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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Atlanta launches power2give, a Kickstarter-like program for arts funding

Mayor Kasim Reed demonstrates how the program works.
  • Debbie Michaud's iPhone
  • Mayor Kasim Reed demonstrates how the progam works.
This morning, the city's Office of Cultural Affairs and Mayor Kasim Reed launched the new arts granting program power2give. Like Kickstarter, power2give is an online crowd-sourced funding tool that allows donors to contribute in comfortable increments to projects that resonate with them. Where Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut from the money raised, and Amazon a 3-5 percent processing fee, power2give's 6.75 percent operating costs are built in to the goal so that projects are fully funded through the money raised. power2give is open only to OCA's contracts for arts services recipients who can post $5,000 projects online once they're reviewed by a panel and the city of Atlanta will match dollar for dollar up to $2,500. Participating organizations currently include MOCA GA, the Atlanta Ballet, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, and C4 Atlanta, among others. The city was able to offer the matching grants thanks to a $530,000 budget bump for 2013 ($280,000 more than the initially proposed $250,000 making the 2013 total budget an even $1,000,000), of which $220,000 is going toward the power2give campaign.

The Atlanta launch of power2give comes on the program's one-year anniversary and is a result of a partnership with the Arts and Sciences Council of Charlotte. power2give is currently in eight cities and has raised $1.2 million to date.

"The arts are a vital component to any great city; art defines greatness in my judgement," said Mayor Kasim Reed to a small gathering of arts organizations at City Hall. "We're completely committed to Atlanta being a great arts city," he continued before referencing his 2012 budget proposal that included slashing arts funding in half from an already measly $470,000. "With your support I was smart enough to change that decision."

"[The arts] are a space we have to continue to grow in to be a special city. We need to invest at least $10 million annually to be a serious arts city. We're far away from it now but we have to figure it out. We have to do more to support our artists and this is a step in that direction."

Atlanta has the most arts-related businesses per capita in the nation, but relatively speaking, is one of the stingiest when it comes to funding. $10 million is a lofty goal, but it may not be impossible if something like power2give proves successful. Kickstarter made headlines earlier this year when it estimated delivering $150 million in funding in 2012, enough to outpace the National Endowment for the Arts' $146 million budget. Last week the Washington Post published a story about the wild success dance organizations seem to be having on the country's most popular crowd-funding site, a phenomenon we've experienced firsthand in Atlanta with endeavors such as the Lucky Penny's recent production Threshold.

The key here, though, will be getting Atlantans to contribute. "We really want to make this work. If we leverage the money this year, we'll more likely be able to continue," said Reed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated with OCA's approved 2013 budget numbers.

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