Getting creative with funding: Walkleys at Vivid

In their quest for cash, Australian creators across the arts are drumming up dollars direct from their audiences. That was the focus of the Vivid festival panel presented by the Walkley Foundation and MEAA last week. Walkley Foundation intern, Carmen Juarez, shares the details.

“How we’re funding creative work now” saw Dan Ilic from A Rational Fear; Tom Dawkins from StartSomeGood, Dino Dimitriadis from Apocalypse Theatre Company and Nathan Earl from PLONK speak to Jeanette Francis from The Feed about the trials and triumphs of crowdfunding and branded content.

In April 2014 home-grown player Pozible reached $20 million in total funds pledged, with media and entertainment its biggest category.

One of Pozible’s success stories, A Rational Fear was shared by panellist Dan Ilic. He told of the 700-odd supporters who raised over $50,000 to fund 10 weeks of satirical comedy content. Ilic stressed the importance of a perfect video pitch and spoke about the differences between using crowdfunding platforms such as Pozible and seeking funding from media organisations such as the ABC or Network Ten.

Tom Dawkins spoke about the creation of his organisation StartSomeGood – another crowdfunding tool in the vein of Pozible and Kickstarter, itself originally funded through an Indiegogo campaign. He highlighted the importance of getting the most out of crowdfunding features such as the setting of a strategic target and the best ways of reaching future-potential-funders beyond your immediate circle of friends.

Stepping away from crowdfunding, Nathan Earl spoke of aligning your creative project with a particular brand as an alternative to traditional funding forms. Or as he put it: “convincing large companies with s***loads of money to fund my projects under the guise of branded content.” Earl shared two examples of his work funded by branded content; The Great Crusade – a web series for Qantas about the Rugby World Cup that went on to win the gold lion at the first branded content award at Cannes, and PLONK a branded web series for Destination NSW.

Dino Dimitriadis, Nathan Earl, Dan Ilic, Tom Dawkins and Jeanette Francis speak at Vivid

Dino Dimitriadis, Nathan Earl, Dan Ilic, Tom Dawkins and Jeanette Francis speak at Vivid

Dimitriadis explained that Apocalypse Theatre Company would not have staged Construction of the Human Heart if the actors could not be properly compensated for their time. A Pozible campaign successfully raised well over the $5000 sought to pay the actors. Dimitriadis said being transparent about why you are seeking funding and exactly where the funding will go is important. He partially put down the campaign’s success to the fact that it was part of a bigger issue – provoking the public to put actors’ pay at the centre of the discussion. Dimitriadis also spoke about the use of corporate sponsorship to fund other elements of creative work such as lighting and stage set-up.

These success stories hint that circumventing traditional funding models may just be the best way to keep the Australian arts and media scene alive and financially viable.

– Carmen Juarez is currently interning at the Walkley Foundation, after completing her Journalism (Honours) thesis at QUT. Twitter: @CarmenJuarez

Photos by Lauren Katsikitis.