There are many different crowd funding models popping up around Europe right now. Most of them are clearly inspired by Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but some of them differ in from the “standard”. In this article we meet Ed Whiting founder of WeDidThis.org a UK base crowd funding system.
Launched about 8 weeks ago WeDidThis currently attracts 2000 visitors per week in the UK. The platform has an unusual purpose among crowd funding system, in that it currently concentrates on crowd funding of initiatives from cultural institutions (although plans to expand to include individual artists soon). As the cultural sector of the UK is experiencing tough cuts it might become an important extra income. But for Whiting it seems to be other interests behind the initiative. He sees the open funding processes as a way to invite the audience in the cultural creation and he thinks this will be well received by citizens
“I think arts audiences in the UK would respond really well to the offer to be integrated in art, to be part of it.”
What kind of incentives is there for people to participate in this work?
“I think it is important not to focus not just on merchandising- there are so much more value created by the arts and the creative process. Think for example of the value to sit in on a rehearsal. Could the institutions work with common creative’s as incentives.”
Now there are eleven projects on your site. What are the reactions from the institutions like?
“This is a cultural shift. Few of the institutions participating in our pilot have asked for money in this way before. Some have been very positive and doing actions everyday and have created a big audience. Even those who have not done so well so far I think have got a lot out of the experience, since the process of being on WeDidThis.org.uk has forced the institution to open itself up to existing and new audiences and supporters.”
What cultural institutions have it easier?
“It depends – whilst films and music have historically done well on crowd funding sites, I think there is huge untapped potential from cultural institutions that you would not expect to get involved in crowd funding. For example galleries, they tend to have a relatively large infrastructure of staff and volunteers, and gift shops, cafes, meeting spots where the institutions could reach potential funders. Those who have been able to integrate the resources into to the funding have the potential to do really well, but we have not yet seen any institution really make this happen through a crowd funding site. The bigger institutions that we have talked with so far have liked the model, but they inevitably find it difficult to integrate crowd funding with their existing fundraising, and it will take time.”
What do you see as the benefits of being on WeDidThis?
“First of all I see this as more then fundraising. It is a way to relate fundraising right back to the participating artist or organisation’s mission and to their art. The artistic identity remains or get strengthened by this process and you get an insight in how valuable the artistic work can be to its audiences. At the same time it gives a great third party validation – if you have 150 investors behind you, that could be really valuable in opening things up for other sources of funds.”
Except from integrating the existing resources what does the institution have to do?
“They have to make a compelling offer, rewards that are much more then just “like me”. Then you have to articulate this offer and offer some form of conversation with their funders and supporters, in a way that is easily spreadable.”
COMPETITIVE EDGE DEPENDS ON PAN-EUROPEAN THINKING
There is an inspiring creativity going on in the field of modelling crowd funding. We will hopefully see many initiatives over the coming years. Exactly what will happen is of course only up for speculations but some things we can know.
Regulatory frameworks will always affect design. It does not matter if it is taxation of land that pushes creativity within architecture or if it is national taxation laws that pushes idea generation around crowd funding systems.
Even though that there has been a homogenization of regulation in Europe due to EU there are still many unique national verities. I guess this will generate a large number of innovations the up coming years all claiming that they are solving some specific national issue. Is this good or bad? From my point of view it is kind of bad since all these models are sensitive to scale. But if we want to have a competitive edge in this industry, that is dependent on big amounts of micro transactions, we will need to see a consolidation to a pan-European thinking around the modelling and implementation or there will be many small not for profit initiatives around never really taking off.