Art Happens: Get involved

Interested in running a crowdfunding campaign on Art Happens? Here's everything you need to know.

Jerwood Gallery raised almost £30,000 towards their exhibition of Jake and Dinos Chapman © Nic Serpell-Rand

Jerwood Gallery raised almost £30,000 towards their exhibition of Jake and Dinos Chapman

Art Happens is the only crowdfunding platform for UK museums and gallery projects. It was launched by the Art Fund in June 2014 and is completely free of charge to use. To date we have raised almost £480,000 for projects across the country, ranging from new exhibitions to conservation projects and art commissions.

The platform has been designed to harness the reach of the web to bring together potential donors with UK museums and galleries, offering donors the opportunity to receive rewards in return for their backing. We believe the use of reward-based crowdfunding techniques could, over time, open up a new funding source for museums and we’re keen to experiment how crowdfunding can work effectively for a broad range of museums and galleries, big and small, national or regional. 

What projects are you looking for?

Any accredited museum or gallery is eligible to crowdfund through Art Happens, as well as not-for-profit visual arts organisations with a public focus. We are looking for projects that create a compelling story for the public and have a public-facing, visible outcome. If you are considering a project, a good question to ask yourself is: how would I tell a friend or family member about this project and would they find it interesting or compelling? If the answer is no, it’s probably not the right kind of project for crowdfunding. We recommend that you approach us with two to three ideas, rather than just one.

How much money can we raise through the platform?

Our experience suggests that Art Happens is suitable for art projects between £10,000 and £25,000. We expect you to share with us a draft budget for any proposed project.

What are the timings around raising and spending the money?

We constantly go live with new projects on the site, trying to work within our partner museums’ ideal time-frames. The project you have crowdfunded should be completed within 12 to 15 months after the crowdfunding campaign. Most campaigns run for 30 to 40 days.

Art Happens won an Emcees award in 2016 for Best Use of Digital Channels in Fundraising

Art Happens won an Emcees award in 2016 for Best Use of Digital Channels in Fundraising

How do you select the partner museums and their projects?

There isn’t a formal selection process. If you are interested in featuring a project on Art Happens, please get in touch (see contact details below). We usually invite those interested in participating to submit a summary proposal for two or three potential projects, with budgets. We then invite you to a crowdfunding workshop day in London with several other museums and galleries. At that day we’ll talk more about what is needed to run campaigns, including how to create a strong donor proposition, compelling rewards and pitch video, and how to run the campaign and maintain momentum. Attendance at the workshop doesn’t always mean we will automatically feature one of your projects; occasionally participants decide they need to go back to the drawing board.

What do you expect the museums to contribute?

The platform is free to use and we also provide support in making the video, and creating and fulfilling the rewards. We do, however, require museum staff to be fully on board, from the director and trustees to the front-of-house team; as advocates for your campaign, they will be essential for its success. The crowdfunding target can only be met when the museum reaches out to new audiences and networks, in addition to promoting the project to its existing audiences. The Art Fund will provide additional support in promoting the featured projects through its communication channels.

We want to make a minimal impact on participating museums’ financial resources. Therefore we only expect the museum to contribute staff resources and indirect costs, such as for the rewards (eg curatorial time in giving a talk or use of a gallery space to fulfil an event).

What happens if we don't raise the full amount?

The Art Fund is committed to making as many projects a success as possible; we will work with individual project owners to maximise the impact of their campaign. However, we have to recognise that not all projects will be successful. If the target amount isn’t reached at the end of the campaign, we offer project supporters the opportunity to transfer their donation to another campaign or to have their donation refunded.

Want to know more?

For a full picture of what it takes to run a successful Art Happens campaign, read our case studies.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact Merrin Kalinowski on 020 7225 4888 or mkalinowski@artfund.org.

Art Happens has been made possible with the support of a consortium of funders, including Arts Council England.