Is this a Waste Land?

Is this a Waste Land? is a participatory art performance, bringing together six performers and an audience of up to 80 people in various disused urban spaces. Combining live performance and an interactive audio experience, participants wear headphones as they respond to instructions and to the environment. Research for the project began in 2014 and, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, the first performance is scheduled for the 29th April 2017.

Charlotte Spencer Projects reached their target, raising £4,033 in 28 days. The project was supported by 68 people, including £1,000 in match funding from the Arts Council England. We spoke with Charlotte about her campaign.

Is this a Waste Land? has received support from a number of organisations since its inception in 2014. Why did you choose crowdfunding for this final push?

I ran my first crowdfunding campaign about a year ago to raise money to build shelters for refugees at the temporary camp in Calais (which is no longer there). I was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many individuals for that project and it made me realise the potential of crowdfunding as a way to raise substantial funds for particular projects from individuals.

Of course the shelter project was quite different from the campaign to raise money for this performance project, but I guess that previous experience gave me confidence. As expected, raising the money for art and performance projects is harder, but still we were really moved my how many people contributed to this fundraising campaign and how many enthusiastic and encouraging responses we received. It is an amazing feeling to raise over £4,000 through lots of smaller donations from individuals. We have raised money for this project from lots and lots of different sources, individual donations via this crowdfunding campaign represents just one element of the whole map of support.

How have you used the money raised?

The money that we raised on Crowdfunder hasn’t been spent on one specific thing. The project as a whole has a budget of about £140,000, so the £4,000 that we raised through this campaign contributes to small portion of the whole. But it is equivalent roughly to the cost of the audio set-up - 100 headsets for the audience, transmitters and computer software.

Our rehearsal period starts towards the end of March and then we have performances on 29th and 30th April in Corby and 12-14th May as part of Dance International Glasgow. There will be lots of other performances and activity related to the project later in the year as well.

What are your top tips for other artists thinking of crowdfunding their projects?

  • Be clear what you're asking for
  • Demonstrate that the money you raise will be well spent
  • Think about why someone would want to donate to your project - what is special about it?
  • Demonstrate that your project will be of high quality
  • Show how you plan to spend the money
  • Be clear about the timescale of your project and the planning that has gone into making it a success
  • Try to do all of that and not write too much!
  • Don’t over commit on the ‘rewards’ - my experience is that people want to give money to help make the project happen, not that you will have to use half the money (or lots of your time) making them nice rewards...that was not the point!
  • Be realistic in your fundraising target. Raising more than £4,000 can be really hard, even with a strong network of supporters and the matched support of the Arts Council England.
  • Social media is indeed good for spreading the word. For me it did feel uncomfortable to bombard people too much, but fairly regular, enthusiastic reminders seemed to work well.
Is this a waste land extra funding