Kickstarter Is On Track to Out-Fund the National Endowment for the Arts

Yancey Strickler, a co-founder of Kickstarter, said today that the crowd-sourced funding machine is on track to distribute over $150 million in 2012–more than the National Endowment for the Arts, which has a 2012 operating budget of $146 million. That’s incredibly impressive for Kickstarter, which has been on a roll lately, what with sending 31 Kickstarter-funded films to SXSW and breaking records with the new Double Fine Productions adventure game.

It also goes to show just how underfunded the NEA really is. As a comparison, the Canada Council for the Arts, the roughly equivalent organization up north, has a budget of around $181 million USD–supporting a population a tenth the size. But it’s not a one-to-one comparison. Kickstarter funds all kinds of things the NEA doesn’t, especially consumer items like the big-money-earning iPod Nano watch kit and this iPhone dock. Kickstarter has very little overhead cost compared to the running of a government agency, and (so far, at least) doesn’t have to fight off congressional attacks every few years. And the NEA has very different responsibilities in terms of what it does and does not fund; Kickstarter, for example, is under no obligation to fund traditional or folk artists, and the NEA is unlikely to even attempt to fund your college roommate’s documentary about the wild raccoons of Jackson, Mississippi. So it’s not entirely fair to plant them side-by-side and shake a finger.

Still, it’s great news for Kickstarter, and for us as well–it can only be a good thing to have an influential, democratic system to fund the creative projects that can’t get funding through the NEA, or the major publishers of games, movies, and music.

[via Talking Points Memo]

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Yancey Strickler’s name.