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Niall Byrne: Giving art a helping hand


A photo from the Funk It-launched Where Were You! book of photography

A photo from the Funk It-launched Where Were You! book of photography

A photo from the Funk It-launched Where Were You! book of photography

In corners of the internet, far away from funny cat videos and celebrity gossip, there is some real-world positivity happening.

Despite what YouTube comments might have you believe, we, the people, are a benevolent bunch. Crowdfunding platforms including Pledgemusic, Kickstarter, Slice The Pie and Sellaband have proven that where there is the promise of great art there can be success. Now it's Ireland's turn thanks to FundIt.ie.

Fund It launched last month with an emphasis on facilitating projects from creators in fields such as art, design, events fashion, film, music and performance. The crowdfunding concept allows an ordinary and interested citizen to make a financial contribution towards these projects. In return, the artists get to make their ideas a reality. With arts funding suffering in the current economic climate, Fund It, (which ironically itself was part-funded by a technology grant from Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht) offers a way to bypass traditional financial models.

"We believe that 'people power' provides real potential for a new way of funding creative ideas," says Rowena Neville of Business To Arts, the company behind the Fund It platform. Appealingly, that power comes with very little risk. If a project fails to reach its target within its allotted time, those who pledged are charged nothing. If the project succeeds, then the pledgers receive a reward appropriate to the project and a sense of patronly pride that they've helped make a creative idea a reality. What's more, a project that reaches its goal will likely benefit from the readymade audience it has created through its investors and the accompanying social media buzz.

Since Fund It launched just under a month ago, 11 campaigns have been approved by the team. Where Were You! is a book of photography and a documentary covering Dublin street style over the past 50 years. The ThisIsPopBaby-commissioned play from Neil Watkins, the intriguingly titled The Year Of Magical Wanking, has passed the half-way point of its goal of €6,000. Open House Dublin is hoping to reach a target of €15,000 to produce a book of architectural photography.

Neville says that Ireland is the perfect place for such cultural philanthropy. "We know already that Ireland is among the best in the world at donating smaller gifts to charity and was recently ranked joint third in the World Giving Index Top 10 in 2010, in terms of the percentage of the population that have given money to causes, with an estimated 64 per cent of the population willing to donate."

The Irish charitable disposition looks to have translated to online platforms if Fund It's initial success is any indication. Two projects hit 100 per cent of their target goal within the first month. The Irish Museum Of Modern Art received sufficient funding from 92 people to buy four Bea McMahon drawings and Le Cool Dublin's walking tours have received the required financial support from 113 people. In just over three weeks, the total amount pledged was €25,000.

See a list of available projects at www.fundit.ie

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