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Arts and Education Council launches new crowd-funding platform

Provided by Phaedra Phestival. Photo by Wilson Webel.
Provided by Phaedra Phestival. Photo by Wilson Webel.
The Phaedra Phestival: A classical experiement is one project using the newly launched stARTup-StL platform.

The Arts and Education Council has launched a new crowd-sourcing platform calledstARTup-StL  aimed at uniting its existing donor base, new donors and arts projects in the metro area. 

Much like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the fundraising tool will help organizations and individuals raise money. But fees are far less than those charged by larger services. The council will only collect credit card fees for processing donations. All other funds will stay in the St. Louis region.

“Our biggest hope is just to connect arts organizations to a wider base of donors,” said Krista Grant, the council’s marketing coordinator. “You know everyone in St. Louis will benefit from a stronger arts community.

The funding platform is available through the council’s website. It replaces a similar effort launched by the organization in 2014 and discontinued the following year. According to Grant, that version supported more than 35 projects and raised more than $100,000.  The updated method aims to update parts of the organization’s current funding model.

“We see this as a way to make A&E a more versatile and spry funding organization, and also give more opportunities that are a little more flexible to arts organizations,” Grant said.

Two theater projects — The Phaedra Phestival and MindsEye Radio — already are making use of the new, flexible service.

The Phaedra Phestival is a collaboration between four theater companies inspired by the life cycle of Phaedra, a character from Greek mythology who has appeared in multiple plays over hundreds of years.

Lucy Cashion, a theater professor at Saint Louis University, whose company Equally Represented Arts will participate in the festival, said the collaborators couldn’t find grant funding for the festival due to its collaborative, character-specific nature.  That’s when they got interested instARTup-StL

“It’s almost like we wanted a grant to exist for this project, but we didn’t know of one,” Cashion said. “So we’re using the crowd-funding platform …  as though it’s a grant for four companies who want to collaborate together.”

MindsEye Radio aims to bring descriptions of local performances to the visually-impaired.  The service would provide headsets and audio descriptions of specific performances to theater-goers in St. Louis with limited sight. The recordings would be distributed online, through radio and through phone apps.

Amelia Christ, MidsEye’s community outreach coordinator, said the Arts and Education Council worked with the group develop its funding goals, plan a campaign, and execute it online

“I really got the sense that they really do care about their mission to bring the arts to as many people as possible in the region,” she said.

The Arts and Education Council is looking for new projects that could benefit from the service.