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How does a Juilliard grad get a viola? She goes Indiegogo

Here’s the story, in Crista’s own words, exclusive to Slipped Disc:

My name is Crista Kende and I am a violist using modern technology to do something that has never been done before. I am currently crowdfunding the purchase of a fine string instrument on Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com/violaforcrista).

Many highly trained musicians struggle to own an instrument commensurate with their skills, and the quality of an instrument can either propel an artist forward or hold them back. Some musicians are lucky enough to have foundations or private benefactors supply rare and expensive instruments. Those less fortunate are forced to take out risky loans or pour their entire savings into one costly purchase – all to secure the use of an instrument that may increase their chance of landing a prestigious job.

For more than a decade, I was one of the lucky ones. A small foundation generously provided me with a fine 19th century French viola to use during my most formative years as a young musician. However, all loans eventually come to an end and just as I received my Masters from Juilliard, I was literally left empty handed and without the instrument necessary to turn my degree into a career. I began to search for the perfect instrument, hoping to find a historic and mature viola within my price rage. I quickly learned that such a magical combination of quality and affordability is virtually nonexistent in the old instrument market. I changed course and upon the recommendation of many colleagues, began to consider contemporary violas. I eventually ended up in the shop of Guy Rabut, one of today’s top craftsmen, and decided that his violas had the sound and quality I needed to progress professionally. Even though modern violas are much more affordable than older instruments, cost remained an issue for me. Determined to find a practical way to purchase one of Guy’s violas, I was drawn to Indiegogo and the concept of crowdfunding.

Fast becoming an effective fundraising tool in the arts world, crowdfunding helps artists connect with communities of people who share their passion. I prepared a campaign on Indiegogo, and tapped into my musical skills to offer a series of “perks” (recordings, lessons and concerts) in exchange for contributions. Centuries ago, artists relied on the support of donors like the Medicis and large institutions. Today, technology allows me to create modern-day patrons, whose combined small contributions can make large projects happen. During these difficult economic times, government support of the arts has further dwindled and private individuals are the main source of funding for creative activities. Crowdfunding makes it easy for almost anyone to become a patron of the arts – for the price of a single NYC cocktail an individual can be part of a large creative project and make a difference for an artist!

I see my campaign as an opportunity to lead by example and revolutionize the way classical musicians go about purchasing fine instruments.

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Comments

  1. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    The wave of the future. Here is another project achieved through a different web funder. They take 5% (kickstarter) when the project is fully funded. The publicity for the artist and the project is well worth the effort.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elizabethhainen/les-amis-a-recording-by-elizabeth-hainen

    It’s not clear if there are tax advantages to donors to these programs (my guess is that there are not). If the US/IRS eliminates or changes the federal income rules concerning charitable deductions, funding these projects could really take off because because a donor can actually see (and hear) the result of their gift. No need for 501-3c status in the USA (which requires a lot of work and often legal fees) for start-up enterprises with this system. This could be the worst nightmare of traditional arts groups.

  2. Matching up a good violist with a good instrument this way is, I believe, a most appropriate application of “crowd sourcing.” Think of it as an investment in a young person who wants to do her best to improve the world through music. I applaud Crista’s ingenuity, audacity, sincerity, and her very lovely playing.

  3. Dear Elaine and Robert,

    Thank you for your kind words and support of my project! I sincerely hope others follow in my footsteps and use this effective tool to lessen the financial burden of owning an instrument.

    8 days to go with the campaign!

    Best wishes,
    Crista

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