Kickstarter is off to a running start this year. As Alexis Madrigal reported, the crowdfunding platform saw its first two million-dollar projects in one day, within four hours of each other, and a third reached that benchmark this past Monday. Earlier this month, people on the site pledged more than $1.6 million in a 24-hour period, more than doubling the previous record, which had been set the day before. Now, Carl Franzen of Talking Points Memo is putting that cash flow in perspective. He reports that the company is expecting to bring in $150 million in funding total this year -- more than the $146 million provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the federal agency charged with supporting the arts (many Kickstarter initiatives are art projects of one kind or another). Franzen writes:
"It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the NEA," said [Kickstarter co-founder Yancey] Stricker in an exclusive phone interview with TPM. "We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way."
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."
There's room for both Kickstarter and the NEA; Kickstarter's projects tend to be of a different vein than NEA's grant recipients -- a little scrappier, a little more experimental. Kickstarter has filled a real need in bringing people together to fund the projects they want, and the results have been -- and continue to be -- wonderful.
The crowdfunding platform is having a blockbuster year and may bring in as much as $150 million for the small projects on its site.