Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

A DOWNTOWN DESTINATION: ZaPow Gallery exhibits the work of dozens of artists on a rotating basis. "A big part of why people come to Asheville is for unique art and craft experiences. I've lost count of the number of times gallery guests have enthusiastically exclaimed that ZaPow is their favorite gallery and a must-visit on their regular trips to our city," says ZaPow artist Greg Vineyard. Image from Zapow Gallery'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.

ZaPow Gallery’s move

Zapow Gallery founder Lauren Johnson Patton got a sobering email regarding her lease renegotiation on June 12. Within it, her art collective’s landlord provided two options: accept a 22-percent increase in rent and pay an additional $6,000 security deposit (among other terms) by the end of June or forfeit the downtown location that, since 2011, has housed ZaPow’s mix of illustration, narrative and pop art. Patton reacted by alerting several media outlets and posting a crowdfunding page to cover the unforseen costs, whether from staying or moving. She told WLOS that the rent spike was due to a projected increase in foot traffic in the area (ZaPow is around the block from Cambria Hotel & Suites, a 136-room hotel with a projected opening date in 2017, and near other developments). The landlord’s attorney, however, sent a letter on June 21, announcing the revocation of ZaPow’s lease renewal offer and requesting that all internet posts pertaining to the lease be deleted to avoid a defamation lawsuit, according to a story by Xpress reporter Lee Elliott. “We’re fighting the tidal wave of chains and franchises eager to gobble up tourist dollars in downtown Asheville. The community’s comments about how much they value ZaPow make the fight easier,” Patton says. It’s unclear whether the landlord has a new lessee in mind, but Patton is scoping out the South Slope now that ZaPow’s move is certain. She aims to raise $10,000 to fund the costs of moving into and upfitting a new spot with display walls.

Image from Patton's campaign page
Image from Patton’s campaign page

A Growing Culture

“I’ve traveled all over the world — [to] almost 40 countries, over 3,000 farms. I’ve seen farmers innovating in unbelievable ways that no textbook can teach us,” says Loren Cardeli. In his campaign video, Cardeli calls agribusiness out as being mistakenly credited with feeding the planet. A greater emphasis, he says, should be placed on preserving and dispersing the knowledge of longtime growers. A Growing Culture is his attempt to open those lines of communication, bringing farmers together online to create an interactive, democratically governed digital hub of agricultural know-how. “Corporate technologies being developed today have two purposes: maximizing profit and exclusively controlling the food system. However, grassroots technologies developed by the farmers all over the world are about fostering sustainability and nurturing communities. … Who do you trust to grow your food — agribusiness or farmers?” Cardeli aims to supplement his offline funds, raising $30,000 by Friday, July 1, to develop and implement a platform, add functions that are useful across languages, accommodate off-the-grid users, enroll members and source initial content.

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.

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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