Shotgun Theatre has raised over £2,000 in four days in a crowdfunding campaign to get its production of Godspell to the Edinburgh Fringe. This phenomenal response has given me food for thought. The arts really do matter to people, don’t they?
Last November, I reviewed Godspell for Razz; giving 4.5 out of 5 stars because it was the best piece of student theatre I’d ever seen. With a fantastic cast and crew, I had no doubt that the production deserved to be performed in the Fringe, but when I saw they’d launched a campaign to raise up to £2,500, I worried for them. After parents and the odd uncle of the cast and crew, who was going to hand over their money? It’s the end of term, so definitely not students – or so I thought.
24hrs after the campaign went live, Shotgun had raised 50% of their £2,000 target. Fast forward three days later and they’d surpassed it. Perhaps that’s down to a pretty professional-looking appeal video, and some great social-media-sharing. But they’ve still achieved something I wouldn’t have expected to be possible.
Joe Miller, the director of the Godspell production said “We’ve been overwhelmed with the amazing response we’ve had to the campaign and cannot wait to bring our vision of this weird and wonderful production to the Edinburgh Fringe!”
I don’t blame him. It’s refreshing to see people actually willing to back a celebration of arts and culture, and in such a charitable way. In Razz’s spring issue, which came out last fortnight, Ashton Wenborn wrote about the inaccessibility of theatre these days, due to its short-sighted focus on profit. In a breakdown of costs that Shotgun published on their Crowdfunder page, we see that the prices to run these things are astronomical: £6,500 for venue hire and £800 just for a Fringe programme advert. The arts are undoubtedly a huge industry, so performing at the festival is going to be pricey. No wonder people like Shotgun need to appeal to the public for a helping hand.
Other student theatre companies, such as Theatre with Teeth, will be launching crowdfunding campaigns in the next couple of months to raise money for their productions to go the Fringe as well. This means getting plays that Exeter students have written to be performed at the world’s largest arts festival. Sounds like a pretty good achievement to me; I wish them the best. But, after the success of Shotgun, maybe they don’t need to worry. Maybe people do value the arts, after all.
– Anna Bonet