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Crowdfunding Cities

I went to Detroit this past weekend to speak to the Knight Foundation’s art grantees. Knight is a non-profit that is concentrated on “transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts,” and I first began collaborating with them earlier this year when I gave a presentation in Miami on crowdfunding tips and success stories. In Miami, the audience was packed, while in Detroit it was much smaller and more intimate. This is not surprising considering they are both cities in very different fiscal situations, but it did get me thinking about crowdfunding’s place in other parts of the country, and other parts of the world.

Living and Brooklyn, I am right around the corner from Kickstarter. Most of my projects have been for New York-based artists and entrepreneurs. Other projects that I have worked on have been for San Francisco-based, where Indiegogo is based. So my experience in crowdfunding has been contained in cosmopolitan cities where crowdfunding is saturated and prevalent. You say the word Kickstarter in any big city and people know it; in fact, they probably have used it, or gotten an email from a friend, or a friend of a friend to donate to a project. The idea of crowdfunding has very quickly crowdsourced itself. So what about every other city in the United States? Detroit was very eye opening, because while the audience for my presentation as small, they were all very interested. They weren’t skeptical, but actively curious, eagerly asking questions about how both create a campaign and guarantee its success. To a city in slow recovery like Detroit, crowdfunding has the potential to start small and spread very quickly—if not within the city itself, then to other cities and countries outside of it, which will only bring it more awareness and resources. 

A couple weeks ago I was back in Miami for another presentation about crowdfunding. Sharing the floor with me was Juan Pablo Capello, who founded Ideame, a crowdfunding platform based in Buenos Aires. According to the New York Times, “While most Latin American crowdfunding sites are country-specific, Ideame is trying to become a top player for the entire region.” Not even two years old, Ideame will take time to expand regionally especially since payment systems tend to vary from country to country. Still, this is fascinating to me and got me researching more. In recent Kickstarter stats, over 20,000 people have pledged on the platform, and over 8,000 in Argentina. 49 have pledged on Kickstarter in Sudan.

It will take time for other cities and countries time to actually be able to use the Internet and payment services to be able to successfully crowdfund. Still, it’s clear that people are interested, and they are trying. In Detroit, an artist approached me and said that he works with artists in Zimbabwe. His biggest issue is that they don’t have have actual credit cards to pledge on a crowdfunding platform. After some brainstorming I suggested that backers could send checks and he could post them online on their behalf. He smiled. “That works,” he said. 


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