Crowd sourcing moves to the Fringe

A woman wearing a tank top and a boa against the cold winter air, approaches commuters in downtown Toronto. She begins an interpretive dance and sings a rendition of On My Own from Les Miserables.

She’s caught their attention, but it isn’t just the song and dance that draws them in. It’s her bright red nose. She is a clown. And she has 10 days to reach her goal of $3,250.

The performer is Rachel Resnik, alias Velma Patterson. With her partner, Julie Santini, Resnik co-founded Bum Chic Productions. They are attempting to fund a third run of In Denial, a one-woman show that features Resnik. The funding she seeks she says make the show better.

“Right now it’s all kind of guerilla theatre with me and my partner trying to figure it out on our own,” Resnik said. “We’ve learned the skills, but we want to go to someone professional to do it so it has more of a professional look.”

Resnik and Santini have posted a campaign on the new crowd-funding site, started by Toronto Fringe, called “Fund What You Can.”

The site is designed to help independent artists raise money necessary to showcase their talent, covering such costs as rehearsal space and props. Claire Wynveen is Toronto Fringe communications manager.

“We noticed that many Fringe artists and indie theatre artists were turning to Indiegogo and KickStart and sites like that to raise funds for their productions,” she said. “And we noticed that those sites take a fairly substantial cut of the returns.”

Toronto Fringe has decided to charge artists considerably less than the usual four-to-nine per cent – instead, a fee of 3.5 percent, which doesn’t take affect until August of this year.

“Those are for profit companies that are taking a percentage of our Canadian artists dividends,” Wynveen said.

Toronto Fringe is not only helping out with the finances, but also the technology.

“They really provided a lot of guidance and support helping us build our campaign from the ground up,” Resnik said. “This could’ve been something really scary to build, because technology can be terrifying. … They even held a workshop to help us get started.”

The site, fwyc.ca, was officially launched in March. It has drawn in artists of all disciplines from across the country and has already helped raised thousands of dollars.