Posted By Amy Bowie
Dance and Disruptive Collaboration through Crowdfunding

My name is Amy Bowie and I’m part of the PledgeMe team here in Christchurch, but I wear several hats. I’m the Festival Coordinator for The Body Festival of Dance and Physical Theatre here in Christchurch, and the other, as Project Coordinator for The Dance and Physical Theatre Trust and the South Island Dance Network.

Anna asked me to write a blog on dance and crowdfunding, but I’ve decided to make this a double-whammy on all of my job fronts. Just ‘cos I can. I’m going to tell you:
a) about one of the most exciting events in this year’s Body Festival  (BOOK YOUR TICKET!)

and b) about one of the most exciting events in last year’s festival.

WHY?!

Because

a) The event in this year’s festival was crowd funded.

b) The event in last year’s festival has gone on to bigger things with Crowdfunding through PledgeMe.

What AM I going ON about?

Let’s start with the event in this year’s festival, Virtuosi. The first I heard of this dance film was when I had started my new job for The Dance and Physical Theatre Trust at the beginning of this year. The boss asked me to share the link around, explaining to me that it was the Festival’s ‘World Premiere’.  Wow. A World Premiere at my job?! – COOL!

Thanks to her awesome crowdfunders,  Sue met her goal of $8,020 AUD on Sponsume, and has made her deadline for The Body Festival. We are proud that VIRTUOSI is the FIRST EVER film to be screened in Alice In Videoland’s new 38 seat boutique Cinema on 22 September… “Alice’s Cinematheque”… yet another sign that Christchurch is getting back on its feet.

So, Sponsume worked well for Sue, but why should she have chosen PledgeMe instead?

HAHA.

I might be a member of the PledgeMe team but there is NO WAY that I am going to tell you that you HAVE TO choose PledgeMe over another crowd funding platform, because it has thousands of tiny luminous spheres and will make you say: ” AHHHHHHHHHHH!”. I might tell you it is “As Seen on TV” – because it has been on TV… but otherwise,  I’m simply going to say, there are a lot of funding platforms out there, and PledgeMe is but one of these. It might not be right for your project. Then again – it might be.  DO YOUR RESEARCH. (ps. You will find that Sponsume is $AUD… suiting Sue, based in Sydney…PledgeMe is $NZD…)

So. How is PledgeMe REALLY doing?

After seeing some failed projects on PledgeMe, I’ve had people say to me: “PledgeMe…well… yeah…maybe not doing so well?”

My reply:  “Actually, I saw an amazing piece of theatre. Actually, I’m going to say that it was the most amazing piece of theatre I have EVER seen. I went along not knowing AT ALL that it had been funded by PledgeMe (I’d been off the radar for a while with some other work) – until I read the programme and gasped. The play was called MUNTED and it was this documentary theatre piece and the people who had been documented were sitting in the audience and it was totally amazing and and and…” (don’t get me started about this amazing work.)

I wonder if Bare Hunt Collective’s ‘MUNTED’ would have ever been seen in the city it was written for – if it hadn’t have been for PledgeMe, a New Zealand Platform for a New Zealand Story documenting real New Zealanders and their response to the Christchurch Earthquake.? It was enormously risky . How could the MUNTED team successfully carry-off performing/mimicking ‘real’ people, as captured on camera, discussing their earthquake experiences, in front of those real people  – as their audience? How could they perform this play in front of a Christchurch audience who were still going through much of this on an every day basis, when some of the team were not from Christchurch/ didn’t live here anymore? How could they get up and perform all of this in front of a father and sister who lost their son and brother in the earthquake, and the people who were there amongst the rubble and the bodies?

Most of the audience remained for a lengthy question and answer session afterwards in which many revealed the ways in which the play had touched them, or encouraged them to see themselves, and the others around them,  in a different light. Many called for the play to be performed in New Zealand schools. The father of the young actor who had been killed in the Earthquake wished to see further development of the play (which the actors described as a ‘work in progress’) – after having arrived “ready to walk out. How DARE you?! How DARE you do this?! Here?! In Christchurch! ”

Do you DARE? 
Earlier this year, Ann Dewey and Spinning Sun Dance Company dared to ask for help to get their amazing show ‘Shine Lady’ , which they performed in last year’s ‘Body Festival’ – to Europe. Already aware of other Crowd Funding Sites- they turned to PledgeMe as they were happy to see crowd funding had finally arrived in New Zealand. They reached their goal… and made it to the Sziget Festival in Hungary, funding the wages of the professional dancers in the company through PledgeMe.

Those of us involved in any form of performance in NZ know that performers’ wages are often the last thing considered in the course of things…. and can be the most difficult thing to obtain sufficient funding for.  As a singer-songwriter, I have been asked to perform and/or write on countless occasions, for minimal or no fee, and for gratis usages of my music.  But is this right for young, professionally trained creatives such as myself? For creatives who have worked professionally in the past ? For creatives who deserve the right to continue working as a professional?  For University Graduates who have majored in Performance/Filmmaking/Composition? For Graduates of Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School (like those who wrote and performed in MUNTED?) For graduates of Unitec’s degree in Contemporary Dance? For those who have invested tens – if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in their specialist training both in NZ and overseas?

I went to TEDxEQChCh this past Saturday, where Tom Hooper, CEO of The Canterbury Development Corporation talked about the need for “disruptive collaboration” in the local community.

Can we collaborate in  order to disrupt a system of Scarcity Consciousness in the Arts Sector which tells us: You’re all deserving but there isn’t enough to go around. Sorry, You can’t finish. You can’t be too risky. Can’t you save money and ride a bike there? “How DARE you?-  how’s THIS gonna sell? ” You can’t do this for a living” ?

I think the successful projects above demonstrate that we can be successful in disrupting the system. But what they demonstrate more, is the power that collaboration has in disrupting that system.

Counterbalance.

Need some practice?

Get your Skates on!

The Body Festival launches 21 Sept on New Brighton Pier, with a Roller Disco!

1 Comment found

    Olly Ohlson

    Kia ora Amy Bowie and the PledgeMe team
    I’d like to talk an idea over with you Amy so can you call me on 3298 106. I live in Brooklands, Christchurch.
    My cell is 021 1875 057.

    Thanks,
    Olly

    Reply

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