The Puzzle of Patronage

PATRONAGE: noun

  • the support or influence of a patron
  • the patronage of science by universities

Historically, artists, musicians, writers, and inventors would search out wealthy kings, popes, philanthropists and other folks of influence. Sometimes those influential people would search out artists, scholars, and the aforementioned creatives to sponsor. They would support the creative with social prestige, contacts through networking, encouragement and financial aid. 

Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and William Shakespeare all had patrons. The British Royal Family lends their patronage to various charities through exposure, contacts, time and occasionally, endowments. Modern benefactors support art galleries, museums, theater companies and other creative endeavours through financial support. Venture capitalists do the same sort of thing – supporting start-ups and emerging companies with growth potential. Only here, we’re talking about creative-folk. 

So why am I talking about this today? Because YOU can be a part of all this! 

On Patreon, patrons can support creators with either a fixed amount per month or every time the artist releases a new piece of art/piece of writing/podcast/whatever. A creator displays a goal that the ongoing revenue will go towards, so you can see what your support will be used for. Patrons can cancel their payments at any time. So what’s in it for you? Creators usually provide membership benefits for their patrons, which varies depending on their artistic mediums and the level of support. It could be a one-on-one with a rising star in film, or musician. You might get an exclusive sneak peek at a new piece of artwork before the general public does, or read a new chapter from a favourite author, or see an exclusive video from an animator. It all depends on the benefits each creator offers. But basically, fans subscribe either per work or per month in exchange for premium content.

Consider this, a donation of $3/month to a writer who promises to share exclusive flash fiction and sneak peeks at their current work in progress doesn’t sound like much, right? But if 15 people – patrons – all contribute $3/month that’s an income of $540/year. That could be the difference between paying car insurance or not. So your $3 enables a writer to get their own car to drive their kids to soccer, enabling the kids to be healthier. Or that extra $3 becomes part of a fund to help put someone’s kid through college. Or an emergency medical fund, or gas money for someone who has to travel for an ongoing medical procedure. My point is, what might seem to be a measly $3 to one person may become a part of something larger with enormous impact in someone else’s life. 

Is becoming a patron something you can do? Only you know the answer to that, but I do hope you’ll pop over to patreon.com and check them out. You might be surprised at the good you can do. If it appeals to you, you can find my page at https://www.patreon.com/cmcbride

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