Tropfest founders start $100,000 crowd-funding campaign to find ‘sustainable business model’

The founders of troubled short film festival Tropfest have taken to crowd-funding site Pozible to raise $100,000 to undertake a review to find a “sustainable business model” for the free event.

tropfest needs you

Founder John Polson was forced to pull the plug on the world’s largest short film festival last November just a month before it was set to take place in Sydney, after the company contracted to run it ran into financial difficulties.

However sponsor CGU Insurance stepped in to cover the extra costs of the event, which has been rescheduled for Sunday February 14.

According to the Pozible site: “Funds raised through crowd funding will be used to cover the cost of the strategic review, governance review, some vital audience research and focus groups and developing a business model that is genuinely sustainable.

“We need to find new partners and new ways of funding what we do best while remaining true to our values of inclusivity and accessibility.”

In a video on the site Tropfest founder Polson says it is the first time in its 23 year history the event has asked for public contributions to help sustain it.

“We’re hoping to raise $100,000 through the Pozible campaign to help us rebuild Tropfest as a sustainable event with a bright future,” said Polson in the video.

“We’ll be using the funds raised to work with advisors to help us restructure  our business, identify future sponsorships and to make sure Australian filmmakers and Australian culture continues to have a strong voice through this organisation.”

At the time of publication it had raised $820 from six donors with 19 days left to go.

Different levels of donations come with different levels of rewards:

  • $10 gets a thanks; $25 getting a social media shout out;
  • $50 a ‘badge of honour’ from the festival;
  • $100 a “snazzy” Tropfest cap;
  • $250 a “fashionable Tropfest bag;
  • $500 reserved seats for the event;
  • $525 a “chat with Jackson Mullane” who came second in the 2014 contest;
  • $550 a “chat with Gabriel Dowrick” who won the best young filmmaker title in 2005;
  • $575 “meet Jason van Genderen” the 2008 winner;
  • $1,000 “The movie star treatment” with access to the VIP area of the festival;
  • $5,000 is “walk the red carpet” including access to the VIP afterparty;
  • and for $10,000 it’s “The Polson Experience” where you can shadow John Polson on Tropfest day to see what he does.

topfest crowd funding polson experience

A breakdown of the costs is as follows:

tropfest fundraising graph

Strategic review and business model restructure: $45,000
Finance & governance review: $7,500
Research – filmmakers, industry, audiences, supporters: $20,000
Fundraising plan development: $17,500
Travel & accommodation (domestic): $5,000
Project expenses – conferencing, research materials, printing, transcribing, admin: $5,000
TOTAL: $100,000

The campaign runs until February 19.

Alex Hayes



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