Originally written for ArtsProfessional
Due to the recent wave of cuts, there is increasing competition for financial support at all levels of the arts. Consequently, pressure is building on already limited pots of funding. So, what other options exist for those of us looking to survive? ‘Philanthropy’ is the buzzword being thrown around at present, but this can be a daunting prospect for many smaller companies, as they have limited time and resources to forge new relationships, and are unable to employ staff to specialise in fundraising.
However, there is a variation on the theme which is proving much more accessible to those of us at the thin end of the wedge: crowdfunding, a model which continues to grow in the UK. Crowdfunding enables companies to harness the power of the Internet to draw attention to their project and attract potential funders. With websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo having proved successful in helping companies in the US to secure funding, the opportunity has now arisen for companies like Box of Tricks to reap the benefits on these shores.
In the past philanthropic fundraising for Box of Tricks’s productions has been restricted to approaching people with whom we have already established a relationship. Without the means to identify and approach new donors we have relied largely on the kindness of this select group of people to help us develop our work.
Box of Tricks has therefore embraced crowdfunding for our next production, ‘Word:Play 4’ at the new Arcola Theatre, on WeFund, a website which allows us to use video, blogs and a dedicated webpage to appeal to potential donors and explain what their support brings to our work. WeFund incentivises philanthropy by enabling companies to offer ‘perks’ for pledges, from complimentary tickets to behind-the-scenes access. Through allowing supporters to see how we work, and involving them in the process, we not only help finance our current project but also look to build personal, long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with donors.
Having only been active for a few weeks, our WeFund project is well on its way to reaching its target. This is easing the pressure on fundraising, and enabling us to focus more on the creative side of our work. We are confident that the benefits of crowdfunding will ensure it is a model we continue to use in the future to help us stage the next generation of new writing.