Having a brain wave can often be the start of your problems, not least because you normally need access to moolah to bring your idea to fruition. But where do you get it from?
Throughout history artists and musicians were reliant upon patronage. Some, such as the Medicis, were not entirely altruistic, seeing the patronage of art as a good way of cleansing the money they had made from usury. Nonetheless, even until recently arts groups were able to find sponsorship fairly easily or banks willing to lend money to support a business idea. Alas, not any more as someone who is associated with a longstanding arts festival well knows. Sponsorship money is not as readily available as it once was.
Although the internet has a lot to answer for, it has provided the platform for many an innovative idea. One such is Kickstarter which enables people with ideas to access funding from individuals. It uses what is known as crowdfunding techniques, allowing people to pitch their ideas and for individuals to pledge money to help bring them to fruition.
Like many a good idea, the concept is pretty simple. Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. Visitors to the site review the project specs and decide whether to invest or not. A bit like Dragon’s Den, if the project doesn’t raise its minimum funding goal by the deadline, the project creator gets nothing.
Projects eligible for investment are in the following major categories: Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film and Video, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology and Theatre. Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised. The scheme operates on an investor beware basis because there is no guarantee that the people who use Kickstarter to raise funds will actually deliver the project or that the project will ultimately meet the backers’ expectations.
Notwithstanding that, Kickstarter, which launched in the UK on 31st October 2012, has announced that £22.5m has been pledged, of which £17.1m has gone to 1,550 projects which have met their capital requirement. Apparently, some 323,282 have pledged money via the website. 25% of the successful fundraisers were associated with film and video, 13% associated with publishing ventures, a further 13% with games and 11% with music. The scheme, which originated in the US (natch) is migrating to Canada and Australia in the near future.
Perhaps this is what Cameron’s Big Society (remember that?) is all about. It is good to know that the internet is not all bad and a new source of artistic patronage has opened up. I will watch its progress with interest.