Crowdfunding Wood Circle – Richard Long – for the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

Augustus – October 2011

Richard Long’s Wood Circle had been on loan to the Van Abbemuseum for many years. And then the owners decided to sell it, giving the museum the chance to buy it. But the money needed for the purchase wasn’t in the museum’s budget. At the request of the museum’s management, I wrote a plan to raise a basic amount of at least € 30,000 euro through crowdfounding so the museum could buy the artwork. Crowdfunding not only made it possible to keep Wood Circle, it also put the purchase on the map and enabled the museum to successfully switch to other forms of financing such as public funding. The goals consisted of creating ambassadorship, co-ownership of the artwork, responsibility for public ownership of art, and national attention.

My job consisted of structuring the start-up phase, writing a plan, defining the goals, a strategy, and the tasks that needed performing, as well as the planning and action items. Looking into best practices in the Netherlands basically. Personal letters to and discussions with potential financiers. Synchronizing the financial administration with Voordekunst, BKKC/Voordekunst.nl. Showing the art connoisseurs and teachers, managers, curators and implementers around the museum. This meant a lot of supervising and putting guidelines in place. But it also meant delegating work to others.

We raised € 30,000 through crowdfunding and agreed with BankGiroLoterij (BGL) that the additional funding of more than € 100,000 would be obtained from the annual grant awarded by BGL. This got publicity for BGL. All of the names of the donors are published on the room’s white wall.

At the same time, the city council of Eindhoven was discussing cost-cutting measures. The project’s success showed that creative business is possible. I gave a presentation on the identity and the importance of the museum at the Raadszaal in Eindhoven.

The Dutch newspapers Volkskrant and NRC presented the Wood Circle project as one of the first big crowdfunding activities in the Netherlands. This was Van Abbemuseum’s way of giving its support and name to BKKC/Voordekunst.nl when they started their crowdfunding projects as a result of the government’s cutbacks in the cultural sector.