On Thursday night we celebrated the launch of wedidthis.org.uk, a new crowdfunding platform supporting UK arts organisations, allowing them to reach out to their audiences and supporters for funding and bringing together large numbers of small donations. Since opening the site at the end of January, we have launched eight exciting projects – from new work by a Turner prize-nominated artist, to a "sustainable dance floor" powered by the energy of its dancers, and the opportunity to support new visual artists to create their first professional work. We have many more projects in the pipeline. It's been an exhilarating first few weeks for us, with more than £5,500 raised for the arts projects on WeDidThis so far, and an average of 2,000 unique visits to the site each week, half of which have been new visitors. It's a good start, but we know we have a long way to go. We have also learned about the culture shift that we must deliver across the arts sector. We must build and strengthen the "culture of asking", which will be so vital for the sector's future. Directly asking large numbers of individuals for funding in this way is a new experience for many arts organisations – but it is also a great way for organisations to raise awareness and support for their art, so is an opportunity that goes far beyond funding. And it's already happening. For example, well over half of those backing Classical Opera Company's WeDidThis project (which has so far raised nearly £4,000 of their £10,000 goal) to date are individuals previously unknown to the company. We must build on this. However, though the need for new arts funding is pressing, and the new funds being raised through WeDidThis are vital, at the heart of the new culture that we must create is a two-way conversation between arts organisations and individuals that is about much more than a donation of funds. We want to build the next generation of arts philanthropists by offering everyone who funds a project on WeDidThis a reward which brings them closer to the arts and culture they are funding, building their loyalty to the organisation. As well as the immediate difference that the "crowd" can make to arts projects, this will encourage today's micro-philanthropist to become tomorrow's "big giver", making supporting art a more widespread part of everyone's civic life. We believe that relationships that start with a very small donation and a relatively simple reward can grow to enrich both the creative and financial resilience of the arts sector, and the cultural lives and experiences of those who give to it. This will take time, and there will be both successes and failures along the way. But there's a real opportunity here to close some of the disparities that currently exist between popular enthusiasm and support for the arts, and the financial contribution that individuals make. Although only 2% of "everyday givers" currently give to the arts, 22% of adults say that cultural events and arts are an "essential" part of their lives and research has shown that individuals' willingness to pay for art is likely to outstrip the public subsidy enjoyed by arts institutions.
Similarly, although more than half of the online population have used the internet to engage with the arts and cultural sector and while 58% of adults shop online, only 7% give online. We are already taking practical steps to close these gaps – for instance, WeDidThis is bridging the divide between the online shopping and donating experience by offering shoppers the opportunity to become philanthropists at the same time, through hosting each WeDidThis project reward on culturelabel.com, an online gift shop featuring products from a wide range of galleries and cultural institutions. So, what's next? For WeDidThis, the next few months will include: • Extending our offer to businesses, creating an entirely new opportunity for companies to give their employees individual and enriching cultural experiences and in so doing make a real difference to make great happen • 20 more arts projects to grow our "big ideas" marketplace, with exciting projects and compelling rewards launching every week • A new "pop-up" marketplace to support individual artists to fill the UK's empty public spaces with art And much more. Finally, I'd like to make two appeals. The first is to anyone who knows of organisations creating great art, whose existence is threatened by funding cuts. Let's build a movement to save these organisations and projects, by reaching out to everyone whose lives can be enriched by the art that they create. If you know, or are part of, any of these organisations and projects, please do get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org. My second appeal is to other crowdfunding sites, of which there are an encouraging and growing number. The growth of this movement is truly exciting and can bring about a profound social transformation. We each have something distinct and different to offer, and the evolution of our identities and brands will help us all understand how we can make this happen. But I believe that we will achieve more if we collaborate as well as compete. So I'd like to invite others who want the same things that we do to work together with us to create a "People's Cultural Olympiad" of projects funded through each of our sites but promoted as a group, that will give everyone the opportunity to create and fund a great arts or cultural project as the Olympics approaches. Our motto is "art for everyone, funded by everyone", and we mean it. Who's with us? Guest blog by Ed Whiting: WeDidThis, our new crowdfunding site for the arts, has launched some exciting projects. Now we want to build on the 'culture of asking'
Art is being slowly replaced by a list of activities and gadgets that compete for the space and funding in today's society. WeDidThis is a crowdfunding website that hopes to change the perception that the world has about art by giving upcoming art projects the chance to reach interested art lovers through the funs gathered from enthusiasts.
WeDidThis is a crowdfunding platform with the right move in the right direction so to speak. The hundreds of dollars that have been cut from art projects have crippled the development of many artistic expressions that are slowly being replaced by other activities and items. If the website is successful in awakening the importance of art in the heart of the online community and genuine enough to win their trust to secure funding, then this may be the solution that hundreds of artists worldwide will need to take their projects to the next level.