Herne Hill Piano Plea

The community of Herne Hill was initially divided over whether a street piano would work.

Would it be used and bring people together? Or would it be vandalised and wrecked? 

Eventually a community group got the go ahead and convinced the station to let them put the piano in the underpass. 

Project owner Giles Gibson told us: "It was massively popular from day one, within minutes there were people playing and people standing to listen to the music. 

"The piano has brought lots of attention, numerous videos and documentaries. It's absolutely transformed the area and brought the community together - to us it is definitely an asset worth saving. 

"The piano is now very battered so we decided we needed to raise funds to replace it and retire the current one." 

The big idea

Allow the local community to buy Herne Hill a new piano and let the old one retire. 

What happened

Giles has previously crowdfunded and so decided to opt for this method of fundraising as it allowed the community a chance to rally together and save something. 

He told us: "We really wanted the reassurance that people cared enough about the project. 

"We wanted to know if people would actually buy into it; it was a bit of a litmus test to find out if people actually would want to replace the piano or just let it go."

Giles explained how the community group experienced a lot of the usual fears associated with Crowdfunding - namely would anyone actually care and support them? 

Giles explained why this meant they opted for flexi-funding:  "We used the flexi-funding method as well, mainly because with this sort of project every little helps, so even if we hadn't hit target we would still have been able to do some of what we wanted, and still with benefit to the community."

The community group agreed on a target of £5,000. Incredibly, they hit their target in just six days! 

The local community clearly wanted to keep their People's Piano and in the end they raised a grand total of £5,960. 



The pledge rewards

Pledges ranged from £5 to £100 and all featured the quirky piano character. 

For £5 - £25, backers would receive a thank you card from the Herne Hill Piano, the £50 reward was a piano bag with Sweet Carolina biscuits and the £100 reward was to have your name on the piano wall. 

Once the overfunding started, the piano proposed some legacy ideas that would help local children out, such as an hour's piano lesson, a teach yourself piano book and CD, sheet music and a duet piano stool with storage space for sheet music. 

In the press

The clever, quirky nature of this crowdfunder project being written by a piano created a lot of local buzz! 

The initial project was covered by the local website Brixton Buzz and again after a documentary on the piano was released.  

What's next?

Giles told us they are getting the new piano very soon: "We're in the middle of organising a launch event for it with some very interesting artists heading down for their turn on the piano!"

Tips to project owners

We asked Giles for his top three tips for people thinking of crowdfunding: 

Do all of the legwork before starting: Get all your ducks in a row - do all the research you can and test the water with as many people as will listen. 

Talk to them about your project, tell them what you're doing and ask for their support, you can then begin to get an idea of who will get behind you.

Ask what rewards people want: Find out what they would like in return for their money, and take their ideas on board. 

They are the people who are giving you their money so it's best to give them a reward they would like.

Pick a target that feels comfortable: Don't be afraid to be ambitious but you want to make sure you're successful, and you can always overfund.

• Take a look at Giles' project page to find out more about the Herne Hill Piano Plea