Arts Council sponsors artists online

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Photo by Joy Shan.

A new partnership between the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and online fundraising platform Kickstarter aims to broaden support for New Haven artists beyond those who know them personally.

Last week, the Arts Council launched its curator page on Kickstarter, expanding visibility of New Haven artists in need of funding. The Arts Council’s Executive Director Cynthia Clair said that while she had known about Kickstarter for years, the Arts Council decided to launch the partnership after discovering last month that the city of Portland, Ore. uses the site to promote local artists.

Through Kickstarter, artists pitch their current projects online and put up a fundraising goal. Visitors can elect to pledge a dollar amount, and if the artist’s goal is met within a set time frame, the donation becomes a reality. Other groups that host similar pages on Kickstarter include the Sundance Film Festival, YouTube, the New Museum in New York City and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Clair said that a partnership with Kickstarter appealed to the Arts Council because it is a tried-and-true platform. Rather than reinventing the wheel for artistic promotion, she said, the Arts Council chose to use a known brand to support New Haven’s creative community. As the partnership has only been live for a week, she added that it is difficult to measure the success of the Arts Council’s affiliation with Kickstarter.

Pantochino Productions, a non-profit theater group based in New Haven, raised about $14,000 through Kickstarter before becoming one of the artistic groups featured on the Arts Council’s curator page, Pantochino producer and director Bert Bernardi said in an email. The sum was enough to cover the expenses of the group’s first production, “Cinderella Skeleton: The Musical,” Bernardi said.

“[It was] amazing to [reach] people who we didn’t know at all — who found our Kickstarter page, watched our video and found it interesting enough to support,” Bernardi said. He added that the production company supplemented the publicity from Kickstarter with constant messages posted on Facebook and Twitter in order to maintain the project’s momentum.

New Haven filmmaker Gorman Bechard said in an email that he has raised just under $100,000 through Kickstarter for his documentary film on the 80s band “The Replacements” titled “Color Me Obsessed.” He began fundraising in 2009, but said that searching for support took longer than the actual production of his project. While he is not affiliated with the Arts Council’s curator page on Kickstart, Bechard said the found Kickstarter an effective fundraising tool as an independent artist.

“[Kickstarter is] a dream come true for the artistic community,” Bechard said. “It gives you total freedom. And the buzz begins long before your film is finished.”

The Arts Council’s curator page on Kickstarter currently features four artistic groups including Elm City Dance Collective, Pantochino Productions, musician Dave Ramos and the 9Realms fantasy film series.

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