Patronage vs. begging

Patronage vs. begging

Frequently, I read articles online and the best parts of the experience are the comments. I was about to launch a Crowd Funding campaign on Indiegogo, to further the marketing of my latest novel, Once On The Isle Of Spice. I felt slightly insecure about the venture, although it was not my first foray into the Crowd Funding space. About three years before, I had asked my community to finance my play: COWARDICE OF EYES. So I decided to test the waters again with my friends on Facebook, get their take on how my campaign might be regarded: the frequency of asking, and what’s offered in return for their largesse, gather the sentiments behind the entire exercise. I solicited comments on this question: what’s the difference between patronage and begging?

The experiment took on a life of its own. Some of my friends thought patronage meant giving an establishment their business, which is one connotation of the word. Although some of them didn’t fully grasp what I was asking, I knew they would be among the first to contribute to my project. My friend, Marc Moss, director of “Tell Me Something” led me to the musician, Amanda Palmer, the wife of Neil Gaiman. If you are unfamiliar with the books of Neil Gaiman, you should remedy that. And if you are unfamiliar with the music of Amanda Palmer, that’s a mistake. Her book, The Art of Asking, turned out to be a revelation of the most stunning kind. I was amazed at how asking the question led me down a road that I knew existed, but not to that extent. The Biblical phrase ‘ask and yea shall be given’ took on an added dimension. Specifically, by just asking in a cordial manner, people are inclined to offer their assistance and ask their friends and acquaintances to do the same. Others thought it was a form of artistic slavery. The artist is in the employment of the rich patron and would have to gain permission from said patron to do his or her artistry outside of the confines of the rich benefactor, what we call work-for-hire in this day and age. Not quite factual about the ancient arrangement, but close enough.

Some of my friends responded to all the implications of the word patronage and how it does not relate to the notion of begging, like the person on the street with their hands out asking for spare change or even the digital method known as Internet begging, asking for a donation and offering nothing in return. The various online platforms, Kick Starter, Indiegogo, Go Fund Me and others lend credibility to the idea of asking for patronage. What’s offered in return, something called perks changed the perspective of the entire application. It would be quite amazing to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in a couple weeks by begging. The whole thing was quite the eye opener, especially how people avoided using words like assistance, sponsorship and subsidy. Only one person grasped the notion of reciprocity, the give and take of things, how the patron expected something in exchange for their generosity and not fulfilling that expectation would be thievery. There are so much more to be said on this subject. A book can be written on the morality, ethics and the economic impacts of Crowd Funding. I think I’ll leave that to a more perceptive and coherent writer.

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