I was at a Phundee pitching night for potential crowdfunding projects last night. Each creative was telling us their project and seeking a free place on a development programme to lead them from idea through to campaign over 8 weeks. The ideas chosen tonight will be nurtured and supported by the Chief Exec and his team. When they burst onto the www they will be as ready as possible to attract full funding for their start-ups.
I shared the tube home with a fellow grissled 50+ year old creative who had been there. We were excited by the creative informality of this event – more teddy bears than dragons den. Each artist pitching was welcomed, cherished, supported and given space to be themselves. We realised that we shared a couple of very lucky traits – we have worked in the business we love all our lives. We have never been out of work (poor yes, work-less no). And most importantly we have kept our ears and eyes open so we soak up new ideas and help to make connections happen.
As an ambassador for Phundee, I was asked to speak for a moment. I channeled an element of the actor Jack Bence – and that was his life credo which I have shared before – Graft Grace and Gratitude. Not a bad way for any person to live their life.
For anyone embarking on a new project you have to graft. You have to gather your “Christmas card list” of contacts to whom you can make your pitch. You have to challenge your colleagues (and Phundee) to reach out and find communities who might be interested in the project, but might not know you personally yet. And you have to work work work to hone the pitch.
Then comes the grace. It must look effortless. You must talk with love and enjoyment to the widest range of new and grisseled faces. You have to think laterally and have no fear. And you need graceful energy to keep going. And you need to see success in every setback. You have to look successful, without looking cocky. Seeking support without looking needy. A balancing act if ever there was one.
If the campaign reaches its fundraising target then you have new friends. You have a project that is going to happen, and some people who have funded it. You also have a diverse community on the internet and in real life who know that you are doing a project. Hopefully they have signed up in some way, even if they have not given money. Maybe they have already offered support. Maybe they have talked about you on social media or carried your story in their paper. These are all new friends. They join your Christmas card list.
Now you have time to offer your gratitude. Make a great project with the funding you have. Cheer all those who have helped you. And then gather them around you to make your next project.
And always keep an open mind as you embark on a life time of learning.
Tonight I learned about House music and its history from the passionate Dipz Mistry. I learned about one musicians plans with his collective of 15 writer/music makers to launch a label and monthly music night. I was so pleased to be introduced to the gaming world exploring the creativity through BPD, and the work of a new LGBT physical theatre r&D. Dance pieces, support structures for dancers and film-theatre explorations – these are just some of the pitches made to us tonight which excited the audience and the panel. [I will leave them to announce themselves by name when they’re ready]
I am impressed by the personal passion of the people behind Phundee. It is a crowdfunding platform seeking to dedicate its support to the creative projects and paths of some great new London artists. So far I have been involved with a storytelling project, a science and “herstory” project, and a classic Broadway musical about sex. So far the projects I have cheered and shared have reached target. I will continue, with my other Ambassadors, to be very honest with creatives about their chances, and seek to work with winners. This is not a play school for funding. It requires massive graft, a lot of skillful grace, and then the mature presence to offer gratitude.
Good luck to all those chosen from the Roundhouse event last night to go forward with Phundee to bring their project to market. And good luck to Phundee as they grow the market of people with money willing to give a little to support and be involved with new art.