It has become very clear that the best path forward for all of us is to actively participate in mitigation of a global pandemic. The best plan for mitigation is social distancing. In the face of so much uncertainty about how distancing will affect our health and the health of those around us, our communities, our jobs, our global economy…it’s absolutely overwhelming. Just a small survey of the people around me says we all feel like we’re walking through tar. But we must act — and fast.
In fact, just as we can take quick and decisive action now that will mitigate the long term impact of Coronavirus, we can also take quick and decisive action that will mitigate the long term impact of this pandemic on our creative ecosystem.
We do this together. We do it one day at a time. We will do it with imperfect and sometimes painful solutions and substitutes for what we wish could be true. I’ll say it again: we do this together. (Virtually, of course.)
Seed&Spark’s Step 1 Plans and Recommendations:
Limit community exposure. Today, at Seed&Spark, we are officially all working from home for the foreseeable future. It’s not optional, it’s mandatory. We will move all our upcoming events to virtual events. That means that our in-person events in North Carolina and Michigan will be offered virtually, and our Creative Sustainability Summit in Birmingham, AL will be postponed. We will monitor the situation and follow the most stringent and risk-averse guidelines until it’s very clear the worst is over.
Build solutions not just for us, but for everyone. From our respective homes, our team is hard at work to build near-term solutions that don’t just keep us going but that benefit all members of our ecosystem: creators, arts organizations, festivals and independent theaters. We are working now on how to address the film festival closures that are happening across the country to support not just the filmmakers but the festivals as well — we need them for a healthy ecosystem! We will have an update on this on Monday.
Keep making work. Many are asking us: should I still crowdfund? Well, crowdfunding rose out of the ashes of the 2007–2008 financial crisis. It’s a testament to the indomitable spirit of creators. It also led audiences out of a very dark time — one great idea at a time. It was revitalizing for so many people’s spirits, and also revitalizing for the creative economy. As people further isolate (and they should! have we said that already?), we are losing essential social connections that keep up the human spirit. But we have virtual tools to continue to tell stories that connect people, and we should use them.
It’s a time to adjust the thinking about your campaign: this is not about you raising the money for your work, this is about you offering a unique chance for people to connect (safely!) around things that really matter to them. Your outreach strategy will have to adjust. Your goal may have to come down as you scale back the ambition of your production (or heck, make it an audio drama you can record in your basement!). We haven’t seen a dip in contribution volume or levels in the past month. However, because things are changing so quickly, we will post weekly updates across our social channels.
Remember: your stories will continue to help people connect to each other, to see themselves and their experiences represented. And they have real economic impact. From our data, 80% of crowdfunding money raised goes to pay wages in the communities where that money is being raised — it’s a tangible way to drive your local economy forward. Here are the great projects that could use your contribution (whatever size! A dollar! A share!) right now.
I think it’s important to say here that of course we’re scared. We’re scared for the health crisis. We’re scared for the global economy. And of course, we’re also scared for the survival of Seed&Spark. More than a third of Seed&Spark’s business is live educational events, and in spite of our sexy status as a “tech startup” we’ve never had deep coffers. We are struggling artists, too, working every day on the path to sustainability. The sponsorship revenue we derive from live events powers our business. Our educational events are also how we let people know about Seed&Spark — they drive the rest of our business. However, our fear isn’t just for ourselves, because we interact with the whole ecosystem: creators, arts organizations, festivals, independent theaters who rely on getting together for survival. Our fear is for all of us.
So we also persist. And we want you to persist with us. We will be sharing all our ideas publicly as we’re rolling them out, and we want your feedback. We want to hear from you about what you need from where you are. (Social channels @seedandspark everywhere.) We will continue to offer everything we have so that you and your communities can continue forward momentum (even if it’s slowed) towards creative sustainability. We will offer education, tools to make projects come to life, connections within communities and opportunities to network (safely!), and avenues to distribute your work.
A pandemic is a reminder that we need everyone to take swift and decisive action so that we can not just survive in the near term but thrive in the long term. We are in this together, now more than ever.