Our Spacehive for King's Cross Gyratory : spacehive.com/gyrateimprovekingscross
|King's Cross Square will soon open: but what will happen to the streets and paths separating it from its surroundings?|
Towns slammed for wasting Portas cash, but others are embracing the Web to “crowdfund” life back into UK’s battered town centres
A row around the slow progress being made by councils handed £1.2m in grants to rebuild battered high streets is building with predictable fervour.
The Independent has reported that the so-called "Portas Pilots" have spent just 12 per cent of the £1.2m awarded in May, citing Freedom of Information Requests sent to councils.The "town team" have also received criticism for spending £1,600 on a Peppa Pig costume and nearly £1,000 on postage, according to the paper.But other towns across the UK have embraced crowdfunding, where the cost of civic projects is shared via the Web, to kickstart town centre revival.
One town team, in Mansfield, took a portion of the Portas cash and raised the rest of the money they needed to pay for free town centre Wi-Fi by putting their project on Spacehive.com.Business groups as far a field as Swansea, Ealing, Mansfield, Ramsgate, High Wycombe and Somerset have an array of creative initiatives grabbing local attention – and local cash.A group outside Edinburgh turned an old phonebox into a microgallery, while a project in High Wycombe is turning empty shops into hubs to train young entrepreneurs.Experian, the data giants, have agreed the first national match-funding initiative, offering Spacehive projects chunks of a £100,000 pot to get funding campaigns moving.
Crowdfunding was pioneered in the USA by Kickstarter, which would typically be used to fund creative and digital projects. Spacehive takes the model to public space, and those who pledge only get charged if projects hit their funding targets. Bidders give money philanthropically – so they don’t retain any financial ownership over projects. But of course, those pledging towards local art projects or kids playgrounds get to benefit from using the great things they fund.Nesta, the government’s innovation charity, has predicted that £15 billion would be raised in the UK alone through crowdfunding in 2015.
Chris Gourlay, founder of Spacehive.com, said:“Getting our high streets back on track isn’t going to happen overnight but by embracing the Web we can tap into new sources of funding and create more cohesive communities. Crowdfunding is already enabling some brilliant ideas to come to fruition, and what we need to do is embrace local creativity without letting it get stifled amid bureaucracy and waste.”
Notes for editors:What is crowdfunding?Crowdfunding is like a financial version of the concept underpinning Wikipedia - the idea that many hands make lighter work. The model works by taking online cash pledges - from businesses, public bodies and ordinary members of the public – and using them to fund popular projects.As well as raising money, crowdfunding maximises community engagement. Even though some people may only contribute a few pounds, every contribution represents a degree of ‘buy-in’ that accentuates their sense of ownership of their community.The model was pioneered in the USA by Kickstarter, which has been used to fund hundreds of millions of dollars worth of creative projects: from an Iraqi Shakespeare group who wanted to attend Oregon Shakespeare Festival through to new feature films.
What is Spacehive?Spacehive.com is a crowdfunding website specifically designed for the built environment. It’s been live since March and is now catching on across the UK.Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, BITC and the BPF and co-designed by Deloitte, the social enterprise maximises funding sources by allowing cash raised through the site to be combined with grants and other funding streams. People are only charged if the projects hit their targets.Spacehive.com offers bespoke project management tools for public space initiatives. Each project is also verified by independent partner organisations (ATCM is one of them) to ensure they are viable before they start funding.Spacehive projects have already attracted funders such as Tesco, Asda and Deloitte, as well as celebrity support from Stephen Fry, David Suchet and Ian Botham.
Media highlights:Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/local-government-network/2012/jun/08/crowdsourcing-community-funding-projectsIndependent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/crowdfunding-builds-towns-community-centre-7584350.htmlBBC Radio 4 Today Programme http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcoMI2YatEs&feature=plcpBBC Radio 5 Live http://audioboo.fm/boos/728079-spacehive-on-radio-5-live
Source: Spacehive Press Release 14 February 2013
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