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Fund it—Matching Creativity with Cash

Fund it supporting individual giving to the creative sector

Alan McDonnell
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 15, 2012 Last Updated: November 15, 2012
Related articles: Ireland » National
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SWEETEST WORDS: Cake Café created a book which was funded on the site, and they baked some cookies to thank their funders (Fund it)

SWEETEST WORDS: Cake Café created a book which was funded on the site, and they baked some cookies to thank their funders (Fund it)

Fund it is an Irish-based initiative to help people with creative ideas to win funding from “friends, fans and followers” across the world.

A variation of the crowd-funding platforms that have sprung up on the internet in the last ten years to fund everything from high-tech start-ups to rock bands, Fund it serves as a platform for creative Irish people to present their ideas and concepts to others, while providing people from all over the world with a simple ‘shop window’ where they can support worthy projects in areas from art, craft and design to fashion, film and food. Budding musicians can showcase their talent and, at the same time, raising the funds they need to record a debut album or travel to a music festival, while creative scientific and technical projects, such as drinking water treatment plants for third world countries, have also been funded on the site.

Funding Community art in Dublin

Landscape architect, gardener and artist Sophie von Maltzan is the Director of Fieldwork & Strategies, working with people and land to create art and landscapes. Her ‘Art Tunnel Smithfield’ Fund it project sought financial support to create a contemporary installation and community art beside the LUAS line in Smithfield—and all on a strip of wasteland. While work commenced on the site, a large billboard there appealed to LUAS passengers to help support the project on Fund it, and the response was very positive.

“For most artists, and when I funded projects before, it tended to be friends who would contact me and ask for support on Fund it. For us, we had, in the LUAS line, this amazing public window where we could actually show it to the public, the passers-by, the commuters, people walking. So 80 per cent of the funders I actually didn’t know—the rest were personal acquaintances of mine,” said Ms von Maltzan.

“Currently, there isn’t any other avenue to tap into that public stream. Of course there’s the Arts Council funding scheme too. I do have to say that we got a lot of hands-on support from Dublin City Council, which wouldn’t have been money, but rather machinery and man-hours of highly-skilled labourers. We also had corporate sponsors, such as Bulmers.”

“The project was really an outdoor gallery – a pilot project to show how you can regenerate derelict spaces in a city without depending on public funding…and there are so many derelict sites across Dublin. So the feedback on Fund it was very enthusiastic,” she said.

Funding an Exhibition

Another artist who successfully funded a project on Fund it is Ronan Halpin, a sculptor inspired by the beauty surrounding his home on Mayo’s Achill Island. Mr Halpin works mainly with steel, bronze, brass, wood and glass. Seeking funds to cover printing and postage of the full-colour catalogue for his first solo exhibition in 15 years, Mr Halpin turned to Fund it for help.

The Fund it route is definitely a good one—I don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me…

—Ronan Halpin, artist

“Once I got my project accepted, they helped me on wording, and advice on what would and wouldn’t work. Then it was really a case of finding people, letting people know that it was there—basically through Facebook and email,” said Mr Halpin. 

“I would recommend it, absolutely. It is a very clever way of raising funds, and if people see that it’s actually worthwhile, if you can make a good case for yourself, people will respond,” he said. “I was actually funded over my estimate, which was great.”

When asked about alternative sources of funding, Mr Halpin said that it is not easy to obtain funding from the Arts Council, while County Councils have very limited funding available. “I don’t think there are any other funding openings. There are very few funding avenues open to artists anymore, so I think the Fund it route is definitely a good one—I don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.” 

Funding Creativity

Rowena Neville is Director of Marketing and PR at Business to Arts, the not-for-profit organisation behind Fund it, and she told The Epoch Times that Fund it is designed to encourage greater individual giving in the cultural sector and creative industries. This, she says, aims to impact the funding landscape of the sector, especially for younger creative persons who are not yet on, or may never make it onto, the so-called ‘funding’ ladder.

“As an organisation which focuses on creating innovative responses to developing a more sustainable and resilient creative sector, each of our activities and projects looks at how we can facilitate the response to the challenging economic climate: Fund it forms part of this response,” said Ms Neville. 

“Having observed the success of the crowd-funding concept internationally, we began to look at how this might be applied in the Irish market, questioning how projects are currently funded (or not), how large is the ‘gap’ between having an idea and realising it as a project, and how do the Irish respond to requests for support?

“Traditional sources of funding are dwindling and project creators are looking for new solutions, and the Irish have a tremendous track record of ‘micro patronage/philanthropy’ in many areas,” she said.

Ms Neville said that the feedback for Fund it has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Fund it has attracted broad media coverage, and pledges to projects from all over the world,” she said. “322 projects have been successfully funded, seeing a success rate of 74 per cent. In total, over 23,000 pledges have been received.

“I would say that there are 3 areas of funding opportunity for the arts – public (such as grants or subsidies from Local and County Councils, the Arts Council, Government Departments, the EU, and funding bodies such as Udaras, Leader, Foras na Gaeilge etc.); private investment (corporate sponsorship, donations, corporate or individual philanthropy, foundation grants, patronage, legacy, crowd-funding); and earnings (everything from sales of tickets, merchandise, rent, catalogues, advertising, consultancy etc). Fund it should form part of a broader fundraising strategy, rather than be the sole focus,” said Ms Neville.

For more information or to support creative Irish projects, visit www.Fundit.ie

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