Happyland, presented by Melbourne-based artists Kaff-eine and cheeseagle, is an art installation and housing project of more than 30 large art tarpaulins being installed in the slums of Manila. To make this project a reality, the artists ran two crowdfunding campaigns simultaneously. Dangerous you say? That’s what we thought – initially.
Kaff-eine and cheeseagle ran a donation-based campaign here on the ACF and a rewards-based, all-or-nothing campaign on Pozible. And they didn’t just reach both targets, they smashed them. We spoke with Emily Cheesman (AKA cheeseagle) to find out how they managed it and get some tips are for other artists considering a similar approach.
At a glance
$ raised: $41,384 ($10,505 on the ACF, $23,349 on Pozible and a further $8,000 in matched funding through Creative Partnerships Australia’s MATCH program)
Donors: 39 ACF donors and 62 Pozible backers
Why did you choose the ACF?
We were looking for a platform that highlighted the visual arts nature of our Happyland project, offered a straightforward and attractive way to support our work, and ideally introduced our project to new audiences.
ACF ticked those boxes: as well as a platform designed to support the Australian arts, the staff were lovely and supportive for first-timers; the ACF mailing list actually made us aware of the generous MATCH funding grants scheme, and importantly, the platform offered our supporters the option of a tax-deductible donation.
Tell us about your experience fundraising through the ACF
We were blown away with the generous support and encouragement we received for the project, and the ACF platform was a big part of our project coming to life.
Our campaign represented a huge amount of work, starting with lots of generous advice from the ACF team. Although we’ve spent many hours developing Happyland, we had no experience with crowdfunding. We are also keenly aware that Happyland is ambitious in its scope and has many different elements, making the ACF’s support and tips from the beginning really heartening and helpful.
Together with our amazing crowdfunding volunteer team we spent a lot of time working on planning and reaching out to friends and potential supporters before the launch of our month-long campaign. By the launch, a lot of awareness and support for Happyland and our crowdfunding campaign had been generated. This strategy suggested by ACF worked well – we were just so delighted that we reached our campaign and minimum MATCH funding target well within our timeline.
Your strategy also included running a Pozible campaign alongside your ACF campaign. Can you tell us how this worked for you and any lessons you have for artists considering this approach? What’s the most important thing you learnt?
Many people had cautioned us against running two crowdfunding campaigns at the same time, mainly because one on its own is a lot of work! There was also the possibility that the crowdfunding efforts would be spread too thin, and we wouldn’t hit either of the targets required to secure the fundraising for the project. (We had to reach a minimum to be eligible to receive our MATCH funding grant, and also a campaign minimum to receive funds raised through Pozible.)
However, we decided to run these two campaigns side by side because of the existing profile of the Happyland project and Kaff-eine’s strong public following; the range of different supporters and interests that we aimed to attract to our campaigns; logistics and the timeline of the Happyland project (avoiding typhoon season in the Philippines was important for the installation of the outdoor art tarpaulins, and gifting of the art tarpaulins to residents in time for the storms); and importantly the amazing support offered by our crowdfunding team and their assurances that the strategy would work.
We were also extremely honored to have the support of many fantastic street artists, businesses and individuals who donated rewards for us to offer through Pozible. We wanted to offer potential supporters a chance to view the range of artworks and prizes donated, and also launch with an event giving people a chance to hear more about the project. Because of these aims, we decided to launch the two campaigns with a pop-up exhibition. We were just blown away with how generous our supporters are, with our project hitting its minimum Pozible targets within the first 24 hours, and our ACF target within the first few weeks. We are so grateful for the advice, energy, resources, time, and amazing moral support from all the project supporters – thank you!
We’d suggest anyone considering two campaigns to keep it as simple as possible, and have a lot of supporting material (website, signs, a trusted team who are able to answer questions, handouts, etc.) consistently explaining why you have two campaigns going, and the differences between the campaigns. Consider carefully your audiences and test with your audiences your messages, materials and the actual platforms in advance of promoting the campaigns broadly, and then be prepared for a lot of good questions from potential supporters!
As far as the most important thing we learnt from our campaign, it’d definitely be go with what you know will engage your audience, take calculated risks, and have a trusted crowdfunding team.
Finally, do you have any tips for other artists thinking about embarking on a fundraising campaign?
- Go with what you know will engage your audience and supporters, and whatever builds on what you are known for as an artist.
- There are so many aspects to developing a project, let alone the planning, decision-making and crowdfunding campaign. This means that a great, trusted team from the start of planning is crucial.
- Think about how your supporters will want to engage with you, and how you’ll be able to give them updates on the campaigns, and importantly, how you’ll be able to thank them for their support!
- It takes a lot of effort and time. Allow as much time as possible to build up supporting materials, working out a campaign plan and how you and your team will make it happen. Take time to test the materials with trusted supporters, and remember to play to your strengths.
The Happyland project involved ten community personalities whose portraits were painted by Kaff-eine. The portraits were printed onto large tarpaulins in Manila, where the project team worked with residents to temporarily install them as an exhibition before the June storm season hit. The art tarps were gifted to residents to use however they wish, whether for shelter or resources to trade and sell.
The project’s team is now beginning post-production of a documentary that follows the process and will introduce audiences to the residents and communities. Exhibitions of Kaff-eine’s original painted portraits, photographs of the installations by leading Filipino photographers, Geloy Concepcion and Geric Cruz, and the documentary are being planned for late 2016 and early 2017.
For more information on the project and exhibitions see cheeseagle.com.