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Friday, December 17, 2010

Raising your own money for the arts

An article from the Wall Street Journal. A huge challenge for the future of the Arts is to find new models for funding what we do.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703395204576023762886208764.html

Jeramy Zimmerman wants to teach artists how to ask for money.

The choreographer and co-founder of dance company CatScratch Theatre is launching a contemporary dance festival in January called FLICfest at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn.

She donated $5,000 in start-up costs and is asking fellow artists and dance enthusiasts to help raise $17,000 to cover the rest of the costs. Irondale is offering the space at no cost.

"We're paying the choreographers for their work, which rarely happens for a show of our size, but asking them for a commitment to help us fundraise," Ms. Zimmerman says. "It's part of a movement to get artists comfortable asking people to donate money and fund-raising for projects instead of just waiting for a big patron or government grant."

Taking inspiration from the 2008 presidential election, which marshaled hundreds of thousands of micropayments toward the campaign of now-President Barack Obama, she says too many artists fund shows out of their own pockets or don't showcase their work because they can't get funding.
Additionally, cultivating a group of donors also "builds a community of people that are then invested in the work," Ms. Zimmerman says.

The festival will present feature-length dance and performances by 12 choreographers over two weeks. Performances include Prime Mover, a piece by Jonah Bokaer that employs a constellation of satellites and GPS receivers, and Confined, a piece by Emily Berry that combines live music by violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, the spoken word by writer Todd Craig and scenography by Gail Scott White.

Typically festivals present shorter works that max out at 15 minutes to bring in as many viewers and participants as possible to fund the show.

At FLICfest, works will run 50 minutes to an hour.


"A longer work allows for a greater development of an idea and the attention of the audience," Ms. Zimmerman says. "If you give the audience a change, it's amazing how long they will really stay with you.


The 38-year-old choreographer dropped out of law school in 1994 to pursue dance and started the CatScratch Theatre in 2000 to perform in non-traditional spaces such as the Staten Island Ferry and subway cars. She received a master's degree in fine arts in dance from New York University's Tisch School and most recently participated in the Modern Museum of Art's exhibition on performance artist Marina Abramovic.

"I could keep producing my own show every year but what I really want to do is help create new models and new things for other people to participate in," she says. "Then they can improve upon those models and keep the art of dance alive and vital.

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