Crowdfunding Chrysanthemums

postcard

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.

http://www.sponsume.com/project/mirabai-project-presents-chrysanthemums

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!

Related posts:

https://creatabot.co.uk/2012/11/01/garrets-and-gatekeepers-by-jane-ayres/

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/06/30/crista-cloutier-the-video-all-creatives-need-to-see/

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/03/20/what-you-need-to-know-about-crowdfunding-by-crista-cloutier/

Links:

http://artsfundraising.org.uk/training/

http://www.fundraising.co.uk/

 Photo from Mirabai, Barry Seaman

A Medway Vision 7 – Broken Genius

What’s in a name?  A mask?  Identity?  Hailing from Rainham, Medway musician and painter Lupen Crook is, quite simply, captivating.   Lupen Crook is not his real name of course.  It’s Matthew Pritchard.  But, if it’s a story about being driven to create that compels you – the Medway Vision if you will, then Lupen Crook is all we need to know about.

Lupen Crook is a prolific painter and musician.  Oh, and his makes his own animated music videos too.  Flirting with fame and being one of the NME darlings for a while, he is one of the jewels in Medway’s creative crown.    But if it wasn’t for that name change it might never have happened.  Lupen explains his early days, “I played with Chris Garth (now of UPCDOWNC).  Later, when the Tap n Tin hey-day was in full swing I was performing initially with Bonzai Reservoir (whose members included Chris Austin of Tape Error), and when that imploded I started out as Lupen Crook.”  It was this ‘implosion’ that began a new chapter and it was here that his artwork also took root, having to cobble together band posters with little materials or money, and the same went for his DIY album releases.  Lupen Crook became an artist just trying to do the best with whatever was to hand.

Initially signed to the Tap n Tin label, the EP ‘Petals Fresh From Road Kill’ was released as 500 vinyls all with hand-painted sleeves. In true independent style, he has since self-released via his own label Beast Reality, the most recent being 2011’s ‘Waiting For  The Post-Man’.   Describing the process Crook states, “Beast Reality started out much the same way as everything else, having no one else to do it for me, so I did it myself. My good friend, web-designer and writer Stuart Hardy ended up getting on board and together we’ve honed the self-release approach over the last few years, experimenting with each release and thinking on our feet.”  It might have worked out differently.  In 2005, NME got behind Lupen Crook and featured him on their 2005 Cool List compilation.  A star was surely born?  Well, yes and no.  Lupen decided to go it alone.  Using his own record label, using his own vision.  Fame eluded him but his art was intact.

Lupen Crooks’ music defies category.  How many times does an artist say that their work doesn’t fall into a musical category, only for you to listen to it and then realise that it’s about as generic as a Rom-Com.  Lupen breaks the mould.  Try as I might there is no chance of me being able to tell you what ‘category’ his music fits into.  Take his latest album, ‘Waiting for The Post-Man’  It starts off sounding like Bowie, takes a strange neo-gothic u-turn, shuffles about near the area labeled ‘folk’, then heads off to 80’s electronics before getting all World Party-ish with it’s pop melancholia.  If there is one thing I could describe it as, it’s just singer/songwriter pop.  Brilliant pop.  Rarely have I heard the sound of a record with so many tunes on it not to have hits.  But then maybe that’s part of the problem.  The record industry does like its categories and my guess is Lupen Crook’s genius for writing from the hip will be admired for a long time without anybody actually being able to pin his sound down and sell it.  Lupen confesses,  “musically, it’s eclectic. They are folk songs in the sense they are stories, but then it has always felt very punk in spirit. Basically, it’s free.”

As for his paintings, they capture an essence of Medway as much as the music and lyrics.  They show the beauty and majesty of Medway but always with the knowledge that the heartbeat of these Towns is often the rough-around-the-edges social chaos that we so often see on a Saturday night.  Looking at his paintings I keep thinking of something he said and it makes sense; “my influences have always been my surroundings – people, places, shapes, sounds – the mistakes I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt, the things that have hurt me – everything that makes an impression on me inevitably ends up becoming an influence.”  As an artist I understand that, as a fan of music and painting I can see that ethos clearly in his work.

Last year Lupen had exhibitions of his artwork in London and Medway (at Rochester’s Deaf Cat Café). This year he is continuing to paint, although he does promise that there are some new musical projects in the pipeline. While Lupen is holed up creating we can catch a glimpse of his work in and around the Towns.  Currently Nucleus Art Gallery in Rochester is exhibiting his work. Aside from that, he is performing a one-off gig at London’s The Borderline on 9th June supporting Jim Bob from CARTER USM and the video he made for the song ‘Chasing Dragons’ is set to be shown at London’s Progressive Art Centre. The show is called ‘DIY POP VIDIO’ and it’s being curated by Medway artist, poet and musician Sexton Ming.

Where next for Lupen Crook?  When you have come this far down the road, when you have worked hard to create the output of ‘Lupen Crook’, where does the next stage take him?  “As for actual goals in my life, keeping my head above water and the wolves from my door whilst continuing to create things; be that music, art, videos – whatever feels inspiring at the time.”  Listening to Lupen Crook, you get the impression that these sounds could ONLY have been written in and about Medway.  His paintings, the same.  If any artist can be classed as the ‘voice’ of Medway’s dark underbelly then Lupen Crook is surely it.

Lupen Crook plays The Borderline, London on the Saturday 9th June supporting Jim Bob from Carter USM.  Tickets £12 http://theborderline.co.uk/listings/date/2012/6/9/

‘Waiting for the Post-Man’ is out now on Beast Reality Records priced £10  http://www.lupencrook.com/

For more information about Lupen Crook’s paintings visit:  http://www.brokenarts.co.uk/

Mr Young

Independent Filmmaker

www.themoontheeye.co.uk

www.twitter.com/Mr_Young

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