By Jane Ayres
Last year, I attempted my biggest challenge – launching my first ever crowdfunding campaign for a music and dance event in Kent. I’ve been excited by the idea of crowdfunding for a long time – ever since I attended a workshop by the fantastic Crista Cloutier. If your project is hard to categorise, or getting funding through the usual channels isn’t working, than crowdfunding is a way to approach your audience directly.
Like many enthusiastic fundraisers, I was seduced by success stories of other individuals and arts groups, and keen to try it myself. I can honestly say it is way harder than I imagined!
I went to a Fundraisers Bootcamp last month and it was perhaps reassuring in an odd way to learn that not everyone reaches their target and that it really is as tough as I am finding it. It’s been a steep learning curve – luckily I love learning! It took months to construct the crowdfunding page to get it right, and then we promptly ignored advice about how to do the video trailer. Instead, after several takes of unsuccessful talking heads, we opted to let the music – and dance – do the talking for us. Whether or not that worked is for you to decide.
I spent ages trying to create some unique, personalised and, frankly, lovely rewards for supporters – ranging from signed first pages of the new scores, to tickets for the concerts, to a chance to meet all the cast after the shows. All supporters will get credits in the special souvenir programme.
The bit of the process I find most difficult (and this is going to sound a bit strange) is asking people to give money. I quickly realised that I really don’t like doing this! The lovely folk at the Fundraising Bootcamp pointed out that people can only say No, and would I mind if I was asked to support a crowdfunding arts project? Of course not. But has that made it any easier? Not really. Why is it so tough to ask for help? I don’t know the answer to that.
But I do know I am passionate about the project I am fundraising for, and that all the rules of fundraising equally apply to crowdfunding. It isn’t a magic solution to raising money. However, it is a brilliant tool for communicating a fab project to a lot of people – with the hope that it will connect enough for people to want to share it with others.
So what are we doing it for? In a nutshell, the The Mirabai Project is a labour of love – a not for profit collective, with ambitious plans to stage innovative events that combine music, dance, design, film and new technology.
Chrysanthemums is our first event – an intriguing semi-staged concert with string quartet, harp, sax and 3 female voices – and special guests Elena Velasco-Peña and Luis Rodriguez, dazzling Argentine Tango dancers. This is our first collaboration with the young Canterbury based Leon String Quartet. Established in 2010, they are dynamic and versatile, with a wide repertoire and commitment to new music and innovative collaborations. Joining them are award winning musicians that include harpist Ruby Aspinall, sopranos Elizabeth Fulleylove and Gabriela Di Laccio, and Kent saxophonist Richard Melkonian.
The first show includes two world premieres. Award-winning composer Barry Seaman’s haunting Torch Songs is written for harpist Ruby Aspinall, and is inspired by songs about love, loss and friendship. Singer/songwriter Mariam Al-Roubi will be performing All Things – songs inspired by her forthcoming album, arranged for string quartet and harp.
There will also be sensual and romantic music from composers that include Monteverdi, Puccini, Caplet, Philip Glass, and new arrangements of tangos by Piazzolla and Gardel.
Chrysanthemums will initially be performed as follows:
Friday 17th April 2015, 8pm at the Trinity Arts Centre, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Tuesday 21 April 2015, 7.30pm at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury, Kent
If you want to be instrumental (pun intended) in both the creation and performance of beautiful music and know that your contribution and vision made it happen, please check our link.
The crowdfunding campaign ends on 2nd February 2015 – so we now have less than a month to achieve our target of £2590 (eek!). To date we have 5 backers and have raised £425 towards commissioning new work, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported us this far.
Any contribution would be welcomed. (See, I kind of asked!) But whether or not you can donate, I’d be truly grateful if you could share the link via social media and help to spread the word – and we sincerely hope you will come to the concerts! Thank you!
Photo from Mirabai, Barry Seaman