Crowdfunding and the Arts Community

By Simone Calbi

We are all aware of this dreadful truth: far too little funding exists for the arts. However, crowdfunding has proven to be a method to battle this phenomenon. Luckily, online platforms such as kickstarter.com can act as a light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who are itching to turn our dreams into realities but just don’t have the funds. These days it doesn’t matter in which country you were born. If you are a person involved in the arts and don’t have a trust fund, chances are you will struggle to have enough money to fully finance your creative endeavors. Once you decide to use a crowdfunding website it might be a challenge to achieve your goals and get your creative voice heard via a one and a half-minute video and 140 word explanation. I say we try not to let these bitter realities or challenges impede our chances to create and grow artistically. I say we take step back and glance at ourselves as a worldwide community of artists and musicians who are all in this together.

I thought I would shed light on a group of musicians who have chosen to use the Latin American crowdfunding platform idea.me as a way to bring their dreams and passions to life. Marcela Viciano, a singer/songwriter from Buenos Aires, Argentina told me she needed help with a video for idea.me. She knew I had graduated from film school and so I was the one to ask for advice. I learned that there is a great difference between Kickstarter videos and classic filmmaking. It’s a very beautiful difference. Kickstarter “filmmaking” is an art  in and of itself. The best part about it is the ability a Kickstarter video maker has to express themselves through humor, creativity and the most obvious- a low-budget. After all is said and done, you are asking in a nice way for money to do something you believe in.

I sat down with Marcela and we wrote a script. We fleshed out some ideas and I thought about how my filmmaking skills could be put to good use.  I pointed out how all of her trinkets and samba instruments strewn around her house tell a little story about who she is and should appear in her video. I thought about where to place Marcela in the frame when we would shoot the interview. I learned a lot about what it takes to make a great Kickstarter video. Documentary film techniques, screenwriting class, and interview Mise-en-scène are not at the top of the list. Passion, sincerity, and a good sense of humor definitely are. One of most effective parts of the clip is at the end when Marcela quotes one of the album’s producers as he jokes, “if you have a million friends and each donates one dollar you have a million dollars. We need much less. Will you help us?”

With that said, the best thing I could do for the project was translate the subtitles of the video. To me, as a foreigner living in Buenos Aires, it was special to have the chance to be like an intermediary between the Spanish/Portuguese musicians and their potential worldwide audience. Music may be a universal language that doesn’t necessarily need subtitles at all. But, by translating this short idea.me video I thought it really did feel like a way to erase the borders between us. The project, called “Musicians without Borders”, was born out of Viciano’s many travels to Brazil and endless collaboration with Brazilians through a collective of musicians called Caiubi. Through Viciano’s curiosity and love of Portuguese culture she became kind of like an Argentine portal into Brazil. She started a band dedicated to Bossa Nova and Brazilian tunes in Buenos Aires called Patuá. Also she sings in Portuguese and organizes tons of festivities in which Brazilians can perform and share their music throughout Buenos Aires.

Patuá: "Music from different times and places in Brazil" performing in Buenos Aires

What is admirable about Viciano’s project, “Musicians without Borders” is how their goal is more than just to record an album. It’s a cross cultural endeavor that will make it possible for musicians from different cities who are spread out around Brazil and Argentina to record one solid album together. As someone who loves travel and culture I am endlessly impressed when I see others taking steps to unify and collaborate, it can’t help but be reminded of truly how much determination it takes to turn dreams into realities. Especially artistic dreams, in our current world stage.  Like Viciano says in their video, “our songs demonstrate that our similarities are greater than our differences…we believe that music is a great tool to bring people together.” I hope showcasing the “Musicians without Borders” project will motivate artists around the globe and motivate anyone interested in supporting the arts to give to the universal cause to whatever capacity they can, as well as finding ways in your personal life to make dreams happen without letting financial burdens bring you down.

Links:

Donate to Musicians Without Borders on idea.me

Resources:

List of Crowd Funding Websites, and Websites to Find Investors (worldwide)

The 6 Variables Behind a Kick-Ass Kickstarter Project

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4 thoughts on “Crowdfunding and the Arts Community

  1. Great post. Very inspirational. Thank you :)

    In the UK everyone is still looking to the government for arts funding. But not only is all the money running out, the government does not care about the arts. They never have… they only care to fund wars!

    We need to start funding each other. This is a much healthier attitude!

    • Thanks for your comment. I made this post in order to really shed light on what people are doing worldwide in order to battle overall lack of money for the arts. The idea is to fill our minds and hearts with motivation and a pro-active attitude. Whether or not one considers themselves an artist, we are all in this together. Lets keep focusing on these kinds of projects..lets all focus on creating and getting ourselves out there, instead of money, money, money!

  2. Wonderful piece about an idea that needs to better known. My son has successfully used Kickstarter to help him with two of his projects. So glad it is happening in other coutries as well.

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