5 'don'ts' to keep in mind when crowdfunding for theatre

Posted on 16 May, 2017 by Team Wishberry

Crowdfunding is quickly emerging as one of the biggest players when it comes to funding/producing in the field of the creative arts. Sample a few of these stats:

  • According to Massolution, in 2015, the global crowdfunding market stood at $34 Billion.
  • According to YourStory, the Indian crowdfunding market stands at Rs. 300 Crore.
  • Wishberry amassed 57% of the total funds pledged to creative projects in India (A little bit of self-promotion never hurts, people!).

The two most crucial factors deciding the fate of your crowdfunding campaign are:

  • You have a good idea: A project that is honest in its content and is artistically interesting as well.
  • You are ‘visible’: The success of your campaign depends on it. Campaigns don’t succeed on merit alone; they need the added push!

In such a scenario, if you want to crowdfund your play, you have to play the game right. And that quite simply means steering clear of these red flags!

Don't be a 'deer in the headlight'

Your campaign management team will go out of their way to ensure its success. You need to back them up by being 'present' at all times. And, this means keeping lines of communication open and heeding their advice (they are the pros here!). And this preparedness comes from voicing all your concerns to your team well in advance. Whether you are getting your first production crowdfunded or you are a thespian wanting to test the crowdfunding ‘waters’, what needs to be clear is that this is a different beast — you cannot hide behind the shield of ‘being an elusive artist’ if you want your crowdfunding campaign to succeed.

Don't cross your fingers and hope that it will work

You need to work to get your campaign fully funded. And this means prepping thoroughly. If you are getting all set to launch your maiden theatre crowdfunding campaign, do your homework. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work and trust us, it is. From coming up with social media strategies tailor-made for your campaign to drafting cold emails for all your contacts, you will have to go the extra mile. However, like we stressed earlier, all of this will become easier if you work in sync with your campaign management team.

Don't hide

There, we said it! You will have to talk about your campaign... to everyone... (Don’t spam them, though!). Make sure that all your friends, family, extended family, colleagues and even competitors know about it. And this means that you cannot simply put up details of the campaign and be ‘done with it’. Engaging your current backers and potential backers is crucial for your campaign’s success. Your posts need to reflect that. For example, when the play, Mr. & Mr., was in the process of crowdfunding, they would also share glimpses of their reading sessions.

Don't be opaque

This is perhaps the most crucial 'don’t'. All that you communicate via your campaign has to crisp and clear. This includes your pitch video, information and details that you put up about the project, your expectations, and your final goal. The pitch video, for example, needs to clearly convey what the campaign (in your case your production) is about. A generic introduction to immersion theatre, for example, will not work!

Don't set up inadequate rewards

'Tickets to the play' and a 'shout out on social media' are rewards that every production will do when crowdfunding for theatre — actually these are basic rewards that any audio-visual form campaign will look at (for example, films and painting exhibitions). You get the drift though, right? How is your campaign any different? Think about the reasons why someone would want to become a backer for your project... set up interesting rewards that many include but not remain limited to memorabilia, workshops, impromptu performances — for example one of the rewards that Showstopper! The Improvised Musical set up on Indiegogo was a “song improvised just for you...” This fit perfectly with their project — improvisation!

They've been to Mumbai as well!

Although it seems like an oxymoron, but theatre is seemingly losing valuable ground to mainstream forms of ‘entertainment’ such as films and television. In such a scenario, getting a theatre crowdfunding campaign to succeed may seem like a tall task. But, remember this, the crowd will respond if you put out the right message and with crowdfunding, you as a theatre professional, are sending the message that this medium is ready to communicate with all kinds of audiences, and you are opening up for them, a ‘reality’ that can actually trigger social change!

Halla Bol!

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