Archive for the ‘The Arts’ Category

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 3)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This is the third interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Fiona Kearney ran the Mixtapes Fund It. Previous interviews: Philly McMahon, Ebby Brett.

Mixtapes Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Mixtapes, why use the Fund It route?

1. Curiosity about trying a new way of fundraising (was aware of Kickstarter in US)
2. opportunity to reach new audiences
3. Create ownership of project among a large set of investors

What would Fund It allow you to do that you couldn’t do previously?

Good to be part of bigger cultural fundraising framework. Enabled migration of investors across artforms Greater impact possible as part of wider online and print media conversation

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive?

Treated it as part of our social media conversation so kept it informal and hopefully informative. Didn’t overload the updates as I got a bit frustrated with overly keen fundraisers constantly in my inbox.

Had fantastic advice from FundIt administrators on how to pitch campaign – they helped us to make it more punchy and appealing to general audience.

Had investors lined up from family and friends at start of campaign to ensure initial investment. Sought support from board throughout. That was pretty much the plan.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

Our project was a genuine make or break. No funding, no book. Not sure if that is case for all the FundIt projects – some seem to seek funding for things that would happen anyway. I think the new creative projects are more compelling.

Any other thoughts on Fund It you’d like to share?

I’ve been really pleased to see projects I’ve funded succeed and particularly appreciate those that follow up with rewards well. I think it is a great way to give people a taste of the delights of philanthropic giving and the possibility of creating an impact with quite modest sums.

I think I could see myself giving people gifts from Fund It – that’s perhaps something that could be developed by the admins of the site

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 2)

Monday, November 21st, 2011

This is the second interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Ebby Brett is working on his Wires project right now. Previous interview: Philly McMahon.

Ebby Brett Wires - Fund It

You’ve used Fund It for Wires, why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to using Fund It?

Previously, I’d been involved in the recording of an independently released EP, and a lot of home studio recording, but when it came to starting to decide to record my own record I knew I would need to use a studio. Honestly, I’m pretty crap at recording myself, and I wanted to be sure that if I was going to sell something that it was going to be a decent quality recording. Any of the home recording I had done just wasn’t giving me something I was happy with. Over the years I’ve spent a fair bit of money putting together a decent home studio set up, and in the end I just had to admit that the problem wasn’t the gear, but rather that I just didn’t have that talent for recording myself. I can’t split my brain in two and think like an engineer as I’m trying to also be a musician recording a track.

The costs of recording a full record in the studio are pretty high for a self employed music teacher, so I’d already been looking at sites such as Kickstarter, who were facilitating some very successful crowdfunding campaigns. I knew that roughly half the projects on that site manage to cross their target, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one.

My plan from the outset was to try and cover half the costs myself, and half the costs some other way. I’d already been investigating various crowdfunding options when I heard Fund:it was being launched, which grabbed my interest immediately as it is aimed at projects based in Ireland. I had a few days of studio time behind me and a good sense of how quickly I worked, so I was able to work out a pretty accurate budget.

The appeal of a crowdfunding project to me, was the fact that you weren’t simply just pre-selling the album for a set fee, or going into debt hoping sales will pull you back out, but more that you were giving people a way to feel that they were involved in the creation of the album in some way, as opposed to just being customers or fans. I’ll have to look up the link, but one soundbite that stuck in my head from someone at Kickstarter was about how people were getting more out of feeling involved in the creation of the project than just the outcome itself.

I waited a while before submitting a proposal to Fund:it, and I took the time to look at other projects from all sections of the site. I played things rather cautiously, and reworked my proposal a few times, and ran it by other people before submitting.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

Setting up is ok, that’s true, and in many ways, that is the easy part. But you also can’t change the wording of anything after it is submitted, so you really need to be sure that what you’re submitting will read well, look well, and represent your project well. I had some great feedback from some friends, and then after submitting the project, it was sent back to me twice with further suggestions and helpfully pointing out some things I had overlooked. That was brilliant feedback to get. It was straight to the point, completely focused, and spot on.

