Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

A HELPING HAND: To expand their product offerings, the artists behind The Bright Angle plan to partner with additional glassblowers, leather workers, printmakers, woodworkers, metalsmiths and more makers by the end of this year.
A HELPING HAND: To expand their product offerings, the artists behind The Bright Angle plan to partner with additional glassblowers, leather workers, printmakers, woodworkers, metalsmiths and more makers by the end of this year. Photo from The Bright Angle's campaign page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

The Bright Angle

Between time-worn crafting and the digital realm lies the work of The Bright Angle, a new product design company that incorporates technology like 3D printers into its otherwise handmade, small-batch process. For the past year, The Bright Angle’s interdisciplinary team has been building a studio and developing its inaugural product line, which includes distinctive mugs, hanging planters, a pour-over coffee set, touch lamp and more. Each item, according to the crowdfunding video, is intended to spark joy in everyday routines in addition to lasting over the years. The collective aims to raise $25,000 by Saturday, June 3, to jump-start production of the 15-piece collection and pay to collaborate with outside artists.

Mountain Chamber Jazz Ensemble’s recording project

Prolific jazz pianist and educator Michael Jefry Stevens says he’s composed more than 340 original songs over several decades, and he’s not slowing down. “While I have composed for trios, quartets through octets and big bands, I have long wanted to compose for a large chamber ensemble,” he writes on his crowdfunding page. So, two years ago, he founded the Mountain Chamber Jazz Ensemble, consisting of 15 musicians like cellist Franklin Keel, vibraphone player Jason DeCristofaro and drummer Bill Berg. This year, Stevens is taking his bandmates to Sound Temple Studios, where they’ll record nine of his new compositions, including four with vocals. Stevens has already received a $1,000 grant toward the project, and he aims to raise an additional $6,000 by Friday, June 2, to pay the contributing musicians for spending two nine-hour days in the studio. Beyond that, funds would be used to cover mixing and mastering.

Songbird Sanctuary

Songbird Sanctuary, a new community center in Enka-Candler, is on a mission to “uplift the community with connection with others in a rural setting through coming together for nourishing food, concerts, ceremony, classes, healing sessions and holistic self care,” according to a crowdfunding page for the organization. The current (and only) manager Deanna Rose, who posted the campaign, notes that these gatherings are intended to remain affordable, so scholarships are a necessity. She aims to raise $50,000 toward that plus other expenses like paying teachers, performers and additional staff, funding kids summer camps and daycare services, hosting holistic healthcare classes and buying mushroom logs, art supplies, books, bees and more.

Image from Songbird Sanctuary's campaign page
Image from Songbird Sanctuary’s campaign page

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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