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CrowdFunding- We’re All in this Together

CrowdFunding- We’re All in this Together

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Apr 12, 2011
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05/12/2014

 
CrowdFunding- We
re All in this Together
By: Julie Robinson, April 10,2011In these times of economic hardship, certainareas are suffering the consequences of our
country’s vast debt: university fees are
rising to the point where many cannotafford the cost of an education; our soldiersare fighting a war without the equipmentthey need and a plague of budget cuts aresweeping through the institutions of oursociety
– 
including the Arts sector.Despite the efforts made, protesting againstthe oncoming storm could not prevent thedark clouds from gathering and rainingdown funding cuts upon the land. Dozens of companies lost all funding from the Arts Council and many had their applications acceptedon a stand-still funding basis which, under the circumstances, led them to thank God forsmall mercies.
For the ‘little guys’ in the Arts world, the Budget announcements spelled disaster; only
exacerbating the issue with theatre investors and producers who were already reluctant totake a chance on new, unknown work in the tense economical situation we currently findourselves in. The profit assurances of jukebox musicals, the importation of ascertainedBroadway hits and revivals of old familiar favourites in the realm of theatre being favouredover developing new names and writing is a topic that has been visited before, and relatesto this matter rather aptly. If there is nobody willing to provide opportunities for newworks and writers, and no funding available for them to do so themselves, what options are
left? The answer to that may well be the rising emergence of ‘crowd funding’.
 A relatively new idea in theatre circles, crowd funding is an online platform for creativeprojects in a range of areas, such as theatre, film and music; allowing the people behindthem to pitch their project and ask for support in the form of funding. Rather thanrequesting large amounts of money from a small group of backers, crowd funding sitessuch asIndiegogo.com, WeDidThis.org.uk andWeFund.co.uk provide the occasion for a
 
large amount of people to pledge small amount of money, offering rewards in return, suchas complimentary tickets, signed programmes and named credit as a sponsor. As WeFundstate on their site, the practice of crowd funding is n
ot charity or investment, ‘it’s
patronage, but on a micro-
scale’.
 So what are the benefits of sites like WeFund? Well, the most obvious one would be that itallows for the securing of funds for new theatre writers who would otherwise struggle toget their work shown. They can raise enough to cover the cost of staging a modestproduction, which may hopefully lead to industry backing and an extended run or tour.Another benefit is that anyone can apply. Attempting to pitch unknown work from anunknown name is a cause without much hope, if indeed a pitching opportunity can beattained at all! Crowd funding is not an assumed certainty of success by any means, but theopportunity is there for all and that is the crucial point; a project can be judged andrewarded for its innovation rather than its marketability and profit margin.The main benefit however, becomes clear when looked at from the long-term perspective.Funding aside, the success of a writer or a piece of work rests on the amount of supportand awareness it raises
– 
crowd funding is a unique and effective method of achieving this.It allows theatre-goers and supporters of new writing to work together with the Art world;being a part of the creative process makes them feel involved and creates a strong and loyalrelationship.Crowd funding also provides the chance for people to decide what they would like to see,which works in their favour as choice is a valued desire in life, but also works in favour of the project team who can use the funding support as evidence of backing of their work
– 
 
after all, people aren’t going to give money to a production they don’t want to see!
 Naturally, as with everything in life, crowd funding has its downside too, beginning withone of its previous benefits: choice. Yes, people can choose which work they would like tosee and yes, it is great for the writer if they choose to see his/her work
– 
but what if they
don’t? As I mentioned before, crowd funding does not guarantee success. There are a vast
number of projects out there that need financial support and not enough money to goround them all. Most crowd funding sites operate on a threshold pledge system, which
basically means that if a project doesn’t meet its funding target then all the money that was
pledged is returned and they receive nothing.Other problems, such as idea theft, can also arise. Crowd funding as a regular means of 
funding work can, while being an effective tool at first use, result in ‘donor fatigue’, with
patrons coming to find the constant requests rather tedious. All of these are moot points
however, if people don’t KNOW about the crowd funding sites! With the immense overload
 
of sites on the Web, getting people to visit one in particular can be a mammoth task; onewhich if unachieved, means no one will be even looking at your project, let aloneconsidering donating money for it. Therefore, the importance of getting the word out thereis not to be underestimated.That being said though, the power of the internet is staggering, and if it can be put topositive use then great things can be accomplished.One project which is putting that power to the test is thepremiere production of THE PORK CRUNCK anintensely fast darkly comic contemporary three hander byAdam Hunter, directed by Simon Greiff, and starringMia Austen, Adam Hunter & Roger Woods. Mr Greiff,whose production company SimG Productions is workingwith Wighton St Production on the project, described the
play as, ‘a 90 minute rollercoaster of drugs, desperationand desire … and the kidnapping of a £3000 fish’!
 It has been a two-year collaboration between AndyHunter, Simon Greiff and Roger Woods. Australian actorand writer Andy Hunter, is an up-and-coming playwrightwho has done an array of stage and TV work and haswritten workshops, as well as co-founding The LimelightActing School for teenagers. Roger Woods is an actor whotook part in the STRIKING 12 production at the Waterloo East Theatre in December2010: a production that Simon Greiff also worked on as the director. A prior article of mine made mention of Simon Greiff as an advocate of the development of new writing, andthis is yet another example of his continuing support
– 
here Mr Greiff speaks about hisinvolvement in THE PORK CRUNCH;I have been involved with the play for nearly two years, having directed a public RehearsedReading at the Brockley Jack last year, and continuing to help develop the script with thewriter, with every intention of seeing it through to a full production. Adam recentlysubmitted the play to various producing houses, but felt that if it was to be given a chanceto be seen this year (as opposed to waiting for a theatre to find a space in its season) thenwe should get the play on ourselves. I think Adam is a very talented playwright, I believe inthis play, and I really wanted to direct it
!”
 

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