How to Crowdfund a Fringe Show by Juliette Burton

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular option for cash-starved artists, but how does it work and where does your money go?

Feature by Juliette Burton | 02 Aug 2013
  • How to Crowdfund a Fringe

I am so sick of requests. No I will not sign your petition. No I will not sponsor your bike ride. No I will not pledge money for your Edinburgh Fringe show… Wait, that last one was a request sent by me.

People are tiring of crowdfunding and I have witnessed that first hand. My show is going to cost money. A helluvalotta money. The whole Fringe is an industry built on creatives  who want to get their work seen – by the public, by industry, by press, but we need money to make it happen. So the pleas for help begin.

What did I offer people if they crowdfunded?

We began enthusiastically. I was at first advised,  by a university graduate with all the enthusiasm of youth, that we could “easily” raise £5000. I thought that was a little hopeful. I would be begging those dear friends and family to give me their cash to make my dream – not theirs – come true. Maybe by the end of the pestering it would be their dream to shut me up and stop me emailing them asking for more money.

We offered people the option to give any sum they wished – even 1p. Four people claimed a public ‘thank you’ on Facebook. Two claimed a signed flyer for £10. Five lovely people claimed a badge or a drawing sketched by me for £20. Three amazing people gave £50 and for that I spent time writing them personalised poetry. One utter hero pledged a whopping £75 for which he will receive signed merchandise and baked goodies made by me. He’ll be receiving that in person at the Fringe this August.

How much did I raise?

We aimed to raise £3000. Did we? No. Those of you good at maths will have already realised that. After 60 days of publicising it on Twitter and Facebook and sending annoying emails to friends and family we raised £740. That’s not what we aimed for. But I am grateful for every single penny. Sadly, not every single penny came to us – after deducting the Indiegogo percentage and after deducting the PayPal fee we’d lost over £100 of that money. But every single penny left after that deduction is going to help me with my show.

Where does my money go?

I felt the only ethical thing to do would be to set up a business bank account purely for the show. All the crowd-funding money would go into that pot – separate to my own personal income and outgoings. It would be there simply for the costs of materials – the flyers and posters, the graphic design, the PR costs, the venue hire, and the production of the show itself.

How did I raise the rest?

I was lucky enough to be given some money towards ‘Professional Development’ from Creative Scotland. That money is going towards my director’s fees, the script consultant’s fees and any writing courses I need to go on beyond the Fringe.

Is it ethical to crowd-fund?

Would I crowd fund again? Well, I would love ideally to not have to. I’d love to live in a world where the government gives comedy writers and performers money to create shows and tour them around the UK and the world. But I don’t, even if our shows are terrific and we’re really, really lovely people.

I hate the idea of begging friends and family again for money. But I honestly don’t know a better way the creative industry will currently be funded. With government cuts in the arts and less money going around in general – it’ll be thanks to the generosity of others that any of us will get future shows off the ground. Crowdfunding is one of the few ways we can make it happen. I will need to continue relying on the kindness of strangers to make my dreams come true.


More on Juliette Burton at Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

'Look at Me' Juliette Burton Fringe show review / Juliette Burton interview for Fringe show 'Look at Me' / 'When I Grow up' Juliette Burton Fringe show review / Juliette Burton: The Loveliest Revolution / Mace and Burton at Fringe: Rom Com Con / Fringe review of Rom Com Con by Mace and Burton