“Crowdfunding is very hard work, but we can help,” explains Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar. “We launched Art Happens in order to harness people power in the process of making great creative things happen.”
A free fundraising service to help UK museums realise “long-dreamed of projects in a challenging climate”, each Art Happens project forges an ongoing dialogue between museums and donors ‘thanking’ all supporters with limited edition rewards.
Currently live is River & Rowing Museum’s ‘Bring John Piper home to Henley’, a £22,000 project that will see the museum create a permanent gallery and archive in the painter’s home town of Henly-on-Thames.
“To work on a project that brings together works of art from one of the most important artists our country has ever produced is a massive thrill,” explains the museum’s CEO Ludo Keston. “When that artist is local it becomes more personal and significant, especially when that project is entirely in the hands of the community.”
Modern Art Oxford (pictured above) is raising money for its 50th anniversary publication. The gallery hopes to raise £17,500 which, as director Paul Hobson explains, will “help shape and share an extraordinary history with audiences today and for generations to come”.
Art Happens is already making its own history too; it recently won the Emcees Arts & Culture Award for Excellence in Fundraising, for ‘Best use of digital channels in a fundraising campaign’.
Successful Art Happens’ campaigns so far range from £25,000 to restore the Bloomsbury interiors painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant at Charleston, to the creation of a 12.5 tonne vintage steamroller printing press for Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.
The platform’s stats are impressive as well; 16 out of 18 projects have been realised (Kickstarter sees just over a third) and 14% of its 2,500 unique funders have contributed more than once, with donations as high as £5,000.
Art Happens was launched after Art Fund and the National Museum Directors’ Council co-commissioned research into what motivates visitors to give. Unlike other commercial crowdfunding platforms, Art Fund absorbs all associated costs for the museums taking part, and takes no commission – so all funds raised go straight to the participating museum.
1. KALEIDOSCOPE archive poster display, Modern Art Oxford, 2016. Photo: Edmund Blok
2. Ditchling steam roller in action. Photo: Janie Airey