HOW CROWDFUNDING DISCOURSE THREATENS PUBLIC ARTS

Daren C. Brabham

Abstract


Crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have been the focus of considerable popular press news coverage in the past few years, with stories emphasizing how crowdfunding can bring indie creative projects into being through monetary contributions from several individuals online. As a method for financing small or risky artistic products unlikely to receive mainstream corporate or government support, crowdfunding has been celebrated in press coverage for “democratizing” the arts funding process. However, these same celebratory claims about crowdfunding giving everyday people a voice in bringing art into fruition eerily echo arguments in the U.S. by conservative and Tea Party groups to de-fund public arts programs. The very language crowdfunding proponents use may well fuel politicians hoping to unravel public arts funding. This paper presents a critical discourse analysis of news coverage about crowdfunding, analyzing the similarities between pro-crowdfunding sentiments and anti-public arts funding advocates to warn against the possibility of a future void of public funding for the arts because of uncritical popular embrace of an Internet trend.