Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Michael Ohajuru (arts 147)

1. Summary

As an alternative to patronage of the arts being Government funded the reserve of the wealthy I am suggesting using the established principle of crowd funding.

With crowd funding rather than relying on a Government grant or a single wealthy individual, family or institution to fund an art project the funding is broken down into smaller funded units and in return for contributing to the funding the project the donors receive a benefit in kind from the project or the institution.

Today crowding funding is being used by election campaigns, start-up businesses, charities, musicians, films, festivals and others to raise funds from tens to millions of dollars.

Crowd Funding successes include:

The Obama Election campaign which thru crowd funding via the internet and viral marketing to raised many millions of dollars from small donations from millions of people.

Crowd Funding possibilities include:

Creating connections between local societies and national collections for example a group of local village historians could sponsor or fund some aspect of piece of medieval church furniture which has also can be found in their village.

2. What is Crowd Funding ?

2.1 Whitelabelcrowdfunding.com Definition

Crowdfunding allows regular people to raise money [usually via the Internet] for the personal projects, ideas, events and initiatives that matter to them most. Supporters donate to the people and causes they believe in. For example, you might ‘crowdfund’ your honeymoon with gift money from your wedding guests. Or, you could ‘crowdfund’ your pet’s surgery with donations from your friends, family and neighbours. Crowdfunding helps people collect the money needed to bring their fundraising ideas to life.

http://whitelabelcrowdfunding.com/crowdfunding-questions/

2.2 Trampoline Systems Definition

Crowdfunding is an alternative approach to raising finance. It’s evolved over the last decade, first in the film and music industries, then in journalism and now in venture finance. Unlike traditional models which rely on large commitments from one or two institutions crowdfunding is based on raising smaller sums from lots of people, who may be linked by social networks or shared interests.

http://crowdfunding.trampolinesystems.com/

2.3 Wikipedia Definition

Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing or crowd sourced capital) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowd_funding

3. What are the benefits of Crowd Funding ?

3.1 Connects with a younger demographic

Crowd funding is normally internet based and so connects Museums and Galleries with a younger demographic. This generation is more use to being on line using social network sites such as:

BeBo http://www.bebo.com/

Facebook http://www.facebook.com

Twitter http://twitter.com/

MySpace http://www.myspace.com/

They are also use to working collaboratively on line in games such as

World of Warcraft http://www.worldofwarcraft.com

Halo http://halo.xbox.com

or making , tracking and giving to charities via the web as sites such as

eTapestery www.etapestry.com/

just giving http://www.justgiving.com/

3.2 Identifies the Popular Project

Through its viral nature crowd funding quickly identifies those campaigns which strike a chord with the target audience and so take off rapidly while others languish. This allows campaigns or projects to be reassessed rapidly making separating the wheat from the chaff much easier or giving focus to those projects which need to be redefined in some way.

3.3 Reaches out to the community

Like eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/) and Flikr (http://www.flickr.com/) crowd funding is about creating and sustaining communities for a specific purpose eBay buying and selling communities of special interest groups; Flikr creating photograph sharing communities .

Many art and cultural institution recognise the importance of on-line social network communities – Tate, The National Gallery and The V and A for example all have Facebook sites and Twitter sites. Crowd funding is a natural part of that reaching out to the Internet community

3.4 Creates Connections local , national and international

Crowd funding can help the Institutions to connect with communities independent of distance bringing them together and uniting them around common causes.

3.5 Increases the benefactor options

Crowds funding is democratising - no longer would institutions be reliant on the whim of one major benefactor but can take its funding needs literally to the people. The crowd funding entry points could be priced for a variety of pockets and the fund required could be split a variety of ways depending for example on the target communities.

3.6 Low cost , Low risk Entry

The entry costs are minimal as most Intuitions have a way of collecting money for tickets. An additional suitably worded web page could introduce and present crowd funded projects. Some crowd funding sites are in fact free. They take a share of the money raised. The size of the project could be chosen to present minimal risk to the institution.

4. Current Examples of Crowd Funding

4.1 Individual and not-for-profit organisations

White-Label Crowdfunding (http://whitelabelcrowdfunding.com/) White-Label Crowdfunding is considered to be the World’s first fully re-brandable (or private-label) online crowdfunding software available for re-sale by third-party vendors and brands.

They provide the services to two crowd funding sites:

CreateaFund (http://www.createafund.com): CreateaFund provides crowdfunding solutions for small-to-medium sized non-profit organisations and charities. The offering includes functionality for multiple user-accounts and email marketing campaign management.

GoFundMe (http://gofundme.com): GoFundMe gives individual users the tools to raise money online for their fundraising ideas. The crowdfunding solution empowers users to raise money for personal initiatives through social networking channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Source : http://www.crunchbase.com/company/white-label-crowdfunding

4.2 Funding and Following Creativity

Kickstarter uses crowd funding to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavours. They 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 and project is fails.

http://www.kickstarter.com

4.3 Start-ups

Trampoline Systems, the award-winning enterprise software vendor, has pioneered an unconventional approach to finance its growth. Instead of raising money from venture capital firms Trampoline is using the technique called "crowdfunding", raising smaller stakes from a community of smart private investors.

http://crowdfunding.trampolinesystems.com/

4.4 US Presidential Campaign

Presidents Obama success is attributed to his use of the Internet to virally source funds. A quote from the BBC at the time of the election (Thursday, 19 June 2008 ) underlines the point:

Mr Obama has so far raised an unprecedented $265m (£134.5m) in donations in his presidential race, most of it from small donations given over the internet.

This dwarfs the nearly $97m Mr McCain has so far raised.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7463813.stm

5. A Sample Possible Crowd Funded Project at the V&A

The recently renovated Victoria and Albert Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries relies in the main for traditional wall plaques, essentially the same presentation technique dating back to the first museums founded in the seventeenth century. Further there appears to be little or no British examples in the these Galleries as the finest pieces are to be found the British Galleries.

Appropriately designed interactive on-line guides based on podcasts* could be used to describe the Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries pieces bringing the presentation up to date and at the same time where necessary make the connection to pieces in the British Galleries.

This work could be funded by crowd funding.

The total cost of the project could be broken down to cost of the podcast for each piece and offered as part of a crowd funded project, with the sponsor for each piece could be noted on the podcast.

*A podcast (or non-streamed webcast) is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication. The word usurped webcast in common vernacular, due to rising popularity of the iPod and the innovation of web feeds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast

For example the audio of the Sir John Soane Musemum http://www.soane.org/audio.html

September 2010