The costumer is always right, and pays three times. Crowdfunding for performing arts projects: a Portuguese case-study.
ESA RN18 mid-term conference Rethinking Power in Communicative Capitalism
Portuguese crowdfunding platforms operate since 2011, collecting over one million euro, but only in 2015 collaborative financing models’ legal framework was defined and in 2016 the Lisbon City Hall launches its own platform. Arts and culture figure between the most popular and financed categories, where famous and emergent artists appear into an apparent meritocratic system, having to launch campaigns and become “culturpreneurs” (Walter, 2015). Scholars argue that this online funding channel, promoted by social media, “focuses on consumers” (Ordanini et al, 2011), who support by resources and personal commitment to receive tangible or not benefits, and it is a “set of technical, organizational and social factors” (Davies,2014). Lipovetsky’s World-Culture theory helps to frame the struggles of Portuguese performing arts production scenario, where State’s funding is lowering, companies sponsor stages and grants, publics participation is scarce for an oversupplied market with strong competition. To explore crowdfunding for performing arts phenomenon three analytical axes emerge: - techno-economical: as a transactions channel for good, monetary and symbolic capitals owned by specific organizations; - creative: as collective support for art production and dissemination; - social: as communicative exchanges environment with collaborative basis and strong added value to profit. This paper presents an ongoing research, which focuses on the multiple roles necessary played by artist and publics in crowdfunding context, to highlight the emerging paradox of communicative capitalism and culture mercantilization, which forces power dynamics, exalting and taking advantage of the individual action at each production stage. weakening the set of values associated to the collaborative production idea and behaviours. The crowdfunding projects sample, selected from the national market leader platform, includes different artistic outputs always including a live performance, allowing monitorization of online pages (qualitative data analysis) and users (backers’ survey), as well as of offline actors (artists in-depth interviews and offline publics survey). Findings point to relevant trends concerning artists and publics’ perspectives. Due to the lack of resources and weak structures of production the artists have to manage strategies and campaigns, developing entrepreneurial and communicational skills, sometimes struggling with a markeeter approach to their work and the time- consuming tasks. They rely on personal social networks to promote the campaigns, and wanting to achieve more audience and media attention, asking for an additional effort to backers but also to social media users. Then we find citizens who already paid taxes, facing the lack of public funds for culture, to be the same people who fund the campaigns but also invest time and effort to create online buzz for campaign visibility. Moreover backers receive benefits for funding but many times they have to buy a show ticket, because in that case they are costumers, who are always right if they pay.
Crowdfunding, capitalism, culture, communication, Portugal