A new Dublin-based company run by a composer and a video artist, Subpoly Studios, launches innovative real-time video mixing software Videoweave and a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to fund its release. Is crowdfunding the way forward for arts organisations?
A new Dublin-based company called Subpoly Studios has announced details of new VJing software Videoweave, and have launched an Indiegogo fundraising project to bring the program to full launch. Subpoly Studios was established by brothers Marc Balbirnie, a composer and music technician, and Luke Balbirnie, a video artist, who have collaborated on artistic projects in the past and for whom this is the first foray into the business of audiovisual software. The Videoweave programme allows the user to loop, mix and manipulate videos with music in real time. Rewards for investing in Videoweave go from thank yous to reduced price and fully customised version of the software.
Subpoly Studios are the latest in a long list of artists, arts organisations and groups that have sourced funds from a few hundred to a few thousand euro for their art from their friends and fans: the Crash Ensemble, Cork Opera House, Ergodos, Fractal and a myriad of bands, just in Ireland. Crowdfunding through sites such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter and – in Ireland – FundIt, is fast becoming the initial go-to options for artistic projects looking for start-up funding. As governmental cuts and a significant reduction in independent investment increasingly leaves smaller initiatives falling by the wayside as they lack the support to even begin, and sourcing from their fans and supporters not only provides a means of finding that support but acts as a risk-free acid test for the endeavour, to see even before production if their intended audience are interested in the first place. Through offering rewards in the form of pre-sales and exclusive merchandise and bringing both large- and small-scale projects to the same platforms, audiences can now choose the projects they think are worth their money. In this way crowdfunding has allowed small projects to thrive alongside larger ones, and provided avenues for those to develop in front of, rather than removed from, their audiences.
The increasing ubiquity of crowdfunding is bringing its own issues though: at what point do audiences, however enthusiastic they may be, reach saturation point with the reams of requests from 'chuggers'? What about when, as Jim Carroll recently wondered, audiences reject projects? Crowdfunding such as the Indiegogo, Kickstarter and FundIt sites, are providing a stopgap measure that gets artists off the ground, but does not approach solving the problems of funding in the arts. Larger organisations such as orchestras cannot hope to use this approach to sustain themselves, nor can festivals or larger arts organisations. But unless governmental funding increases significantly – looking unlikely in the immediate future – could they perhaps learn from the lessons of crowdfunding: the viral spread of ideas, developing their audience profiles, and working in tandem with the audience to create and present their programmes in ways that will increase engagement and, ultimately, investment?