Kickstarting Your Art Career

With the news today that a New York opera company turned to Kickstarter to gain funds and was unsuccessful, one has to wonder whether the platform is a good or bad thing for the arts. It seems that for every success story we see (mostly about movies) there will be a number of stories of failure. Should it be seen as a failure of those campaigning or is it too niche a market to aim for?

It really comes down to what the pitch is about on the site. Just look at the number of sections available. They do skew towards the creative (film,photography, fashion, design) but most success comes from those pitching a product. Success on the larger scale comes from tech companies offering specialised products and souped up products e.g. a wireless adaptor with a 1km range.

The idea of it being an investment appeals to most backers. Only with success of the campaign will you be guaranteed results. Fail to reach the target amount and the investors get their money back. When New York City Opera only managed to raise a quarter of its $1million goal, it was a nail in the coffin.


Many newsworthy campaigns stem from social sharing. It’s the online word of mouth method that spreads it around the globe. This could account for the company’s main reason of failure. By placing the campaign in a specific location it completely limits the potentially global reach to essentially a few square miles. By simply stating the company needed help and not going on a case by case (show by show) business, it does to show how personalisation is key to a successful campaign.

Kickstarter can still be a fruitful means of success when the price is right. In 2009 visual artist Jessica Rath successfully got her $1500 campaign passed, enabling her to travel to The Plant Resource Unit is in New York in order to sculpt some endangered varieties of apple. She managed to raise over $2000. It was a small amount to pitch for and worked because of this.

If you’re thinking of launching a Kickstarter for a personal project just remember that the lower you can go, the more personal you make your case and the more important you make the outcome appear, the higher the chance to succeed.

Crowd-sourcing is always a stormy sea to navigate. Making sure you can see the port in sight will be a better place to start off from rather than a general plea to save a company from its already dwindling reach.