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“Absolute Explosion” in Crowdfunding for Theatre

Crowdfunding in the UK has now raised over £250,000 for theatre and dance projects in 2014 alone.

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The news comes courtesy of the Crowd Data Center – which monitors roughly 90% of all crowdfunding activity in the UK – and which produced a groundbreaking report on the state of the sector earlier this year. Between January and the end of April – theatre campaigns have raised close to £239,500, while dance projects attracted £17,500 of investment. The total sum of money was raised by 137 theatre campaigns and 10 dance projects from a host of sites including – as you might expect – Crowdcube, Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Barry James, Founder of the Crowdfunding Centre, described an “absolute explosion” in the number of theatre backers from February to March. His explanation of the gulf in popularity between theatre and dance projects with backers revolves around the longevity of theatre productions:

“If you’re putting an event on, selling tickets is kind of an established form of crowdfunding. However, the mindset of buying a ticket for a crowdfund seems to be weak. Creating a venture or helping to support something new and exciting is much more appealing. People see events – which dance projects will often be – as ephemeral whereas a production that will have an impact and last for longer is viewed differently.”

Today’s news from the Crowd Data Center aptly reflects the value of the service it is providing. We all hear about the rapid ascent of the crowdfunding industry and scale of the impact it is having – the Crowd Data Center is tracking that impact in real terms. As Dr. Richard Swart, Global Crowdfunding & Alternative Finance Researcher at the University of California,Berkeley, commented in May:

“With such a fast moving market, growing exponentially, it is extremely important that policy makers, educators and professionals have a resource to track funding patterns. The Crowd Data Center has laid the foundation for a data set that can change the industry.”

The other key findings from the theatre and dance-based research are listed below:

  • The overall figure of £250,000+ accounts for money raised by both “all-or-nothing” and “flexible funding” campaigns.

  • There are two high-profile campaigns omitted from the data:

    • A forthcoming production of The Wind in the Willows – that raised £1 million from its own purpose-built platform earlier this year.

    • A new musical called Happy Days – which crowdfunded an investment of £250,000 towards the end of 2013.

  • Theatre campaigns that reached their target required an average of 46 backers. Dance campaigns took an average of 42.

  • Number of backers in the first quarter of 2014 for theatre projects has increased from 263 in January to 458 in February, and 2,090 by the end of March – a near 700% rise in just three months.

  • The figures indicate a trebling in the number of campaigns ending in March – suggesting plenty of last-minute support for projects nearing their fundraising target.

  • There was an increase in the total amount of money raised by individual projects – from roughly £9,400 in January to £72,500 by the close of March. This figure then doubled to £145,000 in April.

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Richard Swart

Director of Research, The Program for Innovation in Entrepreneurial and Social Finance

Berkeley,University of California

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