But, you are right, after then, there is the constant promotion of the project, and trying to get people to hear about it. The folk at Fund:it were very keen to make note when the project was submitted and going to finally be live on the site, that you really had to work to get it across the line. You couldn’t just throw a project up there and expect it to succeed. I had another level of that myself already, as I knew I was an unknown newbie Irish singer-songwriter trying to get money to record an album. It’s not an easy sell.

I had a very rough plan of action for how to promote it: daily status updates on Twitter & Facebook at different times. Blog posts in more depth, cross-posted to LiveJournal. Forums and other online communities I’m already a member of. However, I was constantly looking at how I could be promoting it better, how I could word things better, how to reach specific groups of people and so on. In short, I was trying to make sure everyone I interacted with online over the last decade and a half had an opportunity to find out about the project.

I was posting a link at least once a day on my twitter, personal facebook account, and music page on facebook. I was also keen to vary up what I was posting in these links, alternating linking to the project directly with a link to the list of people who had already pledged to the campaign. I varied what times of day I was posting the links, as everyone has different online reading habits. As it happens, my funders stretch from Alaska to Sydney. I didn’t want to just post a link at lunchtime Irish time every day, for example, and just piss off the same people who check their twitter at lunchtime every day. It was the driving influence in how I updated those sites, and when – I took stock of what annoyed me the most as a reader, and avoided it.

I made missteps early on, and changed my mind about a few things – for example, I took inspiration from thisispopbaby who endeavoured to thank as many funders either on twitter or facebook as possible, which I thought was a wonderful personal touch. But I just didn’t handle it as well as they did, and ended up tagging people in thank you status updates on facebook which felt a bit spammy to me. But I just reworked what I was doing, and turned every update into a thank you of some kind instead. I was keen to not go down the “give me your money” route, or come across as begging in any way. So instead, I made the conscious choice to use any updates to thank people who had already become involved in the project, give an update on the positive amount pledged so far, and stay away from saying things from a negative or needy point of view as much as possible.

On top of those social networking updates, I was also running a few small facebook ad campaigns for the facebook music page, targeting specific groups of people based on music artists similar to my own style of music. I ran a few that were Ireland specific, and a few that were targeting other countries. I kept the budget really low, and was surprised by the reach of some of the campaigns. These were a bigger success than I imagined, and I saw a significant impact over the fortnight that I had them run. It also translated into pledges more than expected. Some facebook friends hadn’t known of my music page, and it was a way for them to find out about it, and that I was trying to record an album. Others were complete strangers who discovered my music, and saw the link to the fund:it campaign and ended up pledging almost right away.

What I think was key at that point was that I’d already done 5 days in the studio, I’d tracked the piano and vocals for about three quarters of the record, and I was able to edit together two lots of clips giving 30secs or so of the work on each track to date. People could hear the music, and hear how it was sounding in the studio, read that I needed funding to help finish off what they were listening to, and make the decision based on something more tangible than a project description or a short video.

From watching some of the other fund:it projects, and even afterwards again now, you can see that people are more likely to back a winning horse, as such. If they see a lot of people getting involved, or that a project is getting close to its target, they’re much more likely to throw a bit of cash at it too.

I also had my website, which cross-posts to my old livejournal account, and to my facebook page too, so I was trying to post updates on the fund:it campaign as well as other posts about the days in the studio prior to the campaign kicking off. (I should probably point out that I wasn’t in studio at all for the duration of the fund:it project, as I couldn’t allow myself to take full days off from promoting it.) I knew I had still a small audience of readers on livejournal, and people I’d interacted with back in the heyday of my posting on that site did get involved with the campaign and did pledge, much to my delight, to be honest. My aim with the blog posts was to give more of an insight into the work in the studio, and a more detailed update on the fund:it campaign.

