PLAYING TO THE CROWD
Funding initiatives for the arts and artists have been a godsend
Crowdfunding, in theory, is a godsend — asking large numbers of people to donate small amounts of money for a worthy project or cause. And in an arts environment where formal funding is hard to come by and can take ages to secure, the notion of a virtual “crowd” tossing virtual bank notes into a virtual hat may seem like manna from heaven for creative professionals trying to finance their dreams.
But, warn some freelance and independent SA arts practitioners who have gone the crowdfunding route, it’s by no means easy money. You don’t just set up a page through an online crowdfunding platform, sit back and watch the money roll in. It’s hard work and high on administration. And there’s no guarantee of success.
Plus, many crowdfunding websites charge a commission on funds raised, others set a time limit, and some charge penalties or return money to donors if you fail to reach your funding goal.
Ultimately, though, it’s worth it — and, converts say, crowdfunding adds a gloss of professionalism and legitimacy to your project, while raising its public profile.
Earlier this year, Afrikaans rock band Fokofpolisiekar raked in more than R1m through SA crowdfunding platform Thundafund to finance their new album. Independent filmmakers Dineo Lusenga and Sihle Hlophe also used Thundafund to fund their short film Nomfundo, which was recently screened at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
In this model, backers are offered incentives or “rewards” such as tickets, albums or merchandise — making them de facto investors in a project.
Thundafund CEO Patrick Schofield has an extensive background in social entrepreneurship — combining commercial strategies with innovative ideas to change society for the better — and says: “I know how difficult it is to raise capital when you have an idea but no proof of concept. How do people know it’s worthwhile? Through crowd verification.”
You needn’t have a strong Twitter or Facebook following for an online campaign to succeed, he adds —
The cast of
Platteland Preview festival At the
Recovering: Robert Fridjhon (centre) with Craig Jackson and Bronwyn Gottwald in