Theatre Artists Now Kickstarting Their Projects With Kickstarter

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27 Jul 2013

Robert Cuccioli

To get people to contribute, you must first entice them with a video explaining your project and why they should throw some money your way.

"I went to the main Kickstarter office and went through a whole seminar with them about how to use it, the do's and the don't's," said actor Robert Cuccioli, who also used the site to underwrite an album, "The Look of Love." "It was a learning process. You have to make a video to present yourself to your possible backers, and have to come up with incentives that backers would be interested in, be it a t-shirt or a dinner out. It took a lot of creativity."

The incentives are called "rewards," and they go to the donors should the Kickstarter campaign be successful. Small donations are rewarded with small prizes, while larger contributions can result in fairly lavish awards. The "thanks yous," however, must pertain in some way to the project and the talents of the applicant. For instance, Kuhn, who was a vocal artist in the animated Disney film "Pocahontas," offered to sing the song "Colors of the Wind" on the phone to excited child fans of the film. She also proffered signed copies of the album, and tickets to the record's release party.

Old Sound Room's incentives included tickets to the show, t-shirts, and—for particularly high rollers—a private performance of the play. (The one person who bid enough to win that prize was a family member of one of the company members and did not hold the troupe to that obligation.) Donors to American Psycho could collect an MP3 download for one of Sheik's songs, signed copies of Ellis' book, and even a dinner out with Ellis himself.

One must be careful when formulating incentives, however, cautioned Cuccioli.

"I still owe people," said Cuccioli, whose album came out in October. "That can go for a while. Your project, even though it's finished, is not fully finished if you come up with incentives that take time to do." For instance, some donors have not yet collected on the Cuccioli concert tickets they received by donating. "It still hangs over your head," said the actor.


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