The current economic climate is forcing artists and not-for-profit artist-run centres to come up innovative new funding strategies.
One of these is FEAST (Funding Emerging Artists with Sustainable Tactics).
FEAST is a recurring public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund new and emerging artmakers. Originally based in Brooklyn, many other micro-funding community dinners that use a similar funding structure have been popping up across North America.
Before each event, the FEAST organizers collect proposals by local artists for projects that are intended as positive community interventions. At each FEAST event, participants and invited community members pay a sliding-scale entrance fee for which they will receive supper and a ballot. The selected artists then present their proposed project ideas over diner. Diners then vote on the artist projects they would like to fund. At the end of dinner, the artist whose proposal receives the most votes will be awarded funds collected through the entrance fee to produce the project. The result is the availability of small cash awards for individuals or small organizations not eligible for funding through more traditional routes.
Another innovative new funding strategy is Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com). Kickstarter is an online fundraising tool, in association with Amazon.com, that allows users to solicit individual donations from friends, family and just about anyone who knows the website exists.
Any artist or arts organization is able to upload a proposed project to Kickstarter, then market the project to their friends and networks. Reminiscent of the success of the Obama/Biden Campaign of 2008, a project becomes successful through widespread solicitation of smaller donations using online media. The result is a streamlined individual giving campaign with minimal effort but with potential to fill that funding gap many arts organizations experience.