Kickstarter To Outfund National Endowment for the Arts

shutterstock_100_dollar_bills.jpgIf you’re thinking about applying for an NEA grant, you might want to consider just doing it yourself on the Web’s favorite crowdsourcing tool, Kickstarter.

Co-Founder Yancey Strickler said today in an interview with Talking Points Memo that Kickstarter might actually crowdsource fund $150 million in 2012, which is $4 million more than the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2012 operating budget of $146 million.

Depending on where you stand, this could either be a great success for democratic crowd-sourced arts funding. Or is this just a scary realization of just how ridiculously underfunded the NEA is?

Sponsor reports that the Canadian Council for the Arts has a budget of around $181 million USD, and a population that’s one-tenth of the United States. Keep in mind that the types of projects that see funding on Kickstarter are different from those that receive money from the NEA.

For example, something like the iPod Nano multi-touch watch has received $942,578 in total; its original goal was a mere $15,000. There are 13,512 backers on this project. The Departure Game App, a video games project based in Brooklyn, New York, already surpassed its $3,000 goal, gathering a total $5,131 with 196 backers and seven days to go.

Take a stroll through some of the NEA’s recent grant recipients. The Boston Jewish Film Festival, Inc., received $10,000 and the Blue Ridge Traditional Arts, Inc. in Galax, Virginia, just got $30,000 to support traditional music programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center. Surely, there are some overlaps between the NEA and Kickstarter. Rather than pitting them side-by-side, however, it is perhaps more useful to think about them as complimenting each other.

Strickler tells TPM that the amount of money Kickstarter distributes this year is a number that they view “in both a good and a bad way.” Yes, Kickstarter can drive as much money to the arts as a federal agency, which means that more artists will have money for projects. “But maybe it shouldn’t be that way,” Strickler says, “Maybe there’s a reason for the state to strongly support the arts.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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