I once went on a first date with a guy who told me an adorable story from his childhood. From an early age, his mother sat him in front of the television to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. As soon as he could put pen to paper, he began writing Mister Rogers about his favorite books, his reactions to particular episodes, and so on. Apparently Mister Rogers took very seriously his responsibility to his young fans and tried hard to return all the hundreds of letters he received. One sad day, this boy opened his 4th or 5th letter back from Mister Rogers and, holding back tears, read something like this: “I love reading your letters and getting to know you better, but I must spend time writing to all the other boys and girls that get in touch.” And Mister Rogers kept his word, as always, and didn’t write back again. What a great story, right?
I digress from the purpose of this blog. There’s a new website called KickStarter that allows artists, musicians, writers and others with creative or otherwise adventurous aspirations to create a campaign that raises money for a specific project. If a goal is reached within a given timeframe, all contributors get some sort of momento or gift from the organizer; if the goal is not reached, everyone who already contributed gets their money back. I’ve seen variants on this idea, but it seems to be taking off– a few currently on the website have raised as much as $10,000. I bring up Mister Rogers because there’s a pair working on an independent documentary film about literally being his neighbor in Nantucket, Massachusetts, that seems worthwhile and interesting and still needs a little help, check it out here.
My entrepreneurial spirit flared up– is there an orchestrated way that amateur art collectors could utilize this critical mass idea to support specific projects of visual artists, and then timeshare the artwork created? I realize there’s some legal ownership issues, and it would surely lead to arguments over who gets the painting over certain weekends, but seeing that $20,000 is a pretty substantial investment to most people (and a lot of money to an emerging artist), breaking it up into ten patrons of $2,000 seems intuitive. Those patrons also have an economic incentive to promote and support the artist in the future, too. Clearly someone must have thoughts of this and it’s failed (or, if not, it’s my idea and possibly for sale).