A couple weeks ago I attended a lecture on the “world of a slave” at the Sandy Spring Museum in Maryland. Kym Rice spoke about her recently published two-volume work, The World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of the Material Life of Slaves in the United States, which she co-edited with Martha Katz-Hyman of Colonial Williamsburg. Many of you know Kym as the director of the museum studies program at George Washington University, but you may not know she is also working towards her Ph.D. in American Studies, focusing on African American history and culture.
Joining her was Michael Twitty, one of the contributors to the encyclopedia. He gave a fascinating lecture on African American foodways but also discussed an upcoming research trip as part of his Cooking Gene Project:
From May to September, Michael will be going with a team of friends on several expeditions into the Old South searching for his own connections to his ancestors through food and cooking. The Southern Discomfort Tour–May to July–will form the bulk of these explorations and will incorporate diverse elements (food history, genealogy, identity, cross-cultural connections, contemporary food culture, community service, and racial reconciliation and healing) into one process of looking back to the past in order to move forward into the future. Michael and his team will also begin to research his family’s genetic and historical connections to West and Central Africa and will seek out encounters with the descendants of the families that owned his family–some of whom he is related to–in order to understand the full story of his family’s ordeal in slavery.
Most interesting is that he supporting this project using “online crowd-sourced fundraising” or “crowdfunding“. In other words, funds are raised online by small contributions from many people. He’s using Indiegogo, but other versions include Kickstarter and Donors Choose. Some projects related to historic places that are pursuing crowdfunding include:
- Classroom books to prepare for a visit to Manzanar National Historic Site using Donors Choose.
- A class field trip to Colonial Williamsburg using Donors Choose.
- Art supplies to support museum-inquiry and object-based learning using Donors Choose.
- Restoring the Uranium Drive-In sign in Naturita, Colorado using Indiegogo.
- Kcymaerxthaere Art Project in Abilene, Texas using Indiegogo (okay, this one is strange–he’s installing bronze plaques at historic sites that honor events from a parallel world)
- Aerial photo documentation of Pittsburgh’s historic industrial sites using Kickstarter.
- Preservation of an historic sign from the Woodstock music festival site by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame using Kickstarter.
- Creation of public museum space for exhibits by the Wilson History and Research Center using Kickstarter.
If you have a discrete project or program that needs funding and you have a compelling message, this might be the way to find new supporters.
Max–As a veteran (successful) of a Kickstarter project, I think it’s a great way to go for organizations, particularly smaller ones. Your readers might be interested in my series of blog posts about what we learned from our Kickstarter effort (The Pickle Project). You can find them here: http://bit.ly/ey6l8a Equal as important as the funds is the fact that a year on, we continue to see benefits in terms of interest and support from all over. Our Kickstarter backers (many cultural professionals among them) are the best!