Sunday, August 30, 2009

Response to "Patrons Support Artists on the Web" in New York Times

This weeks post is a response to an article sent to me from the New York Times. The full text can be read here. The article is about Kickstarter, a unique online donation tool for visual artists, musicians, and other aspiring individuals of the arts.

Jenna Wortham, the author of the article explains how this organization works. Through the internet artists with a project idea post their concept. They are then matched with individuals who would like to make a contribution to the proposed project, but cannot fund the entire operation. By combining their resources these donors help get the projects off the ground. The contributors are then often treated to an additional tangible gift as well. Perry Chen, one of the founders, identified his organization as a sort of marketplace of goods and services based on the arts.

I think that this concept is interesting, and without further thought, I might be tempted to sign up for donation support. But I also foresee some potential problems. Any time you open your project idea up for funding from individuals, they are then going to gain a sense of ownership to that project or idea. Their vision may not be the same as that of the artist, and they may become unsatisfied with the outcome. This could lead to arguments among the artists as well as fellow donors.

Another problem relates to the idea of intellectual property. By posting an untested idea on the internet, which is available to anyone, there is a potential for someone who has funding to steal that idea and launch it as their own. There would be no real way to prove who came up with the initial idea.

These problems aside, I think this donation concept has merit. Too often it seems that Americans are uninterested in supporting the arts and cultural development. To see a group who is actively seeking and supporting artists is gratifying. To learn more about Kickstart, click here. I'll see you next week.

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