WE’RE now five years past the launch of Kickstarter, and some culture hounds, a new Telegraph article says, refer to the eras “BK” and “AK” — Before and After Kickstarter. What has it done for arts and culture projects? The story takes stock of the good and bad, and comes down mostly on the good the crowdfunding has done. It’s been especially crucial for independent film. Paul Kendall writes:
Five years into the AK era (the site launched in April 2009), Kickstarter has funded more than 60,000 projects all over the world, from organic food companies and public parks, to photography exhibitions, museums and fashion lines. It has given life to new novels, operas and musicals, a skatepark in Philadelphia, an underwater robot, several mini satellites, and a bizarre product called the Ostrich Pillow that is a godsend to anyone trying to have a power nap on a train, aeroplane or bus, and who doesn’t mind looking ridiculous.
This story, which includes an interview with co-founder Yancey Strickler, is wide-ranging and intelligent, and I don’t entirely disagree with it. Kickstarter has made some valuable projects happen; we are better with it than without it. There are darker sides to crowdfunding though — the way wealthy celebrities have jacked the system, the popularity-contest version of it, the pivot by some that since the market works so well, we don’t need an NEA or NEH or similar sources of culture funding.