Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

The Aquarium is a collaboration of "exceptional musicians, actors, giants, creators, writers, dancers, falcons, prop masters, visual artists, designers and gunslingers," according to project leader Jethro Waters. Photo of select cast and crew from the film's webpage

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 AQUARIUM FILM

Created and led by local multimedia designer Jethro Waters, The Aquarium “revolves around several stories that are bound together through magical realism,” according to the film’s Kickstarter page. Characters range from an archaic, come-to-life iMac, to a fellow who gets “stuck in reverse” from a hex, and all human parts are played by volunteer cast members in the Asheville area. The film, Waters says, is truly independent with video shoots, animation and editing all falling under his own lengthy job description. Waters and his collaborators aim to raise $5,000 by Wednesday, Dec. 10, to obtain a higher quality camera, several microphones and to feed the volunteer crew.

TRAIL BLAZE POSTCARDS

Trail blazes, painted onto trees to prevent hikers from straying off a path, often become worn and weathered over time. Even then, they represent safety and forward progress, according to Asheville-area hiker Brian Beker. They also garner a certain aesthetic from exposure to the elements. “As the blazes weather and age, blend with the bark and fade away, they morph into beautiful little accidental paintings,” Beker says. The outdoorsman plans to photograph such spectacles during winter hikes through the Blue Ridge Mountains and have the images mailed to his Kickstarter campaign supporters as postcards. Beker has already far surpassed his goal of raising $100 by Saturday, Dec. 13, and he will use funds to produce and mail the blaze postcards.

Photo of trail blaze from Beker's Kickstarter page
Photo of trail blaze from Beker’s Kickstarter 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 WNC campaigns 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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4 thoughts on “Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

  1. Dionysis

    While these initiatives seem reasonable, a growing issue with this source of ‘funding’ is an almost complete lack of accountability. Indiegogo is considering some kind of “insurance” against the growing number of scams; Kickstarter hasn’t indicated anything like this yet.

    It seems that this is kind of a high-tech version of panhandling.

    • Kat McReynolds

      Very good point — there is definitely ample opportunity to take advantage of the system and no way to implement a really strong system of accountability without defeating the purpose of reducing the barriers to obtaining funding. Would most creatives be willing to keep good expense records after they’ve already gotten a check? What if they don’t? Should the platforms withhold a portion of funds? Thanks for bringing up the darker side of it all.

      On the other hand, the most successful projects seem to rely on a personal network somewhere during the process. Misusing funds, in those cases, might be more readily apparent to invested onlookers (compared to projects that call on the general public).

      Thanks again for the insight. Feel free to send me any articles you’ve read on the topic (kmcreynolds@mountainx.com). I’m interested to learn more.

      • Kat McReynolds

        On another, less conniving note, what happens when projects accidentally reach economies of scale? The postcards in this article would be a good example, because the cost of printing original postcards would reduce (probably drastically) after participants reach some critical mass. So, if backers are paying $X to cover costs and then the unit costs suddenly decrease, is it ethical to keep that extra sum for some other use?

  2. Dionysis

    “…the most successful projects seem to rely on a personal network somewhere during the process. Misusing funds, in those cases, might be more readily apparent to invested onlookers (compared to projects that call on the general public). ”

    Great point that makes sense. Of course, being “apparent” does not necessarily mean being “accountable” but it would seem to promote honesty.

    “…if backers are paying $X to cover costs and then the unit costs suddenly decrease, is it ethical to keep that extra sum for some other use?”

    I guess as long as this question is addressed up front to all parties (regardless of the specifics) clearly, there would be no ethical issue. It’s another great question.

    “Feel free to send me any articles you’ve read on the topic.”

    I’ve read a few. Here’s a link to one published just today:

    http://gizmodo.com/the-simplest-way-to-stop-crowdfunding-scams-1665674818

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