Museum ‘Money Bombs’?

29 02 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraising lately (it’s kind-of my job.) My organization (DAM Contemporaries) is  discussing, like so many others, how to effectively fundraise in a changing world. And I’m not just talking about the economic climate, although it’s certainly a central issue. I’m talking about crowd-sourcing.

We can no longer ignore the power of crowd-sourced fundraising. From the ongoing success of political candidates’ ‘money bombs’ to the meteoric rise of Kickstarter it’s time non-profits took notice and learned how to bridle this power for themselves.

Take Ron Paul: his January 2012 money bomb raised $1.7 million over just one weekend. That’s serious money.

Or take Kickstarter: it is expected to provide more funding to the arts than the NEA this year.* That’s serious funding.

While non-profits cannot utilize Kickstarter itself, what is keeping us from creating money bomb fundraising campaigns in the same vein as Kickstarter? Donors love to know where their money is going, and what better way to show them exactly what they are funding than to define a very specific project for them to contribute to, at whatever level they are comfortable with?

The underlying paradigm shift here is that we could be continuing to democratize the arts with this shift in fundraising, much as I’ve already talked about with curating.

Museum peeps, what are your thoughts? Should museums try to money bomb?

*Read about this particular topic on this blog post from Talking Points Memo.

Updated 3/8/12:

The American Association of Museums Trendswatch 2012 just came out with a feature on crowd-sourced fundraising, or as they call it ‘crowdfunding’. Check out the report here: http://futureofmuseums.org/reading/publications/upload/TrendsWatch2012.pdf You’ll find the article on crowdfunding on page 14.

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How do you use ‘curate’?

20 11 2009

I will begin this experiment in blogging by presenting an article for thought and discussion: this article from the New York Times discusses the opening-up of the word ‘curate’ in popular culture. One excerpt I find particularly worth exploring is:

The word “curate,” lofty and once rarely spoken outside exhibition corridors or British parishes, has become a fashionable code word among the aesthetically minded, who seem to paste it onto any activity that involves culling and selecting. In more print-centric times, the term of art was “edit” — as in a boutique edits its dress collections carefully.

But now, among designers, disc jockeys, club promoters, bloggers and thrift-store owners, curate is code for “I have a discerning eye and great taste.”

To my mind this brings up two important issues:

One is that this is an open critique of the perceived authority of the museum and it’s curators. Which is ok by me.

However, the other issue I see here is that this could be a dangerous development in reinforcing the perceived elite status and ultimately establishing an authority among those who ‘curate’. As the final sentence of the quote points out ‘curate’ is evolving to mean ‘having great taste’.

What are your thoughts?








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