Monday, March 25, 2013

Give and take

The Kickstarter inspired crowdfunding site Boosted has just been launched by the New Zealand ArtsFoundation. Although it fronts up like Kickstarter (feisty attitude, snappy graphics and push) it isn’t really. Critically it lacks the personalised rewards and relationship building that are now the signature of crowd sourcing. As one savvy digital guy Nat Torkington points out, Boosted tends to see giving as its own reward - plus tax deductions.

This is very different from the many (and you’d have to say often trivial and annoying) ‘gifts’ and ‘opportunities’ offered by most crowdfunding sites. It's kind of ironic that in a ‘everything-should-be-free-for-everybody’  digital society, when it comes to giving, you need to give something back and preferably something more personal than filling out an IR526 form.

So how far should Boosted go in rewarding contributors with either tangibles (postcards through to dinner with the performers/creators to art works) or intangibles (copious thanks, gold stars, names on boards)? Well it's hard to see how Boosted can grow without being at least a little more engaged with its gifters. The reciprocity principle demands it although we know the major downside for artists - being dragged to functions to meet or perform in front of sponsors, making works as thank-you gifts etc.

Still the visual arts at least are used to it, balancing with one foot in the world of commerce (dealers, art fairs and auctions) and the other in the world of 'support' (sponsorships, grants, fellowships and handouts).

Still, that’s not to say there is anything wrong with a world where sometimes, like cigars, a gift is just a gift.

NOTE: As Boosted explain on their site providing reciprocal gifts like postcards etc will preclude a donation from being a charitable one.  In order to be “charitable” (and in order to qualify for that tax deduction) donations must be “unconditional”.