Our CEO, Caroline Norbury offers her thoughts on why Crowdfunding is important
Sadly, I’m old enough to remember the prog-rock group Marillion. Outside their hit single, Kayleigh though, I can’t pretend to know a lot about them, or their music, apart from their other claim to fame – which is that they purport to have invented Crowdfunding. Back in the late 1990s they needed to raise £39,000 to finance their North American tour. They hit their target by reaching out to their fans; repeating the process in early 2001 by asking fans to sign up to pre-order their next album.
The driver behind Marillion’s segue into crowdfunding was not the onset of a health emergency, but the parting of ways with their record company. As is often the case, the creative sector led the way on finding an innovative approach to defeating obstacles in the way of getting heard!
The current pandemic has shown us not only how much we need and rely on our friends and family, but also how important the kindness of strangers can be. Whether it’s standout campaigns – such as 99 year old first World War veteran Captain Tom, valiantly raising over £15m for the NHS on JustGiving or #SaveOurTheatres on Crowdfunder, who raised £957,000 to help theatres in villages, towns and cities across the UK – the British public has been fantastically generous.
I should declare an interest here; I am a non-executive on the board of Crowdfunder, one the country’s leading reward-based crowdfunding platforms. Early into lockdown the Creative Industries Federation partnered with Crowdfunder to support a plethora of cultural organisations and projects that desperately needed cash. Helping festivals, small music venues and others in the cultural and creative industries sector find ways of generating income in return for tickets to future events, lifeline support to freelancers and artists badly affected by the cessation of their income and emergency funding to stop venues closing. It proved a lifeline to many businesses and reinforced my belief in the power of random acts of kindness.
I’m hoping the power of the crowd to make change will hold true as the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England launch our first crowdfunding raise today for the Creative Coalition Festival. Bringing together the UK’s leading creators, makers, leaders and innovators and streaming live from across the UK, we’re aiming to create the largest online networking event for the cultural and creative industries this year. We have 60+ sessions, 6 stages, 3 days, 19+ festival partners and over 200+ speakers including Ruby Wax, Jefferson Hack, George the Poet, Dan Gillespie Sells and Tim Davie CBE, Director General, BBC as well as leading creative voices from Netflix, Facebook, Sky Arts, Channel 4 and The White Pube – to name but a few!
We know that many in the creative sector have been hit hard by the pandemic. Lots of creative freelancers, students and microbusinesses need opportunities now more than ever to develop their network and find work in these challenging times. So, we’re encouraging everyone who can, to play their part in helping those creative practitioners who need it most, to buy someone they don’t know a ticket or purchase a reward. We’ll be distributing tickets via our partners – grassroots arts organisations and freelancer networks – and we would love you to be part of our crowd.
So please pledge or donate what you can – every £1 counts and helps us help the creative industries at this challenging time. I can promise you some money-can’t-buy-rewards from our creative partners – sadly I can’t promise that Marillion’s comeback tour is one of them!