It's also one of the hottest tickets for funding artistic endeavors small and large, at home and abroad.
Sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer digital platforms for quickly raising the kind of cash needed to open FilmScene 1, an art house cinema in downtown
"It's becoming a growing pattern for creatives of all types, whether they're making a movie or building a product or trying to open a new venue," said
"It's just becoming more and more common. It started more on the East and West coasts and has now moved into the Midwest. It's something that you see all over the place now."
On a much larger scale, actor
Crowdfunding is so popular, Merriam-Webster.com announced in May that the term is being added to its collegiate dictionary this year, along with other pop culture-meets-technology words such as "selfie," "hashtag" and "steampunk":
"crowdfunding (n., 2006): the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people especially from the online community."
Websites host fund-drive pages typically for not-for-profits, charities, small businesses and innovators' causes, allowing interested parties all over the world to donate any amount of money online toward any given project's goal.
Some campaigns are all-or-nothing, where refunds are issued if the goal isn't met, and others offer flexibility for keeping the dollars given. Administrative fees and return-on-the-dollar vary with the plans.
Most require donor incentive "rewards," ranging from bumper stickers to meet-and-greets.
All-or-nothing fell short for the
"We will try again next year, in case we were just doing it wrong, or it takes more than one campaign to catch on," festival director
The initiative lasts through July to finance the
If successful, the website will be used to fund more projects each year, to further the arts in a seven-county region.
The most wildly successful local campaign was FilmScene's Make a Scene all-or-nothing venture that sought to raise
FilmScene 1 -- the first of two such cinemas planned for downtown
The theater features 67 seats salvaged from the former Hancher building, sofa and soft seating indoors and a rooftop patio where films also can be screened.
"May was our strongest month ever," he said. "We've had over 15,000 admissions in six months, which is well ahead of what we forecast. In the month of June, we (showed) 27 feature films over 30 days.
"That's pretty ambitious, but there's so many good movies out there. Our mission is to present them as an art form and to present engaging and entertaining films to this community."
Sherburne, also a documentary filmmaker, was familiar with crowdfunding, so it seemed a natural way to reach potential donors.
"As a young arts organization, we're trying to be creative in how we reach our audience. It's a good way to make a splash, as well as to raise money to do what we needed to do," he said.
FilmScene leaders did their homework, and with meticulous planning, decided Indiegogo's "all-or-nothing" option was the way to go.
"The simple truth is that we needed it all," Sherburne said. "That was just an honest way to speak with our patrons and people that were going to help us reach our goal -- to say, 'Look, this is what it takes to open a cinema downtown, and we have to do it together.'
"It helps people work toward a common goal when they feel they can have more influence in helping you reach that goal. When it's an all-or-nothing campaign, people really seem to buy into that and want to share it with their friends and make sure everyone knows how important it is to reach that goal."
Brucemore staff members are counting on that.
They liked "the idea of fundraising in a very personal way, friend to friend, peer to peer, sharing the idea with somebody who agrees with you, and passing the word through social media," said
"This is coming at a time when we suffered a loss last year in
The work coincides with next year's 20th anniversary of the Classics at Brucemore, which Whitworth co-founded. Since then, the outdoor stage has been used for operas, children's plays and other events in the natural amphitheater near the duck pond and a majestic backdrop of soaring pine trees.
The overall project goal is
"Crowdfunding was appropriate for this particular project," Janssen said. "I don't think it's necessarily appropriate for every kind of fundraising we do or other non-profits do. But for this in particular, we wanted to be a word-of-mouth, grass-roots-rallying kind of a movement. Our success will depend on the passion of the community and the people involved with it ... .
"This approach is more personal. It allows us to reach people who were here or were impacted by (Whitworth) in terms of a regional museum. Over the decades, as people have fanned out, it is the quickest and most efficient way for us to spread the word."
Frustrated by the difficulty of raising funds outside the major studio/action picture arena, he and his business partners are in the midst of shooting a web series featuring 10 film shorts. The episodes eventually will be tied together by an overarching story, creating a movie for the indie circuit and perhaps a limited theatrical run Fowler would like to bring to
Each vignette will have different directors and crews for what is essentially a marriage of romanticism and fantasy. Using two-day shoots, it's easier for producers to find actors and crews able to make run-out commitments.
Fowler said the movie likely will cost about
To reach that goal, he and his partners seek to raise
"Every dollar will make a difference," they say at www.indiegogo.com/projects/love-meet-hope
"The Internet and the age of digital are both a blessing and a curse," Fowler said in a phone interview from a family trip to
"But unfortunately, funding-wise, because of the digital age, there's so many (moviemakers) out there who haven't studied any writing, they haven't studied any acting. They're flooding the market with terrible products, and so it makes it harder and harder to get good work out there. It's a double-edged sword, really."
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