Despite – or maybe because of – the economic downturn, new, forward-thinking arts funding models are booming. In my dual capacity as grants administrator and grants seeker, I pay careful attention to the reaction of funders in good times and bad. As we all know, arts funding has historically been limited; recent decreases in philanthropic giving overall doesn’t help. A few young leaders, however, have responded to these limitations by creating new funding models.
What has occurred is a transition from traditional giving through proposals with guidelines to democratized giving through popular vote and/or reliance on small donations. The young leaders who are behind these new systems are using tools they know best: social media and critical mass. Two models – launched out of Brooklyn, NY in 2009 – are starting to take off:
Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com): an online fundraising tool, in association with Amazon.com, allows users to solicit individual donations from friends, family and just about anyone who knows the website exists. Any artist or arts organization is able to upload a proposed project to Kickstarter, then market the project to their friends and networks. Reminiscent of the success of the Obama/Biden Campaign of 2008, a project becomes successful through widespread solicitation of smaller donations using online media. Small donations which, these days, are more stable than a foundation grant. And the result is a streamlined individual giving campaign with minimal effort but with potential to fill that funding gap many arts organizations experience. Read the rest of this entry »