For those that may be unfamiliar, Kickstarter is a website, "changing how millions of people around the world connect" creatively. Kickstarter is a "crowd-sourcing" way to fund projects in art, comedy, dance, design, fashion, film & video, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater. If you can dream it...the funding you may receive from a Kickstarter project can help you achieve it. It's a 21st century version of patronage on steroids.
Throughout history, particularly during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, rulers and the aristocracy sponsored the work of musicians, artists, and sculptors. Patronage built the many of the world's great cathedrals and temples. It funded much of the art and sculpture we now consider priceless and masterpieces. History credits the Medici's of Florence as being generous patrons. Michangelo, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Beethoven all benefited from the sponsorship of the wealthy to create their art.
Kickstarter utilizes the vast communication network of the internet and social media to unite artists with those who choose to sponsor their work. These sponsors pledge funding to a particular project. They are only required to fulfill their pledges if the project attains the full amount of funding requested within a set period of time. In return, sponsors receive predetermined premiums or gifts based on the amount of their contribution. These contributions can be as small as $5.00. No longer are benefactors just the rich. The creative community benefits by presenting their ideas to larger numbers of "everyday" people to achieve the financial support necessary to complete their project. Sponsors benefit in knowing they contributed to something greater than themselves and sometimes are provided opportunities they may never have had the ability to experience.
On July 22, 2013, the legendary, award-winning Writer, Director, Producer, and Actor, Spike Lee, presented his request for the funding of his latest "Joint." This has caused an uproar among many in the creative community and beyond. The major gripe concerns why he would make such a request when someone of his means could easily fund this project himself. As of the publishing of this blog, Spike is nearly at 60% of the goal with roughly half the time remaining to achieve it.
The newest hottest Spike Lee joint
I would like to thank Spike Lee for his continued contributions to the world of film and support of the arts. I would contend, as a result of this controversy, more people now know about Kickstarter. There have been numerous stories broadcast, published, and distributed by just about every major and minor news media outlet, from the network news and Variety to LinkedIn and the blogosphere, concerning Spike Lee's request via this "crowd-sourcing" venue. As a result, the "crowd" is now larger and hopefully a greater "source" of funding for all types of projects. Spike's request has increased public awareness of Kickstarter, and in turn, created greater opportunity for both funders and fundees. How many more Google searches has Kickstarter shown up in since his request? Have the number of projects seeking funding increased? Has the number of funders and amount of funding increased? Instead of criticizing Spike Lee, perhaps the indie crowd should be thanking him for his pro-bono celebrity endorsement of Kickstarter.