Reporting from Miami: Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative with Jessica Hodin
THE ART BASEL CROWDFUNDING INITIATIVE IS DESIGNED FOR PROJECTS THAT STRENGTHEN THE ECOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ART PRACTICE. IT INCLUDES ARTISTS’ RESIDENCIES, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND PUBLICATIONS AS WELL AS THE SPONSORSHIP OF PUBLIC ART PROJECTS ON A GLOBAL SCALE. PROPOSALS FROM NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS IN THE ART COMMUNITIES WORLDWIDE ARE SELECTED FOR THEIR QUALITY, INNOVATION, CREATIVITY, AND VIABILITY. ABCI IS A GRAVITATIONAL FORCE THAT ATTRACTS ARTISTS, CRITICS AND CURATORS TO TAKE NOTE OF THE PROJECTS THEY HAVE FUNDED AND THUS SIGNIFICANTLY BROADEN THE AUDIENCE FOR INNOVATIVE CONTEMPORARY ART.
THE PROJECTS ARE VETTED BY A TEAM OF ACCOMPLISHED JURY MEMBERS: HAMAD NASAR, CURATOR AND HEAD OF RESEARCH AND PROGRAMMING AT THE ASIA ART ARCHIVE, HONG KONG; GLENN PHILLIPS, ACTING HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE GETTY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LOS ANGELES; AND MARI SPIRITO, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF PROTOCINEMA, ISTANBUL AND NEW YORK, WHO PROVIDE A LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE THAT PROPELS THE SELECTION PROCESS BOTH FORWARD AND UPWARD.
Art Basel’s Crowdfunding Initiative creates a huge amount of exposure and dialogue and will create other opportunities
for other fundraising for the non-profit organizations thanks to the visibility you get for the brand, for the project.
– Mari Spirito
Everyone is looking every- where for alternative ways to engage, to raise support, awareness, and funding.
Non-profit art organizations are the life blood of the art world. No artist, no gallery, no museum person, no collector who is here would be here if there was not this much wider world of quite small, good non- profit art initiatives.
IT IS A PLEASURE AND A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE JESSICA HODIN, MANAGER OF THE CROWDFUNDING INITIATIVE FOR ART BASEL, HERE IN TODAY’S LRFA BLOG POST TO DETAIL THE IMPACT THAT THIS PROGRAM PROVIDES GLOBALLY TO NON-PROFIT GROUPS IN THE ARTS.
JESSICA, ABCI SUPPORTS NON-PROFIT PROJECTS IN THE VISUAL ARTS AS WELL AS ART-RELATED SYMPOSIA, AND ART EVENTS. IN AMERICA, WE HAVE ESTABLISHED BY-LAWS THAT DETERMINE IF AN ORGANIZATION IS NON-PROFIT. IS THAT TRUE ON A GLOBAL SCALE, AND IF NOT, HOW DOES ABCI DECIDE UPON THE ELIGIBILITY OF A PROPOSAL?
This is a very interesting and difficult topic. The preponderance of what are called “hybrid models” makes the eligibility requirements somewhat sticky in regions that don’t have nonprofit or charity tax status designations. So for organizations from places like America, they absolutely must be 501c3, and likewise, organizations in Europe, Australia, Canada and the UK must also have the official “charity” tax status. But we’ve found that in regions like Central and South America and South East Asia, where the government support for the arts is almost nonexistent, these organizations have a hybrid gallery/nonprofit model where they must sell art and do commercial projects in order to make money for the organization to continue operating. The jury absolutely takes the context of the region into consideration when determining an organization’s eligibility. It has been really exciting to be able to work with hybrid organizations in places like Guatemala and Sri Lanka who must be very creative in how they raise money, and generally exhibit quite inspiring leadership and creativity. This is the only way that these organizations can look to be self-sustaining.
WHEN DID ART BASEL ESTABLISH ITS CROWDFUNDING INITIATIVE AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROJECTS THAT IT HAS SUPPORTED THUS FAR?
We launched the Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative September 2014 and have since supported 28 projects from organizations in North America, South America, Europe, South East Asia, South Asia, and Africa. We have projects from Central America and the Middle East coming up on deck for later this year.
HOW ARE THE PROJECTS PUBLICIZED IN ORDER TO REACH ART LOVERS AND PATRONS?
Communications-wise, Art Basel sends out a dedicated Crowdfunding newsletter to our VIPs once every 2 months, we promote each project on our social media channels, and the projects get featured on Kickstarter’s website as well. We ask our regional VIP relations managers to act as ambassadors on behalf of projects coming from their region and activate their local networks. Something we started in Basel, which was very successful and we now intend to continue at all of our fairs, is to allow any nonprofit organization we have worked with, including ones that have been approved to launch campaigns in the future, to activate the crowdfunding booth in whatever way they feel productive – panel discussions, performances, talks or video screenings about their projects. This brings awareness to their organization and an opportunity to engage in an analog format with an interested audience.
HOW DOES AN INDIVIDUAL DONATE TO THE INITIATIVE, TO A SPECIFIC PROJECT OR TO THE CONCEPT IN GENERAL?
Anyone can donate by selecting a specific project and entering an amount of money. Each projects offers rewards at various tiers so you can select a reward that interests you and donate the corresponding amount. You can also choose to donate as much or as little as you’d like without selecting any reward. You can’t donate to the crowdfunding initiative in general because part of the goal is to engage people in art projects around their world or close to home.
THE PROJECTS ARE GLOBAL IN SCOPE. HOW DO YOU SEEK OUT PROJECTS AND DEAL WITH AN IMMENSE SCOPE OF BOTH GEOGRAPHICAL AND AESTHETIC POSSIBILITIES?
You’re absolutely right there are no geographical or aesthetic limitations and it is important to us that we represent the global art world in the scope of our initiative. We accept applications from any eligible nonprofit and utilize Kickstarter’s and our own expertise to work with these organizations to create a project with their own goals and priorities that will also best position them for success on Kickstarter’s platform.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEEN REALIZED?
Flora Ars + Natura in Bogota has built a new library and community space, Gasworks in London has built new artist residency studios, SASSAS in Los Angeles commissioned a free public outdoor sound art concert, and San Art in Vietnam funded 3 artists in residence.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GOALS THAT YOU HAVE TO EXPAND ART BASEL CROWDFUNDING?
We want to work with bigger institutions, achieve greater sums of money, and always strive for the greatest impact with powerful projects. We hope to maintain relationships with these organizations and integrate them, their programming, and their inspiring stories into the fair.
JESSICA, THANK YOU SO MUCH. HOPEFULLY THESE POSTS WILL BRING EVEN MORE ATTENTION AND SUPPORT TO THE ART BASEL CROWDFUNDING INITIATIVE.
ONCE THE TSUNAMI OF MIAMI ART BASEL RETREATS, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TOWARDS THE HOLIDAYS. ONE OF MY GREATEST PLEASURES IS THINKING UP AND ASSEMBLING A GIFT FOR SOMEONE SPECIAL A GREAT RESOURCE FOR UNIQUE GIFT-GIVING IS URSUS BOOKS, OFFERING ONE OF A KIND ARTISTS’ BOOKS OF BEAUTY AND RARITY. TO HONOR WHAT IS NOW AN “ANNUAL TRADITION”, IN THE NEXT POSTS, THE LRFA BLOG WILL COLLABORATE WITH DOUG FLAMM OF URSUS TO EXPLORE THIS YEAR’S AMAZING SELECTION.