How does ‘friend’ funding become crowdfunding?

In Features, London theatre, Opinion, Regional theatre by Chris GradyLeave a Comment

I’m working with two crowdfunding campaigns as an Ambassador for Phundee, the new platform kids on the block, and advising others on the challenges they face setting out their appeal for funders. There is a problem, and I do believe there could be a solution.

I am sure the owners of Playpen Productions will not mind me saying that their 28 day campaign has been tough. They are 60% towards their £5k target with a week to go, and they need all the help they can to reach out to people that they don’t know.   Their campaign is appealing. A first UK professional revival of a stunning musical theatre piece by Michael John LaChuisa – Hello Again. And the money raised is to ensure that the actors get paid a proper hourly rate, according to best practice on the Fringe, rather than be on no-profit-share. Needless to say the director, designer, and other creative people who are making this show have accepted that this is not going to make them any money. For them it is a calling card to larger productions, maybe an extension of this production, and a way to excite people about Playpen Productions.

If you believe actors should be paid, and you can afford to get involved with £20-£50-more donation, then please help.

The problem for these campaigns by young companies made up of people without rich contacts and wide-ranging networks, is that they don’t know many people who can help with £50. Friends, family, and ex-teachers get exhausted very quickly. Surely this is where the crowdfunding companies could make a difference.

There are, I am sure, hundreds of people across London and across the UK who enjoy theatre (or in this case musical theatre) and expect to pay £50 for an evening out, or a treat for themselves. As I walk around the google-towers land of Old Street I see people in very well cut suits, sipping very large glasses of wine, and talking loudly into one or two of their phones. At least some of them would, I feel sure, be excited to help a young commercially minded start-up theatre company. But Playpen and other small companies don’t know how to reach these networks.   My appeal to Phundee and others is to tackle that issue, and then crowfunding will become really exciting.

I was saddened to find that trying my semi-retired much-richer-than-I-am mates doesn’t work. All 6 of them said no to £50 (or less). Why can I, on 1/10th and in at least one case a 1/100th of their earnings, be able to find small donations to creative projects, and they can’t. But they’d still buy a couple of £50 tickets for a show.   Interestingly, when I put the word around some of my freelance networking colleagues, most of whom are sole traders like myself, I got a better reaction to the idea of supporting artistic endeavors.

Anyone entering the crowdfunding arena needs to be aware of this challenge. Phundee suggest that you need to reach 30% of your target within the first week to feel confident of reaching 80-100% within a month. To do that you need to have a good list of warm-names who will not be averse to supporting you.

Whether you have a campaign ready to go, or not, now is a good time to start your warm list. Who were you at school with who went into a real job? Who do your family know who are not impoverished artists? What local business networks could you infiltrate with the idea? And finally does your crowdfunding platform have a growing network of business entrepreneurs and warm hearted donors to help with your fundraising?.

When it works it is wonderfully enriching, building a new group of advocates for your artistry. When it sticks it is tough to shift it.   Hopefully Phundee will help Playpen Productions reach, at least, 70% of their target, by reaching out to its entrepreneurial besuited start-up colleagues in hubs and offices around Old Street.

Can you help ??  And do book to see the show at Hope Theatre in Islington which is one of the pioneer small houses in London to expect actors to be paid.

 

 

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Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.
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Chris Grady on RssChris Grady on Twitter
Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.

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