The final places that I was targeting were forums that I was a member of. I didn’t use that much, as I’ve never really used those forums much, and I figured if I read posts from a member with under 30 posts in 5 years, who was looking for people to go give them money, I’d probably ignore it too. So, I just posted a thread in the musicians promo forum about my music, linking to the site and social links. But, I’ve been a member of a vibrant forum community for over a decade. There’s a thread there devoted to the musicians and musicmakers on the site, so I was updating that with what was going on with me, as well as simply linking in my sig to the fundit campaign. And the support from members on that forum was far more than I had anticipated, with members of that forum actively sharing the fund:it link on their facebook and twitter accounts, multiple times a week. That kind of support is unreal, as I’d see one of them would have already posted the link on facebook by the time I’d logged in to go and post it myself, for example, and that was really heartening.

On top of all that, I contacted a few people aiming to run a competition to randomly reward pledgers to the campaign at certain points. I was thrilled when the Galway Film Fleadh got back in touch and offered me tickets to give away, and wishing me luck with the campaign. That was wonderful – I had to sets of tickets to give away, and I was keen to reward the people who’d gotten involved early in the campaign, so gave away one set after two weeks, and the other set a week later – a whole week before the project was due to finish. I figured that way, even if I didn’t reach my target and the project failed, I was able to say thank you in a small way to some of the people who were pledging money in the very early stages.

I did also email music bloggers, and all of that stuff, but I knew I was an unknown running a similar project to a few much bigger names, and the chances of getting any coverage were going to be slim. I also sent messages directly to some friends who I knew were quite influential in their friend circles, to ask them in person if they wouldn’t mind helping me out with spreading the project around.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

You will always be surprised by where support comes from.

Reassess everything you’re doing to promote it. Every few days I was looking at what I was already doing, and what else I could do. Getting advice from friends, looking at what other projects were doing, reading up about musicians who were successfully promoting themselves online, and following their twitter feeds to see how they worked, and adapting that for my own personality.

Don’t just expect your fans, friends, family, or followers to just give you money because the fund:it project is running. One of my favourite twitter followers, who I’ve met IRL a few times, and interacted with a lot, didn’t even know about my fund:it campaign until the last few days. You can be promoting the hell out of something, but it can slip some people by, or get lost in the surge of updates on twitter or not be included in the “top news” feed on facebook. Just because you’ve posted it doesn’t mean anyone has read it. I emailed a friend about the project, but he was heading away on holidays, and even after he came back it took him two weeks to get through his email inbox and discover the project a day too late.

Have some other ideas to fall back on if your project doesn’t reach the target. Try to have something that gives a good idea of what the project is. I noticed a bigger interest after I had sample clips available that gave an idea of what the album was going to sound like.

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 1)

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

When Fund It was announced ages back along with other grant announcements like 180k on a hologram about Irish Coffee, I was slightly cynical. Sure it was just a clone of Kickstarter. And it was and is.

Fund It though is localised and with it, it has a vibrant community of people in the arts, trying to build creative or crazy projects with the help of the general public. I’ve been impressed with the way people are taking to it both as those soliciting funds and those contributing 5 euros, 10 euros or 500 euros. I’ve asked three people who have used Fund It for projects to share their thoughts on using Fund It. To note: I started writing this post in August and have finally had time to put it all together now.

I interviewed Philly McMahon from ThisIsPopBaby about Year of Magical Wanking, Eamonn Brett for his Wires project and Fiona Kearney from Lewis Glucksman Gallery about Mixtapes. I got very detailed answers back from everyone so I’m splitting this into three parts. First up is Philly, tomorrow will be Ebby and the next day will be Fiona.

Year of Magical Wanking and Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Year of Magical Wanking, anything else?

I lead the Year Of Magical Wanking campaign, and have advised the Late Fragments as well as some smaller advice to Paper Dolls.

Why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to this?

For theatre, some other options are:

  • Apply to the Arts Council for a grant.
  • Don’t do the show.
  • Do the show with everyone working for free as well as beg borrowing and stealing equipment, props etc.

