Image: The Made in Cloister Kickstarter, via Kickstarter
Over at Hyperallergic, Becca Rothfeld reflects on the diminishing role of traditional art patronage and the corresponding increase in crowd-funded art and art spaces:
Of late, there’ve been a host of articles about the tenuous future of artistic institutions that rely on rich benefactors: the Wall Street Journal examined the relationship between donors and museum spaces in New York, a new Vanity Fair piece out in the January 13th edition of the magazine explored the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum’s competition for backers, and a long list of hot takes on The New Republic have probed the future of magazine publishing. Dante Ramos wrote in the Boston Globe that “TNR has long required a wealthy patron more interested in prestige than revenue potential.” By all accounts, the arts are becoming increasingly oligarchical ...
Platforms like Kickstarter allow for the wide-scale funding democratization of the arts. As museums and performance spaces begin to make their work more accessible, making use of digital innovation to bring visual and performance arts to wider audiences, the art world is becoming less insular in at least some ways.
There are some drawbacks to this approach: it may not present a sustainable funding model, and it may disproportionately favor established artists. Crowdfunding can’t replace broader efforts to rethink the way that the arts are funded. But it can save floundering local institutions by appealing to the communities that love them in the short term, and it can do so with perhaps more reliability than tyrannical patrons can.
Does crowdfunding provide a sustainable, "democratic" alternative to the patronage model? What problems endemic to that model does crowdfunding avoid? What new problems does it bring?