Kickstarter – projects looking for a little help in St. Paul

Do you know about Kickstarter?  It’s a creative micro-finance  program for all kinds of projects.

I came across  this yesterday while snooping around for fun things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. With the  St. Paul Sidewalk Poetry contest coming to a conclusion on April 17, poetry has been on my mind, and this concept for a road side attraction twitched my imagination.  Can you see it at the top of Ramsey Hill? While revving in neutral at a 30 degree incline  while in line at the stop sign?

Kickstarter offers people a place to make a plea for financing their projects, and encourages very creative attempts at persuading funders.   Videos are recommended.  Premiums for donating are offered for  most pledges – the magnitude of reward in geometric proportions to the size of the pledge.   Here are some examples.

You get the drift. The website makes for an interesting hour or more of reading, and is a great editorial on the creative juices flowing in this country.

An interesting “kicker” is that if the project does not reach its full funding needs,  your pledge to the project is never realized. So you can give a project a moral boost, while waiting for it to reach  its goal. When it reaches the funding goal, the funds you have committed are withdrawn.

Here are the projects vying for funding in St. Paul this week.   After reading the descriptions and watching the videos, I will definitely be making a pledge to help out.  It provides a more immediate  pleasure to help out a struggling artist with a face and a personal message, or even an established artist making a creative plea,  than to be one of thousands of donors to a large institution.   $50 just seems to stretch a lot further with Kickstarter.

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Coming to a street near you

Pianos on Parade is a joint venture between the Mayor‘s office,  the Keys 4/4 Kids program, and other area sponsors that promises to make beautiful music in St. Paul this summer.

I’ve passed by the storefront of Keys 4 Kids a dozen times a month and always wondered  what they were up to.

From their website,

“Established in 2000 by founder Newell Hill in his parent’s garage in Woodbury, MN, Keys 4/4 Kids has since expanded to both Chicago and Kansas City and sells over 500 pianos every year. All profits benefit the Maureen Conway Foundation (MCF).

Maureen Conway was Newell’s high school history teacher that inspired him to give back to others. The mission of MCF is to inspire young people to believe in themselves through the arts.”

In short, you can donate a used piano to  Keys 4 Kids (a 501 c 3), take a tax deduction,  and know that the proceeds from the sale are being used for a number of area arts enrichment programs.

This summer the program is stepping up its civic engagement with Pianos on Parades.  Fifteen  pianos will be tricked up by area artists, who are picked in a juried process (decisions will be made soon).   From April 15-May 15  chosen artists will work at transforming the pianos. Their parameters were fairly open – “Use any medium you want—paint, wood, video, recycled materials, etc., and base your design on a piece of music or other musical inspiration.”

Starting June 4 the pianos will be placed in various sites throughout St. Paul.  As the organization notes,  “From our experience as the official charitable focus of last year’s Uptown Art Fair, we learned one very valuable lesson: if a piano is available, someone will sit down and play. And, if someone is playing a piano, a crowd will gather to watch and listen.”

Pianos on Parade is still looking for sponsors for this  program.

Brush up on your chopsticks, throw a lawn chair in the trunk of your car, and look for an impromptu concert around the streets of St. Paul this summer.