Artists looking for patrons and fund-raising now have a social networking group just for them. United States Artists, a national nonprofit organization that works to increase support for artists, launched a site that is part fund-raiser and part social network.
The website offers patrons of the arts an opportunity to browse ongoing and potential projects from around the country in all forms, such as literature, dance, and architecture. Browse artists, media, works that need funding, and pieces that have already closed and succeeded. The group is stressing the idea of personal philanthropy, where anyone can help transform a person’s vision into something real by making tax-deductible donations. USA Projects as it is known, is the first micro-philanthropy site dedicated solely to working artists in the United States.
While the site is part solicitation, it is also a chance for artists to contact one another, discussing pieces of work and learning about new ways to raise money. This feature is particularly valuable to the many artists who work independently and introspectively. Artists set fund-raising goals, and can create a profile, allowing people to engage in direct contact and ongoing interaction. If ever a goal is not met and the effort is ended, money is returned. However, when achieved, often artists will provide donors with special perks, such as CDs, T-shirts, or other autographs, depending on the type of art.
The site, officially unveiled on Tuesday, was created in part due to the economic troubles in the U.S. as well as declining funding for the arts and expected cutbacks. In May, preliminary tests with 47 artists begun, yielding great results. Over $200,000 was raised, including donations from 1,500 small donors. There are already many success stories, especially with artists who initially hesitated at the idea. Currently the site features 305 artists, 25 organizations, and over 2,600 community members.