Fund­ing ini­tia­tives for the arts and artists have been a god­send

Financial Mail - - LIFE - Christina Kennedy

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 —

Crys­telle Wil­son

The cast of

Plat­te­land Pre­view fes­ti­val At the

Re­cov­er­ing: Robert Frid­jhon (cen­tre) with Craig Jack­son and Bron­wyn Gottwald in

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