Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Kickstarting Art

It takes money to make money. It often takes money to promote a good idea or bring an art initiative to fruition. A friend of mine is part of a theater group at San Francisco State University. While the arts are extremely popular, the university is becoming increasingly restricted in its ability to fund projects through to their production.

In a country reeling from economic mismanagement (yes we should begin to call it what it is before we forget and allow it to happen again), money for the arts is scarce and the process to obtain such funds complex.

Enter Kickstarter – an organization that harnesses the power of many individuals giving small amounts. An artist can prepare a project plan, promote it through the Internet and people can safely (through Amazon.com) pledge as little as $1. If the project needs to raise $10,000, for example, then they have 90 days to raise it all.

One of the aspects that stands out for me is that if the project does not succeed in raising the amount needed for the project then the donors are not charged. In other words, you pledge the money and only pay when the goal is met.

In an age when a young generation has been brought up on entitlement, I find this a refreshing framework. It might just separate the artists from the dreamers.

My friend and her colleagues are raising money to produce a play that deals with suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. It is called Jump: A Love Story and is a play which incorporates multimedia.

Please click here to see their short promotional video.

And if you can pledge the price of a cappuccino, please click here. 30 days into their 3 months, they have raised over 60% of their chosen goal. These are students at San Francisco State trying to express themselves and an important social issue through art. And they are willing to get entrepreneurial to see it come to fruition.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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