For the past few weeks, I’ve been working hard to promote a crowdfunding campaign to help a dear friend bring a remarkable theatre production to the grand stage of Athens, Greece. The reality of raising funds for arts projects is a daily challenge for artists everywhere, more so in Greece, where private sponsorship is still in its infancy, as there are not sufficient rewards to make arts an attractive investment.
My crowdfunding campaign and email requests sent for support and donations reminded me of an email I received a couple of years ago from a friend. In his email, my friend was asking us for financial donations in support of the family of his forty-two year old colleague, who had lost the battle of cancer and passed away leaving behind a young child and a wife who struggled with the terrible loss and the challenges of being new immigrants. I forwarded my friend’s message to all my friends and relatives, and on the following day, the inbox was flooded with email responses; some of my friends shared with me their thoughts of support, and that they will send money to the family; others recalled their struggles as immigrants and reading the email request made them realize how lucky they are, and how this family had not only to face the challenges of being newcomers, but also the loss of someone dear, the only one who financially supported the family; and of course, there were emails from skeptics asking more details about the family in need: their background, if I personally knew them, where exactly did they live, why their community (local church) wasn’t the one stepping up and helping, why the wife was unemployed, if this story was real, and so on.
No doubt, there are many thoughts that cross someone’s mind reading a request for solidarity and financial support. My intention is not to judge, nor to preach. However, when I read the responses, and most recently while running the Kickstarter campaign and facing the reticence for support, I was able to identify two main questions people reflect on whenever they are approached to donate money: is this really a true story, and will they (charity, family, organization, artist) use the money properly?
There is nothing wrong in wanting to know where our money goes, but it is not under our control how they will be spent. We don’t give them to control, and they are not ours (money) once we give them away. If our instinct tells us it is a worthwhile cause to support, then we need to trust also the new holder of our generous donation.
We often spend money for things we never use, for food products we buy but days or weeks later end up in the garbage as they expired; we give money to our children (“monthly allowance”) and do not restrict the use of the money on candies or video games – because we think these experiences are teaching them how to make buying decisions from an early stage. But we don’t give too easily twenty dollars to arts projects, charities, or people in need.
Twenty dollars might be the food we buy and never eat; the ticket to the movie we went to see last weekend but wasn’t worth it; the bottle of wine we bought, but it broke as we inattentively handled the bags when we unloaded the truck; the lottery tickets we purchased last month and, of course, we didn’t win.
We might think that we control our budget because we make the buying decisions. But are our money always spent wisely? Was there any chance that someone else would have benefited of them instead? From now on let’s not only think but also act when a financial request comes our way, not only because there is a need, but because it is a great joy to give and make a difference.
Please check my Kickstarter campaign, consider a large or small contribution, and forward it to anyone who you might think would be interested in supporting arts. We have a great list of rewards to say THANK YOU for your support, starting with as little as a $2 pledge (1 euro), the price of a coffee: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/constantinoshatzis/bring-chekhovs-iconic-play-the-seagull-to-life