Fund It allows a project to reward people who wish to pledge money to their campaign. If the rewards are good enough, then it becomes less about charity and more of an exchange. For emerging companies or for projects that are unlikely to be eligible for public funding, Fund It offers an opportunity to raise all or part of the money needed to get a project off the ground. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of a Pub Quiz fundraiser – only now you don’t have to go to a boring quiz, and you might actually ‘win’ something you want.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

There is a lot of work involved in creating your project. It’s good to make a video specific to your campaign – writing clear copy for your homepage and working on rewards that are worth pledging cash for but are also achievable (while not burning a giant hole in the total you’ve raised – there’s no point in raising 3k and spending half of it issuing rewards). Once the campaign is created, I would advise making a plan of how to roll out your campaign – how to keep it fresh and afloat for the time period you’ve chosen. We had a full plan of how, who and when we were updating social media sites, direct mails, mailshots etc etc. You have to constantly drive the campaign.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

I’m not entirely sure about lessons learned. there’s very little that I wouldn’t do again. my main advice is to choose a realistic target – ask yourself who is going to pledge money to your campaign and why. I’d advise people to have a really good campaign video – really clear copy (be economic with words – no waffle). Identify who is rolling out your project – there may be ten people involved but only four might be web savvy, so who is gonna drive the thing? I would advise people to question their social media networks – do they have enough friends, fans and followers to warrant sufficient interest in the project? And also to use Fund It as a way of giving friends and family an outlet to support their work. After that – my advice is to sit on the project until the very last day. it can be hard work – but no-one gets thousands of euros easily. Thank people, acknowledge people and be grateful. People are parting with hard earned cash – it’s incredible.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

I think Fund It has some other plusses. For theatre, I believe it’s a way of cultivating an audience. Before a show opens you already have X amount of ambassadors who will not only buy a ticket, but they’ll bring friends. They’ll tell people about this project they’ve invested in and they’ll talk about it. I also think it’s interesting to invite people to take a closer look at the artistic process – let them know how much things cost and how things are made. It can make the art form seem far less elite, and certainly for me that’s important.

Trade – A review

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Trade – another ThisIsPopBaby production. I left this as a Tripadvisor review, the screenshot and text is below. Currently the review is pending in Tripadvisor.


Trade – Written by Mark O’Halloran

Perhaps this review makes it through, perhaps not but I figured that this site-specific play set in a B&B could just as easily be reviewed on Tripadvisor.

This is a play about a client and his rentboy, set in a room in a B&B and going over the thoughts, backgrounds and motivations of the two characters. A slow uncomfortable build up with mostly the “client” moving this play forward and squeezing out the backstory of both characters. Hang your comfort levels with your coat in the hall before coming in while inside you’ll become completely sucked in by this play.

Directed by Tom Creed, Designed by Ciarán O’Melia and Produced by Phillip McMahon, something worth experiencing if you are lucky enough to get tickets


Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Follow. At the Fringe this year, be great to get them down to Cork.

Shane’s parents are deaf. He grew up in a house with doorbell lights and subtitles on the TV. A house where to be heard, you had to be seen. Follow him to a place where languages collide. Where the lights are so bright you can’t see to speak. Where sound is just a feeling and signs are all around. Close your ears, cover your eyes. Come to the Deaf Disco. We’ll see you there

Follow Trailer from José Miguel Jiménez on Vimeo.

A year in an hour and a bit

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

If you were to bump into this witty and cultured guy at a friend’s party and think he’s a good laugh and he invites some friends and you to another party, you take his car and on the way to this other gaff you realise it’s not his car, he just lifted keys from the original party and he’s actually on second thoughts a bit mental and with a scary dark side and you have no idea where the fuck you’ll end up or if you’ll escape, then you’re slightly experiencing the genius that is Neil Watkins and his play The Year of Magical Wanking. And if you only breathe out after that last full stop, this is what the play will do to you. You can’t be prepared, so go with it. Funny, scary, intelligent and with spit in your face honesty. It could just be a little bit liberating.

Runs 9-17 September 2011 in Project Arts Centre. Tickets on sale from Absolut Fringe Dublin 2011.

This is the new trailer.

And this is just five minutes of what you’ll be experiencing:

Fuckoffier – #mulleycomic 2

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

The next version of the Mulley Comic is plonking down on doorsteps about now. First one is here.

