Remember when crowdfunding was a baby? It was an innocent but fierce little phenomenon that you would feed, along with a whole community, and lo and behold, a project would be raised, big and strong ready to tackle the world.
Amazing things like literacy projects, art therapy, and independent documentaries were among the steadily highlighted cultural offerings on sites like Indiegogo.com.
These days I look at my weekly emails from Indiegogo and I see nothing but entrepreneurs trying to raise money to sell stuff right back to us — like the Ridogulous pet collar pictured above.
Of course many have a “socially responsible” element, like giving poor kids socks or donating ten percent of the price of those fancy underwear to charity, but Do-good Capitalism has been around long enough for most of us to know that we can’t buy our way out of the world’s problems, especially inequity.
Indiegogo is but another example of the displacement of independent art and culture by capital. Chantal Mouffe writes that in order to fight the trend of cultural production serving the role of capital valorization, we need to widen the field of artistic intervention, “[B]y intervening directly in a multiplicity of social spaces in order to oppose the program of total social mobilization of capitalism.”
This isn’t about going against people that want to start up businesses on Indiegogo, surely there are bigger fish to fry. It’s about finding ways to intervene in processes of cultural colonization by capital.
So while I dig around for viable alternatives to Indiegogo, or alternately find some way of filtering the business to the back and the art and culture to the front, I recommend supporting these two great campaigns: IMAA is seeking support to launch a new Canadian arts award, and the Howl! Arts Collective is raising money to record a beautiful double CD.
Update: Check out this article from the Guardian on another issue facing crowdfunding for the arts, namely wealthy Hollywood stars like Zach Braff turning down film financing in favour of “panhandling” on crowdfunding sites.