Yes, I'm really talking to you.
Let’s talk about funding and failure and risk.
Money is probably the most obvious thing that affects art. If you put a lot of money into something and one of the conditions of doing it again is that you have to make enough money to do it again then you’re not going to take a lot of risks and you might not learn much about the project. Sometimes when you’re making performance or theatre that’s fine, sometimes you’re making a show that should make money and should allow it to happen again. But, if you want to learn and grow and aren’t necessarily making work which isn’t immediately commercially viable then you’re probably going to hit a bit of a wall.
In order to try new things a lot of makers are forced to ask professional creatives to volunteer their time for free or at least underpay them. This means that only the elite who can afford to work for free can often participate in this and if you’re a working-class artist, how are you going to find authentic collaborators when you’re stopping someone doing something they need to do to pay their rent? It’s hard.
In order to avoid this most makers turn to alternative funding strategies such as profit-shares (especially in theatre) which effectively have no guarantee of payment usually and again whatever you’re making is depending on being commercially successful in order to continue with the help of the same people. Another option is crowd funding and that’s what I want to focus on here.
Crowdfunding is hard. First you need to identify a community to fund from and then try and convince them to part with cash for something which gives them a reward which doesn’t yet exist and can’t necessarily be quantified. Philanthropy has historically been successful and great inventions have been created with philanthropy and investment but what we’re talking about here is mainly grass roots makers.
What tends to happen is that a maker stays within their own community to fund their project. LGBTQIA+ people go to the LGBTQIA+ community and ask them to crowdfund a show about themselves because obviously they have an emotional investment in the content already. Effectively what this does however is pass money around internally in a community. It doesn’t create a flow of money and support coming into the community from the outside and eventually we’re going to run out of money to pass around. It’s not sustainable.
We need to think about funding in the same way that we should think about our activism. The risks that are taken by a certain community can benefit those that are more privileged too. Specifically, if you looks at LGBTQ+ funding projects, they are often tackling ideals of gender, toxic masculinity and gendered violence which are all things that affect non-LGBTQ+ people too. Sure, we’re not specifically making space for those people but they are benefiting from the work we do.
The LGBTQIA+ Superhero project is a 15 minute portable workshop designed to create the LGBTQIA+ superheroes we want to see in the world and let you take them away with you. Most of us from a young age have found things that are hard to say, feelings we can’t admit because of fear of persecution if we reveal ourselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community and therefore we have been silenced. This silencing can be traumatic and stay with us for a long time and it’s about time we fought it. The ideals of Gender and their ability to silence live in the form of a supervillain called HUSH, a being which is both one and many things and has the power to silence you.
Each participant is invited to bring something: a picture, a quote, a piece of material, anything to add to the mural the team are creating to represent Hush. Once they’ve done this they begin to create a new superhero to join the team and fight HUSH. The workshop is a guided process of exploration by me while artist Nemo Martin draws the superhero based on the information that is emerging.
Eventually the dream is that they will have created an international team of thousands of superheroes to fight against the powers of Gender and HUSH.
This is primarily designed for LGBTQIA+ participants however it’s not exclusively for their benefit, huge number of non-LGBTQ+ people are silenced by the forces of Gender as well. Lots of people reading this will remember being young and being interested in something as simple as a colour that was not typically associated with their gender or being mocked in the playground with gendered slurs.
We’re asking you to support us and let us take this risk because we think after this research phase we think we’ll have created a sustainable model which is going to give you a lot back.
If you can donate something the please check out the link here, every perk includes a free workshop and piece of art at the end: https://igg.me/at/LGBTQIAHero/x/18171511