Updated: Monday, 16th September 2019 @ 5:20pm

Crowdfunding: Artists go all or nothing on Dragon’s Den-style websites after cuts to funding

Crowdfunding: Artists go all or nothing on Dragon’s Den-style websites after cuts to funding

By Richard O’Meara

Budding Manchester-based artists are taking their work to Crowdfunding websites allowing their projects to be created and funded in an online Dragon’s Den arena.

Crowdfunding allows anyone to create a project via the web, set a monetary goal needed to bring the idea into fruition and fix a brief window of time in which to do so. After that it’s up to the public to decide which projects they like best, and pledge as much as they feel appropriate towards them.

With an eight per cent cut to Arts Council funding in the last budget and the disproportionate amount of backing given to projects in the capital, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and similar sites are becoming the go-to site for artistic people to pitch their ideas.

Bolton based photographer James Hargreaves, 28, said: “I decided to use Crowdfunding because it gives everyone an equal and fair chance to pitch their idea.

“You’re asking for large amounts of funding in a short period of time, the downside is not all ideas get funded.”

Whilst competition is high there have been scores of huge Crowdfunding successes.

The Ouya games console for started life as a Kickstarter project whilst legendary Hip-Hop group Public Enemy looked to their fans to fund a new album after leaving their record label

Creators of a ground breaking 3D printer received a staggering $3million to fund the technology and fans of scientist Nikola Tesla also raised $1million to build a museum in his honour.

James’ monetary aim is slightly less ambitious; he’s only asking for £1,000 to create gallery standard prints to exhibit in Manchester. His desire to succeed however is just as lofty.  

James said: “Photography has always been my number one passion; Crowdfunding is letting me show it to a whole new group of people, it’s really exciting.”

With Manchester’s arts resources slashed by £390,000 this year, the process for artists to fund their work has been made even trickier.

James said: “I don't feel there is anywhere near enough help, guidance or financial support to aspiring artists in the region.”

No other area in Britain receives anything close to the £21.33 per head Arts Council funding in London, the closest being the West Midlands which receives only £8.22 per head.

Philanthropic assistance is also not reaching artists in Manchester as easily as in the capital. London artists received more than two thirds of private donations handed out last year.

Sculptor Kimberly Voperian, 26, on the other hand is using her Kickstarter project to relocate to Manchester and show the city her work. The Florida resident is hoping to raise just under £1,000 to provide living and travel expenses whilst she is a resident at the city centre based ArtFunkl project.

Kimberly said: “With the way social media has taken over the internet Crowdfunding is becoming one solid way of getting your art out there.”

If she reaches her goal, Kimberly will be jetting from sunny Florida to Manchester at the end of the month. The use of Crowdfunding to help make her trip around the world possible is perhaps fitting in that anyone with an internet connection, in any country on earth can help make it happen.

Kimberly said: “My friends, family, and total strangers can become part of my artistic process and share the rewards in a very tangible way.” 

Refusing to be held back by regional inequality or even living on another continent, James, Kimberly and others are using Crowdfunding to make their dreams of showing Manchester what they are passionate about a reality.

As she continues to prepare for her move across the pond Kimberly excitedly told me: “I think putting faith in small or large projects through Crowdfunding is a way to take a stand and help the dreamers make the awesome achievable.”

You can view James, Kimberly and other Manchester based Kickstarter projects here.

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