We caught up with the first projects to receive grants through our matched crowdfunding pilot. What did they learn? How do you run a good campaign? And what are they doing next?
The Opera Story, a recently formed company specialising in commissioning new opera from young composers, and with a mission to make the beauty and richness of opera as accessible as possible, recently crowdfunded to help finance their very first show, Snow.
In December, the team successfully raised £7,405 from 78 supporters, including a £1250 match from Arts Council England, significantly exceeding their original £5,000 target. Snow was made a reality this Winter, with shows in London from February 20th to March 3rd. We spoke with Manuel Fajardo, The Opera Story’s co-founder and Executive Director, about the campaign.
Why did you decide to try crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to reach out to find out who believes in your project and to generate ownership of artistic projects from their earlier stages. Snow is The Opera Story’s first production, so we wanted to make sure we had that support to get the project off the ground. Crowdfunding was a useful tool for that.
Crowdfunding is also enjoyable for the audience. They are able to connect with the project, feel a part of it, and know that they have helped to make this happen.
How is crowdfunding different from how you normally finance or fundraise for projects?
Crowdfunding is one funding channel amongst many others. In our case, it made up a little over 10% of our total budget for the opera, and was very much complimentary to other funding channels. It’s good to involve as many stakeholders as we can, as it’s very risky to rely on one channel. In our case, for example, we also approached the government, trusts and foundations, corporates, individuals, and all of them work differently, even if they all have in common the need to stay true to your message and be confident in what makes your project unique.
Importantly, a successful crowdfund can be used to show that there is support for your project and may encourage other funders to get involved. Especially in our case because we managed to exceed our target by nearly £2,500. That gave us a great story we could tell to people and we are sure it motivated some other funders to back us.
What will you use the money for and what has happened since you hit your crowdfunding target?
We used it in exactly the way we had told our backers. In projects like ours, the large majority of the money goes directly to the artists, so in our case the money raised went mostly to cover their fees, and towards the cost of the production. It’s important that backers of your project can see exactly what you plan to do with the money.
What would be your top tips for others considering crowdfunding for an arts project?
Firstly, do your homework! A crowdfunding campaign isn’t something you can launch in two days and just hope that people turn up. If you have prepared carefully, written a good campaign page, and have thought about your arguments for needing support, then you should be in a good position.
Secondly, know your audience and engage with them. Rewards for backers are an important tool. But just as important is to give lots of updates, both on the campaign and your work on the project.
You can read more about The Opera Story project on their website.
This blog is posted as part of a series in which we catch up with a number of the projects which were successfully matchfunded through our pilot programme. Read them all.
Images: © Nick Rutter