Whether or not you’ve applied for funding from the Arts Council or other government bodies for projects in the past, all you musicians and artists in Ireland will be glad to see that the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport have finally dragged themselves into the Internet age. In February, the fund:it programme will be launched, an initiative that allows and supports “crowd-funding” of creative projects, whether music, installation, performance, technology or film.
While applying for funding was always a tricky minefield to pick your way through, cut-backs in this area, just like in most others, have made it even more difficult. This is especially true for those artists who are new in the game, and possibly don’t have the weight of institutional backing or an intimidatingly large reputation. However, fund:it is a welcome recognition that artistic circles, and society in general, has undergone a major restructuring over the last decade or so. Reputation is no longer the be-all and end-all, and nor is institutional relationships key to building that reputation. Artistic culture is moving toward an open democracy of ideas and interdisciplinary collaboration (though by no means is has it arrived there yet), and most artists don’t have the luxury to be so full-time, dedicating their lives to their art. We have multiple interests, multiple spheres in which to move, and the world’s artistic community is almost entirely accessible: in a strange shift, it’s no longer who you know, but how well you network. Fund:it works by supporting approved projects in an online funding process, using your own social network (via Facebook, Twitter, etc and of course the general public) to raise funds, creating a dense web of communication and reciprocity among the artistic community. Full details and requirements for the programme will no doubt be released with its full launch in February, but if nothing else so far it seems like a step in the right direction, and realisation and exploitation of what it means to be an artist in the digital age.