If you’re a fan of comics or video games, odds are very, very good that you’ve heard about at least one blockbuster Kickstarter project in the last year. Whether it was the Minecraft documentary or Tim Schafer’s Doublefine project; Womanthology or Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick reprint drive; Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s joint Halloween tour of the west coast, or the Wonder Woman documentary‘s SXSW debut; there’s likely something that you’re at least a little interested in that been made possible by the Kickstarter platform.
But what puts that in even greater relief is that Kickstarter, which restricts its sponsored projects to ones with “creative purpose,” believes it is on track to distribute more money than the National Endowment for the Arts this year. Not bad for a three-year-old internet startup.
It’s an interesting comparison, and one that Yancey Strickler, co-founder of the company, admits he is conflicted about. From Talking Points Memo:
As Strickler explained, the milestone is “good” in the sense that it means that Kickstarter may now reach a point where it will funnel as much money to the arts as the federal agency primarily responsible for supporting them, effectively doubling the amount of art that can get funded in the country.
“But maybe it shouldn’t be that way,” Strickler said, “Maybe there’s a reason for the state to strongly support the arts.”
Kickstarter is approaching these numbers despite the fact that 52% of the projects on their site do not get funded (if a project does not meet its funding goal by its deadline, no money is charged to its backers). $99 million was pledged in 2011 alone. Another statistic that speaks to the power of Kickstarter’s format and its effect on the arts? 31 of the independent films at this past SXSW were created by successful Kickstarter drives.