Thanks to Nick and Dena who didn’t know how they’d be presented.

Also thanks to the companies in the comic for investing in good old product placement. Voice-over Bloke. Curious Cupcakes. MadeInHollyWood. John Blackbourn. Blacknight. made by Keith and Anthony also features. And of course we all <3

A bit of end of business year fun.





Ink/Drawing by the legendary Tommie “jetpack” Kelly

Gil Scott-Heron “New York Is Killing Me” Chris Cunningham Remix

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

From MoMA

Dublin Tweasurehunt, the second coming on Saturday

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

After the good feedback of the first one, we have another Tweasurehunt planned for this Saturday. More clues, more fun. Prizes too. And all for free and you might encounter some interesting cultural elements in Dublin City Centre too.

You don’t really need to know Dublin well, street names perhaps, if you’re weak on this, why not join up with someone that is?

Sign up by leaving a comment on the post over here.

iPads and the future of news and media

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

I’m talking at the Media 2020 conference on Tuesday. I’ll be talking about gadgets and showing off my iPad but here’s my take on the silliness around iPad being the new Christ.

The deathnote for news has been served. So some are running off to the iPad and thinking that will save them and others are looking at paywalls, again. Marc Andreessen suggests burning the boats and going web only. Let management have a viking funeral too.

A touchscreen interface to your milquetoast content will not save your business.
A paywall to content that is far from unique or of value will not save your business.
Wordpress powered jaded content is still jaded content.
Has 3D saved the movie industry?

We’ve gone from storytelling to writings on parchment to printed missives to audio to audio and video to digital to multi-way interaction to a world now where something that fits in a pocket takes in data, sends out location data, takes audio, video, pictures, is manipulated by us, is shared with the world, shared and taken back into the device. Within seconds. We overshare on Facebook and generate our own news like we always have. “Any news?” we are asked. Do we respond with what we heard on the radio?

News should be getting richer and more multi-faceted every year and instead the past few decades it’s become homogenised. So yeah while starving yourself of oxegen got your rocks off for a while, it has also killed you. Ask Michael Hutchence and David Carradine.

Photo owned by nDevilTV (cc)

Why are news and media trying to barely iterate on what they are doing when there are devices out there that are not iterations of a previous device but big leaps and you don’t take advantage? The iPad is then going to take what it has now and iterate on that over years. Adapt to change. It hasn’t got multitasking, a camera, USB ports, is certainly not open yet is still vastly superior to anything out there. There are already amazing applications on it. Yet bringing in a new paperboy to deliver the newspaper to the door isn’t going to save you folks, is it?

Popular Science, Coolhunting and that Alice in Wonderland interactive book have been lauded as great so far for iPad but they’re on a device that’s a fraction of one percent of the people that daily consume media. If you wait for all of them to go all iPad buying then you’ll be very broke. Innovate what you’re doing, not how you deliver.

So all these huge news organisations in Ireland, all moaning about crime and gangland bladey blah. Not one has a Google map, mapping out the places where the violence happened. Not one has done interactive timelines. A multimedia world and we’re getting black and white single layer analog content or chirping about RTÉ.ie being a threat.

All could have been iterating their way to the full multimedia experience one gets with an iPad. Nah. Here’s an RSS feed and iPhone app that puts our content in a smaller window. Fa ab.

Look at the big bad content producers online right now. Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes and all those other places of noise and mess. Look how much Facebook will make this year compared to the New York Times. While NBC or CBS kick their ass, look at the growth rate. Look at how much Apple has made from selling content and apps. I’m doubting the future of news will come from those in news right now or the trail blazing elitists that believe they’re better than their traditional media peers cos they have a blog and better than bloggers because they have a piece of paper that certifies they can type and press record on an mp3 recorder. You’re still the system, you just wear a silly cape around the office. Look to those who caused a stir online already and have a grasp of a business model used this century, not one that worked 200 years ago. Or actually know what a business model is.

At the end of the day the reason for the failure is this: It’s your stupid content, stupid