Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

PLAY IT FORWARD: Carl Schmid, local violinist and former heroin addict, will donate five percent of profits from his new business to music-based drug treatment center Recovery Unplugged. He performed there alongside Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler in 2014.

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.

Carolina Master Musicians

“I played Carnegie Hall at 13 — the first of six performances. I went to [The Juilliard School] and Eastman School of Music as well as Lynn University, all on full musical scholarship. I was supposed to be the next famous solo violinist, but drugs took me to the absolute bottom,” says Ashevillean Carl Schmid. “One of the cool parts of sobering up is that I get to be a productive member of society again.” The former heroin addict is going about that by launching a small business that provides music for high-end weddings and corporate events (no bars or late night jobs to protect his sobriety) along with his partner Chris Stokes. In addition to his own ear-searing sounds, he’ll rely on a network of over 100 musicians in various genres to fulfill each customer’s unique vision. To counter the selfishness of addiction, he also stages periodic performances at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The company is “much more than a paycheck for me,” Schmid says. “It’s about giving back freely the gift that was given to me, and giving back to the society I took from for so many years.” Carolina Master Musicians aims to raise $7,500 to record high quality promotional videos, build a website and cover other startup costs.

Mechanical Eye Microcinema

Mechanical Eye Microcinema started off as a roving pop-up theater in 2012, but now the nonprofit is setting up shop in a permanent place: Asheville Area Arts Council’s The Refinery Creator Space. Operating from within the cooperative will allow the Microcinema to “join forces with other interdisciplinary artists in developing community resources for media arts,” according to the crowdfunding page of Charlotte Taylor, who co-founded the cinema with Lisa Sousa. Their plans upon settling in involve amassing a library of filmmaker resources like cameras, editors, rewinders, splicers and more, plus holding screenings, workshops and mixer events. By offering educational opportunities and decreasing financial barriers for filmmakers, the nonprofit will also be a force for racial and gender equality in the field. Mechanical Eye aims to raise $6,850 by Sunday, April 17, to fund the transition and subsequent developments.

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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