In the introduction to the volume, the author describes the rise of crowdfunding among other crowd-based online activities. Sites specifically dedicated to financing cultural projects – Indiegogo, Kiva, Pledge-Music, Artistshare, Patreon, Ulule, KissKissBankBank, Goteo, and Crowdculture – appeared in the late 2000s. Traditionally, crowdfunding is seen as a tool for democratizing investments. But how does crowdfunding democratize fundraising for cultural projects? That is the book’s main question.
Is crowdfunding really the achievement of the digital age? – the authors ask in the second chapter of the book. Although many people call crowdfunding an innovation, it is actually a 21st century reinterpretation of a long-standing model. Whether you’re looking at the dawn of the Internet or pre-digital age, there’s a good number of “projects” that have been supported by the community: Maria Schneider’s Grammy Award-winning album from 2005, Jane Austin and Mark Twain’s books had been printed with the help of subscriptions. We need to look for innovation – especially in case of cultural projects – in the product itself. And if one feels lost among the various terms (e.g. crowdsourcing, crowdfunding), this chapter can help clarifying them.
Following the question of innovation, the authors also questioned whether crowdfunding is really alternative. While the authors give a detailed overview of the issue at conceptual level, it is stated that platforms for funding cultural projects are in fact on the margins of traditional forms of financing. However, due to the large number of available projects, individual art projects may become self-contradictory and forced into an apparatus driven by economic interests. Based on this, the authors present six different types of platforms, but also provide a historical overview of the regulatory and technical milestones of 21st century crowdfunding. While development has favoured many cultural projects, market competition, existing structures and fashion do not fundamentally support creative activity.
What impact do crowdfunding platforms have on creative work? What kind of creation does this type of funding model favour? The model consisting of project owner, backer, and market makes the creator a “worker” in the sense that he or she must have skills as any startup owner does. All this requires the development and change of the cultural ecosystem, and project-based cultural activities by participants.
The last chapter is about the globalization of crowdfunding in Africa and Latin-America, players, local organizations, and cultural workers.
This paper is not a handbook for cultural campaigns, but a great study to find out how to fund art, film, theater, music and alternative art projects. The scholarly volume, as the sub-heading suggests, focuses primarily on the theoretical relationship between crowdfunding and cultural projects, supplemented by a historical overview of the topic, its literary implications, and a critical examination.
You can download the book for free from Open Access.
*Rouzé, V. (ed.) Cultural Crowdfunding: Platform Capitalism, Labour and Globalization. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book38.a. License: CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0.