Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Art Basel Meets Kickstarter

Hyperallergic reported this week on an interesting new “partnership” in the arts – between Kickstarter and Art Basel. On its website, Art Basel describes this project as such: “Art Basel and Kickstarter are partnering to catalyze much-needed support for outstanding non-commercial art projects. This new initiative will present jury-selected art projects to a global community of potential benefactors, including Art Basel’s audience and Kickstarter’s community, who have pledged over $1 billion to creative projects. The goal is to support non-profit visual arts organizations, at a time when public funding for the arts has been dwindling, by sharing their stories, generating contributions, and reaching out to new audiences.”

In theory this sounds like a good idea – having a big name arts organization endorse certain artists and art projects will not only bring awareness of these artists to a new, likely wealthy, audience (those who follow and attend Art Basel), and having Art Basel’s name attached will act as credential to those who are less familiar with upcoming artists but want to lend their support. Hyperallergic, clearly, is a bit skeptical. I’m interested in their wording – they don’t actually state that they will be donating anything other than their name, leaving the donating to “Art Basel’s audience and Kickstarter’s community.” It would seem like such a large for-profit organization like Art Basel could endorse these artists by donating themselves (though it’s possible they have donated anonymously and are choosing not to publicize it).

I’m curious what you all think of this collaboration – is it actually beneficial to art nonprofits? Or is it just Art Basel trying to seem more philanthropic without making any kind of real contribution?

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2 comments on “Art Basel Meets Kickstarter

  1. zeniasimpson
    September 16, 2014

    I definitely think that it’s an amazing idea and collaboration but honestly I wouldn’t think that Art Basel truly wants to contribute to the cause. I think that they’re loaning their brand and merging it with the Kickstarter brand to add a new element to Art Basel. This is sort of like how the Armoy Show added Focus that focused on contemporary art, mostly large installations. It makes the fairs not seem like shopping malls for art, but rather cultural epicenters. This is an amazing idea and I hope that it really starts a new revolution in arts patronage.

  2. sobashhere
    September 18, 2014

    The last line of Josh MacPhee’s quote really resonated in this article: “When a project’s funding depends on bending the ear of the mainstream media, Kickstarter will no longer be a tool for the aspiring artist or amateur filmmaker, but just another way for those already laden with cultural or actual capital to attract more of it.”

    I’ve contributed to artists I support via Kickstarter but I’m more familiar with a similar site, Indiegogo for personal artistic projects. I think it has been a great tool the emerging artists. I think the implications for celebrities and high profile companies using the site are dire. It will affect the response for those using the tool as an emerging resource. I think its very interesting to explore when an organization has succeeded the period of crowdsourcing. Is it a tool that should continue to be available for all or is it something we have a societal understanding of as a means for less established organizations?

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