Crowdsourcing your theatre production
It should be a known fact that government funding for the arts is dwindling. Theatre companies are hurting. Options range from increasing ticket prices, to producing less expensive productions, or fundraising. Crowdfunding engines like Kickstarter are based on the concept that many small donations can add up to a lot of money. People pledge what they can, and only if the project meets its entire goal within a specified time frame, does the company get any money.
Thanks to crowdfunding for a full theater production
I’ve been interested in exploring this idea as a funding concept, but crowdfunding engines like Kickstarter in the States or Fundbreak in Australia have not been available in Canada until recently. A new crowdfunding engine called IdeaVibes has just come online. I recently interviewed Kathryn Jones, a #2amt colleague from NYC. They have recently hit their goal with Kickstarter, and are moving on to produce their project, Better Left Unsaid. RC: Can you tell me a bit about your project? KJ: Better Left Unsaid is the first of its kind, interactive live streamed play. A cross between a play, an online video and a live streamed event, Better Left Unsaid will be shot with multiple cameras, mixed in real time, and streamed live to the internet so that anyone, anywhere in the world with a computer can watch the show and interact with it. The play itself is a complex roadmap of a play that begins in Central Park on a strangely warm, foggy day in November. We follow eight characters as their paths twist and turn in unexpected ways. Better Left Unsaid is a
story about how our lives are affected by the pieces of information that we choose to withhold from the people we love. Sometimes the same secret that protects one person damages another. Better Left Unsaid. 8 Lives. 8 Secrets. How well do you know the people that you love? RC: Why did you decide to go the Kickstarter route to get it produced? KJ: I have been working in online video and social media for more than four years so I have been aware of Kickstarter since the time that it launched although initially projects seemed to be raising a few thousand dollars. I thought the idea was wonderful, but the projects I was developing required more money than it seemed feasible to raise on Kickstarter. This past spring, however, I noticed that people were beginning to raise significant amounts of money on Kickstarter. When Joey and I began discussing live streaming her play Better Left Unsaid- using Kickstarter seemed like a great way to initiate our fundraising campaign. RC: How does using a crowdsourcing engine like Kickstarter affect the amount of work you have to do to fundraise? Does it make it easier, or harder? KJ: Fundraising is a ton of work and crowd sourcing didn’t lighten the load, but it did provide a platform from which to launch our campaign and stay in touch with our backers. In addition, Kickstarter’s all or nothing policy added a level of urgency to our campaign and ignited our audience with a certain level of suspense as to whether or not we would make it or not. There were a lot of people checking our Kickstarter page the last few days to see how we were doing, and a few even upped their donations as the campaign neared it’s deadline. While I don’t think we could have possibly have raised so much money in such a short period of time without Kickstarter, as the deadline to our campaign approached fundraising is basically all we did, day and night! RC: What kind of “marketing” materials did you create for your Kickstarter campaign? KJ: The first thing we did was build a web site so that people who visited us on Kickstarter could get more information if they wanted it. Then we built our facebook fan page to which we add content on a pretty regular basis. Then we created a video for our kickstarter campaign. We also created a press release and a one sheetand used all of these materials in various ways as our campaign progressed. Our video is also on YouTube
RC: To what do you attribute your successful campaign? KJ: I can’t point to any one thing that made our campaign successful, except for our determination! We used every tool (except for snail mail) at our disposal, from twitter, to personal facebook profiles, to our facebook fan page, to facebook notes, to facebook events, to phone calls, to personal emails, to mass emails, to a fund raising event at my partners house (we consolidated the donations and had one person contribute the money to our kickstarter campaign) to networking and one on one drinks. No one method was a silver bullet. Even when it started to feel impossible, we would go back to our Kickstarter page and see that 40, then 70 then 100 then 120 people had backed us and we were determined not to let all those people down, until finally we closed with 161 backers. RC: Thanks, Kathryn! Very exciting project–keep us in the loop of when the project airs, and we’ll be watching!
Crowdfunding theatre production.
Crowdfunding engines like Kickstarter are based on the concept that many small donations can add up to a lot of money. People pledge what they can, and only if the project meets its entire goal within a specified time
frame, does the company get any money.