How To Crowdfund A Fringe Show

Posted on Friday August 23rd 2013


Dublin Fringe Festival 2013 brochure with Fund it projects marked

For Dublin Fringe Festival projects, getting into the programme is not the final challenge. Funding means the show can go on! This year 16 fringe projects raised over €49,500 on Fund it, which is up from €48,300 raised by fringe projects in 2012. We spoke to three project creators to find out why they chose crowdfunding as a means of funding and to try and get an insight into their campaigns.

GRINDER a love story

For Oisin McKenna of PETTYCASH, project creator for ‘GRINDR/ a love story’, crowdfunding just made sense. For small, up-and-coming or lower profile artists and organisations, crowdfunding can be the most accessible funding option.  Digital marketing is a big part of the PETTYCASH ethos, so crowdfunding seemed a very compatible match. Another advantage, although not a deciding factor, was the publicity it brought in advance of the show, getting people talking about it and creating visibility.

Out of the crowdfunding platforms available, several people in the PETTYCASH network had run projects on Fund it before, so it was the platform with the most visibility and recognition within their peer group. Oisin felt it was also more likely to attract ‘browsers’ – people perusing Fund it would be more likely to be interested, than those browsing a huge international site.

Most important element of project: It was vital when submitting the project that the whole thing was high quality, nothing was just thrown together. The project represented a strong product indicator for the show.  The video was really important. It had to be a fun, creative work in itself, while being representative of the piece it was describing. The rewards were important too.

What worked: Making sure social media posts were about activities, and not just asking people for support. When fatigue set in in the middle of the campaign they started being less creative with the posts and the decline in shares and retweets was noticeable. By talking about what they were up to, the pledges started rolling in again.

Would you do it the same again? The campaign was really successful, so Oisin reckons they would just tailor any future campaign to the project at hand, without changing tack.  They would use crowdfunding again if it was appropriate for the project, but having run a campaign, would explore other options before returning to the crowd too soon.

The Games People Play

Aonghus Óg McAnally, project creator for ‘The Games People Play‘, has always been a great advocate of supporting Irish theatre. Although Rise Productions are an award-winning company, they have been turned down for Arts Council funding a number of times. Due to the theatre podcasts they created in 2011, they have a very engaged network, which lends itself to crowdfunding.

Aonghus never went abroad to train, and believes that the Irish don’t have to go outside our own country to achieve what we want. Fund it, as a domestic site, was the obvious choice for him.

Most important element of project: As a regular funder on the site, Aonghus was fully aware of the importance of rewards. While the promise of a hug is great, he feels the more tangible rewards are really what a funder’s looking for. ‘The Games People Play’ offered a wide range or rewards, from a copy of Gavin Kostick’s script to a performance of the award winning show ‘Fight Night’ in your house (which someone did go for… in London!).

What worked: Utilising the ‘other half’ of his network. The members of the theatre community, while very engaged, are frequently bombarded with crowdfunding requests, and may even have a crowdfunding project of their own to concentrate on. So thinking about ‘other networks’ was key. Aonghus has a really strong connection to the GAA, many of whose members would come to his shows. The support from the GAA was enormous, and made all of the difference.

Would you do it the same again? This project received such generous support, that to do it again, it would have to be quite different. There are only so many times a person can tap the well, so future crowdfunded projects would be smaller, more suited to concentrating on ticket pre-sales.

4704 We Are Islanders

Rosie O’Reilly from We Are Islanders is creating a unique art installation, ‘4/704’, as part of this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival. This is Rosie’s first large scale installation, so State or corporate funding would be difficult to get. We Are Islanders have always relied on funding from individuals and supporters so crowdfunding online is just a different platform for something they’re already used to.

Rosie was involved in the ‘Re-dress’ Better Fashion Week’ project, which was successful on Fund it in 2011. Given the connection between We Are Islanders and Re-dress, their network were already familiar with the Fund it site and the crowdfunding process.

Most important element of project: The story. The installation tells the story of a bigger issue which Rosie was well aware would be the most interesting thing for the We Are Islanders’ network, so getting that story across well was vital. The image by Des Moriarty was also important for their publicity campaign.

What Worked? Strategy; An initial e-mail was sent to 30 key people who Rosie knew would not only support the project, but would act as ambassadors for the campaign. Getting a GIF in LeCool on the day the project went live was key, as the readership is huge and very relevant. The name written in sand was a really popular reward and has generated great excitement as it is unique, special and makes funders feel like they’re a part of the project.

Would you do it the same again? The project was a great success so future strategies wouldn’t change. This project was presented in a different incarnation from the Re-dress project – even though they are related, Rosie thinks crowdfunding works best when presented as a one-off. She would use it again herself in another context, for a project that needed public support and involvement.

Thanks to you, twelve theatre pieces, two dance performances, an art installation and a series of events will take place as part of Dublin Fringe Festival this year. Here’s where you can catch them:

Decision Problem; Figure It Out; Kitschcock; The Games People Play; The Churching of Happy Cullen; 4/704; The Far Side; Fit/Misfit; Pondling; Exit Strategy; Grindr / A Love Story; The King’s Feet; The Secret Art of Murder; Cuomo; AnimusRites of Passage Evolving Our PastRites of Passage State of The Nation; Rites of Passage Tour Guides to the Future.

PS – Its not just Dublin you know, there were another 5 projects successful on Fund it for Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year too!

Morning and Afternoon; Brace – Fionnuala and Skeffy; Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend; The Paper Princess; These Halcyon Days.

Markers for Fund it Projects in Dublin Fringe Festival brochure.

– Written by: Claire FitzGerald

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