Friday, August 16, 2013

Bull whip around

The great American art collector Eli Broad once said "philanthropy is activism" and there is certainly a big push to make it more active in New Zealand at the moment. But it's tough out there. Old school corporate sponsors are hard to entice, the public dollar is being spread thinner and thinner and the tertiary education sector restricts its funding to its own community.

The Government's call for arts organizations to eat the rich has come in synch with crowd sourced funding. Now more modest earners can get involved with supporting arts projects. We've already posted on the Arts Foundation's Boosted but yesterday there was a new twist as the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust launched its appeal Back the Bull. The goal - to buy Michael Parekowhai’s bull on a piano Chapman’s Homer for Christchurch.

It's interesting to see that the Trust has chosen the funding platform PledgeMe rather than Boosted for its latest $200,000 stump-up. And this despite the Christchurch Art Gallery having successfully funded its $25,000 project Populate on Boosted earlier this year. Maybe they felt that Boosted's assumption that tax credits would be a killer draw card for donors hasn't quite proved to have quite the clout expected. In general the amounts now requested on Boosted are more modest that at the outset. The average now stands at around $6,500 with $76,000 currently being requested across 12 projects. Around 24 percent of this has been donated so far.

Now because of the way the funding platform PledgeMe has been set up, donors can be offered all sorts of specific rewards (they can also offer tax deductions if the project has tax deductible status). When you see the packages offered by Christchurch's Back the Bull campaign, you can feel the attraction. They range from a thank-you in the Christchurch Press to party time with the Parekowhai himself. These giftettes are fun and appealing enticements whereas tax credits, not so much. OK, it's probably not very rational, and Boosted has brought in some valuable funding, but looking across the range of successful crowd sourcing sites emotional experience is the key driver rather than rational accounting advantages.

Back the Bull is only one day into its 48-day campaign with $15,350 pledged already and, thanks to the gifts and its feisty approach, it feels like fun. Hopefully it is also going to be a winner.

You can pledge for Back the Bull here and explore Boosted projects to donate to here.

Images: Top left Chapman's Homer in Auckland, right in Venice and below Christchurch