Esther Larson in Philanthropy Daily: How Blockchain Can Help Fund Artists—And Revive The Arts

In an op-ed recently published in Philanthropy Daily, “How blockchain can help fund artists—and revive the arts,” Program Director for Philanthropy Roundtable Esther Larson, and COO and co-founder of Living Opera, Christos A. Makridis, wrote that philanthropists have a unique opportunity to fund individual artists directly through pragmatic giving tools like blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens. Larson and Makridis explain how these methods benefit both the philanthropist and artist, while making the case for micro-philanthropy to diversify charitable giving in the arts.

Below are excerpts from the article:

“Giving to arts, culture, and humanities organizations in the United States increased by roughly 27% from 2020 to 2021 rising to $23.5 billion, according to Giving USA Foundation. And yet, large art institutions attract the majority of arts related funding instead of individual artists. Because of the reputational benefits and seemingly reduced risk in giving to large institutions, this concentration of funding often deters direct support of individual artists.”

“Decentralized philanthropy—small donations aiming at big impact—has the capacity to propel the arts in significant ways. For opera singer, Soula Parassidis, this approach changed her life. After recovering from cancer and overcoming the odds to graduate from the University of British Columbia, she was approached by a local philanthropist who thought she had promise as an opera singer. Parassidis presented him with a business proposal, and he gave a life-changing gift of a few thousand dollars. That generosity was enough to make it possible for Parassidis to move to Germany to train, and, after a lot of hard work, launch an international career and even a worldwide arts community called Living Opera that is aimed at empowering other artists.”

“Unfortunately, these stories of direct connection between donor and artist are the exception, not the rule. Despite all the funding that fine arts institutions receive in philanthropy, very little of it is passed through to artists. In fact, our research and surveys by Living Opera show that real wages for artists have declined over time and that most artists are bearing a bigger financial burden than ever before. For example, 53% report having a job outside of the arts to fund their primary calling, and 54% were clinically diagnosed with depression—arguably driven by the financial precarity and challenge of settling down when going from gig-to-gig.”

“Enter blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have the capacity to facilitate philanthropy in the arts. Although NFTs and the broader cryptocurrency market faced some challenges and controversy in 2022—which are unrelated to the technology—when used appropriately, this technology can serve as a democratizing force within philanthropy by providing a transparent, more open forum for artists and philanthropists. This technology has the potential to take Parassidis’ rare experience and make it a more regular occurrence for artists.”

Please continue reading “How blockchain can help fund artists—and revive the arts,” at Philanthropy Daily.

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