Sketch class in Hyde Park. Photography by Andrew Raimist.
The following all have a singular, common theme: a couple looking to move their homebrewed beer to a microbrewery, artists participating in community restoration projects, Lego-themed origami, and a DIY kit for building an eco-friendly house.
Enter the Kickstarter platform, haven for all those with creative ideas that need a little more buck before they can bang. Kickstarter is essentially a way for the creative-minded to fundraise and feel out how much support their ideas will generate, usually before their ideas are made more concrete, and thus avoiding wasted efforts in the process. Many St. Louis based projects have already been successfully funded through it, including a St. Louis City Opera production, and an Easter-themed photo booth event on Cherokee.
Local architect and teaching artist Andrew Raimist explains why Kickstarter is so novel: “It’s not about soliciting,” he says. "And it’s not just a donation.”
Raimist is currently making use of Kickstarter to fund the (en)Visioning Hyde Park project, a three-week long class sponsored by the ReBuild Foundation, which will teach a group of 5th through 8th grade students in North City basic lessons in digital photography. The students will then document their neighborhood, including their experiences with the artists who are working with Theaster Gates' CityStudioSTL, rehabbing a Hyde Park home into a neighborhood gathering place.
Raimist’s thoughts on the uniqueness of Kickstarter contributions seem true enough, as anyone who gives to a set project receives some sort of corresponding reward. In the case of the Hyde Park project, these gifts revolve around the class’ culmination: a published book containing the students’ writings and photos. Those pledging $25 or more to the Hyde Park project, for example, receive a signed print as well as special e-mail updates on the project, while those pledging $50 or more receive varying copies of the students’ published book as pledges increase.
Raimist goes on to describe Kickstarter as a “very interesting concept” that is still “very new.” “It puts pressure on people to make a decision,” he says.
And therein lies the other novelty of Kickstarter – the “all or nothing” deal. If a project’s set funding goal is not met within a specified amount of time, then nobody spends or receives any money. Those interested need to decide if they want to fund a project and then act on it, because if they don’t, the project might not get off the ground. Raimist has set a goal of $4,200 in 30 days, with a deadline of July 6. If received, the money will help to pay for digital cameras, the use of computers, and the final publishing of the book. Money will also help to pay for an exhibit of the students’ work, planned to run from the end of July to September.
Raimist has so far gotten 24 backers, totaling almost $700, and putting him at about 16% of his ultimate goal. And while no funding is given to those who don’t reach their goal, there don’t seem to be any penalties for those who surpass it.