One of the nice things about the Kickstarter platform is that it’s been around long enough to accumulate some meaningful data on funding and the arts. It’s also got a handy tool to look at past funding efforts. Baltimore Dance only has 22 projects, so it’s not a huge set of data to work with, but it’s something. Keep that in mind – small data set = big errors. A lot of “theater” projects could be dance performance projects, and they are not included, and, in contrast, several of these “Dance” projects are related to dance, but not dance performance (there’s a costume fundraiser and a film project in there). So again, lots of error. Having said all that, is there anything meaningful to learn? Probably…
We’ve touched on Kickstarter before, but today’s exercise is about how Kickstarter has worked for dance in Baltimore, so I won’t be addressing any specific projects or people. I’m also going to exclude the film and travel efforts and try to focus on dance performance efforts. They overlap, so it’s a judgement call, and we’re left with 16 of 22 original projects. 11 successfully funded projects and 5 unsuccessfully funded projects remain. That screen drops just one successfully funded project, so that speaks well of Baltimore performance efforts. Data goes back to 2010, so that leaves us with:
2012/2013 was peak funding year for dance in Baltimore, with 8 projects launched and 7 successfully funded. Since then, Baltimore dance activity on Kickstarter has dropped dramatically, but it’s impossible to know why. Has Baltimore (or dance) moved to other crowd-sourcing platforms? Fewer productions that require funding? Has other funding appeared? Is the Kickstarter overhead too much to bear with local dance economics?
Within this set of successfully funded projects, the average contribution was just a bit over $80 ($80.04, range $35.73 – $160.81) from just under 60 backers (58.4, range 7-237). Also interesting, within successful projects, the total raised averaged 120% of the funding requested, with 3 of 11 reaching 130+%. When Kickstarter works for Baltimore dance, it works well.
When Kickstarter doesn’t work for dance, it’s pretty dramatic. None of the 5 unsuccessfully-funded efforts on Kickstarter had more than 9 backers and none of them even reached 20% of their funding goal. Again, it’s impossible to know precisely what is behind this result. There’s a general conclusion even without more information – if you’re on a crowd-sourced funding platform, you really need access to a crowd.