that feeding back into developing new talent and new ideas, or working with communities, or just taking risks: ie all the non-commercial stuff that the commercial sector happily feeds off for free. Money from ticket sales and so on rarely covers costs, and there’s only so much Lottery money available to the Arts Council. And now, of course, the lockdown has decimated the entire sector, making funding even more scarce.
So we need to look to other sources. Again, this was the case before lockdown, but Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation. In the past the government has talked about an American-style patronage model. Apart from the fact that that has quite distinct problems of its own, the main issue is that such a model simply does not exist in the UK, and no amount of wishful thinking from Westminster can magic it into place. Instead, we spend a lot of time applying to grant-giving trust and foundations, but this is a huge amount of work with a fairly low rate of success.
In this context, occasional crowdfunding is clearly the right way to fund some projects, and it’s just a matter of picking which ones feel appropriate. East has failed to get funding from more conventional sources, but is of very clear social value, and the crowdfunding process itself can foster community engagement. Ecostage needs to preserve its autonomy as an organisation, which is much better achieved through crowdfunding then through grants or sponsorship. And again, the process of fundraising helps build a community. For me, that makes both excellent candidates for crowdfunding. I hope you’ll agree. And maybe you’ll chuck a little cash their way!
Links to both are below: