Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

ART ANYWHERE: Cultural events organization Free Range Asheville represents Estelle Woodward Arnal and Jeff Arnal's shared dream of "contributing thoughtful programs that complement the vibrant cultural community in Asheville." They hope to keep both programming and venue selections eclectic. Image from Free Range'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.

Free Range Asheville

Ashevilleans by way of Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Estelle Woodward Arnal and Jeff Arnal are launching “a nimble [arts] organization that offers programs in a variety of settings ranging from under-utilized commercial spaces [to] traditional performance venues and natural environments throughout the WNC region. Our vision is to create access points to culture that cross disciplines, traditions and genres for people of all ages and economic backgrounds.” Programming will feature creative performers and “cultural thinkers,” according to the duo’s campaign page, which notes that events will cost $10 or less to attend. So far, the Arnals have planned 2016 appearances by pianist, teacher and writer Jonathan Biss and saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark, but Free Range’s inaugural occasion is a classical chamber music performance by The Knights at The Diana Wortham Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The two have begun rallying financial support from businesses offline, but they also aim to raise $10,000 by Monday, Feb. 1, to help cover their first season’s artist fees and production costs while keeping ticket prices low.

Corey Williams’ photography startup

Local arts enthusiast Corey Williams is setting out to launch his own photography service ShotByYams. “I know it’s really popular these days, but this is something I’ve committed myself to since I was a child,” he writes on the campaign page. Furthermore, the 22 year-old says struggles with gender dysphoria and borderline personality disorder have steered him away from a nine-to-five job. “I’d like to be able to spend 2016 finally doing something I love that helps me deal with my mental issues and have time to spend with my family.” Another goal, he says, is “to help young people of color dealing with mental illnesses get involved in art.” Williams already owns a camera, software and some hardware, but he aims to raise $1,000 by Wednesday, Feb 3, to purchase a backdrop and extra lighting. Eventually, he plans to lease studio space.

Image courtesy of ShotByYams

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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