Could crowd-funding rescue the arts in Wales?

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

media captionYvonne Murphy said crowd-funding took a 'phenomenal amount of work'

As the financial climate for Welsh arts organisations remains tough, could crowd-funding provide a cash injection for artists and producers as they try to balance their budgets?

Theatre groups, artists and film producers are among those who are already using crowd-funding websites that allow their supporters to pledge money in return for rewards.

I've been speaking to some individuals and groups who are already turning to popular online platforms to raise cash, and attract new supporters, for their arts projects.

media captionJacqui Onions of Hijinx Thearte said it was an added extra

'For the amount of money, it doesn't make sense'

Crowd-funding was used towards the costing of staging an all-woman production of Richard III, in the roof of the Wales Millennium Centre.

As well as a grant, and support in kind from the venue, the producers took to social networking to try and raise the rest.

Yvonne Murphy, director of Omidaze theatre company, said it took a "phenomenal amount of work" to set up the crowd funding campaign and it relied in the end on donations from familiar faces.

She she would never use that method again although it spread the marketing message.

'It's an added extra'

Hijinx Theatre for people with learning disabilities is crowd-funding for a revival of its popular production, Beneath The Streets, which they need to raise match funding towards an Arts Council for Wales grant.

People who donate will get rewards of acknowledgement to an involvement in the production.

Jacqui Onions, administrator of Hijinx Theatre, said she would think of crowd-funding again if the project was right.

"It's a good way of making connections as well, because when you pledge you have to have contact to arrange the reward so we get to know our supporters better."

'You need to be very specific'

media captionRichard Williams said crowd-funding brought a wider audience for his project

Roger Williams used crowd-funding to help finance the first Welsh language gay feature film, Maldod, which will start shooting in the summer.

It's the story of a girl in rural Wales and a stranger who arrives and transforms her life.

The campaign attracted 160 investors - and he would use the method again - but has learnt some lessons.

"It needs to be for the right project and you need to be very specific about what you're asking for," said Mr Williams.

"One of you our problems was that we were asking people to invest in the entire film. If we did it again we'd ask for to give money direct for the hire of the camera or the advertising campaign after the film's release. The more specific the better."

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