Crowd funding from other creatives makes me want to cry! It’s neither positive, productive or in any way sustainable.
I’ve just received a very polite message asking if I’d be interested in Crowd Funding a new show. The person who sent the message shall remain nameless as they went about it in a perfectly lovely and blameless fashion. But I was completely incensed by it. I’ve just tried to pull apart my anger and this is what I think caused it.
I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life subsidising UK theatre with my time – my love, sweat and tears. I am not alone in this. Every single day the only thing which keeps the theatre industry afloat is the fact we collectively are willing to subsidise it with our free labour. That is why – despite the fact the UK industry receives roughly half the amount of financial support per head of population compared to France and Germany – our output is actually greater than either.
Our government, councils and communities aren’t willing to put the money in to keep the arts alive so we have to do it by sacrificing ourselves. We are potentially idiots for doing it. That’s another discussion. But having spent 10 years subsiding the theatre in this country with my low pay/ no pay labour – now being asked to subsidise it with my own cash as well is just too much for me to take without wanting to scream. In no other industry would the workforce be asked to work for free, then asked to do a whip round to put what little cash they’d manage to scrape together, despite having had to work for free, back into the industry that didn’t pay them in the first place.
Crowd funding – if it is a way to get people from outside the industry to give money – an unofficial tax and subsidy of the arts then thats great. But if it’s just another way for the artistic community to subsidise the industry themselves then it’s neither positive, productive or in any way sustainable.
Alexander Parsonage says
Actually I’m afraid to say this one wasn’t offering to pay cast and or crew. (it may be but they didn’t mention that)… Though I suspect either way I’m uneasy about it! It just can’t make financial sense to move money between people at the bottom – constantly leaching money to crowd funding websites, payment providers and banks with each transaction – rather than bring money into the industry from outside. Which is where crowd funding can and should be used!
Rob Talbot says
At least this one mentioned funding for crew AND cast. I’ve been invited to MANY of these where the cast are still expected to work fro free.
Helen Raw says
I open with this : happy to provide a full Word/PDF doc of my comments but I think you need to wind your neck in especially when crowd funding allows crew and actors to be paid. What is your actual problem with this?
“Crowd funding is a great way to fund a project that means actors and crew all get paid for what they do.’: What is your actual gripe Alexander?
I have reposted some of your questions and posted some answers for you…
– Why were you incensed by such a suggestion?
– Subsidising it with free labour? Who says? Do you mean you work for free?
– Why do we have to sacrifice ourselves? Why don’t we look for, or raise, the money elsewhere?
– We are potentially idiots for doing it: Yes, yes you are if you do it for free
– That’s another discussion: No, it’s part of this discussion.
– But having spent 10 years subsiding the theatre in this country with my own labour: working for free for 10 years, really, are you insane?
– now being asked to subsidise it with my own cash as well is just too much for me to take without wanting to scream: No-one is forcing you
– In no other industry would the workforce be asked to work for free: Yes but you appear to have done it for over 10 years…
– then ask to do a whip round to put what little cash they’d manage to scrape together, despite having had to work for free, back into the industry that didn’t pay them in the first place: see your other comments.
Happy to provide a full Word/PDF doc of the above but I think you need to wind your neck in especially when crowd funding allows crew and actors to be paid. What is your actual problem with this?
Alexander Parsonage says
Hi Helen thanks for your comments – On a very practical level if crowd funding is mainly happening between members of the same industry at a similar level – it’s massively financially inefficient.
It’s like three beggars each begging off each other – collectively they will never be any better off – only what’s worse is that each time they pass each other a coin a third party (the crowd funding website, the payment company, the bank) takes a cut. So each time our beggars are handed a coin – they are in fact collectively worse off… they’d have been much better advised to keep their coins to themselves and begged money from elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong – crowd funding is great and makes perfect sense as long as it’s bringing money into the theatre industry. If on the other hand it’s simply moving (and losing) money between members of the industry it isn’t helping anyone.
Carol Leeming says
Me too !