Festival Makes Crowdfunding a Community-Building Affair

An innovative event held recently in Jacksonville, Florida used a festival as a means to bring crowdfunding to the people; providing a platform for community building and branding in the process. Could this be the future of financing public projects?
August 15, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"In April, 130,000 people flocked to the first One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, to hear indie rock bands, watch fire dancers, admire multimedia art installations, and, most important, listen to entrepreneurs’ pitches for more than 400 projects in search of seed money," reports Patrick J. Kiger. "Organizers promoted One Spark as the world’s first community festival focused on crowdfunding, a nascent method of microfinance in which small contributions are solicited from large numbers of benefactors via the internet."

"The Jacksonville event may be one harbinger of a promising new international phenomenon—civic festivals that aim to promote local communities by incorporating crowdfunding both as a source of capital and as a tool for engaging visitors and residents," he explains.

"Like any method of raising money, crowdfunding comes with caveats and potential pitfalls, and its novelty means users must be willing to venture into largely unexplored territory," Kiger cautions. "But proponents say that crowdfunding festivals’ potential to attract large, far-flung audiences and to synergize the online social networking with a tangible event makes them a powerful tool for building a distinctive community brand. Indeed, some of the concept’s enthusiasts even foresee a not-too-distant day in which architects and developers may use crowdfunding festivals to help remake a city by garnering support for new buildings or redevelopment projects."

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Published on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 in Urban Land
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