Celebrating Five Years of Kickstarter in the UK
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Five years ago today a Kickstarter team was supposed to be over in the UK celebrating our first international expansion. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy trapped them in a soggy New York. But the Kickstarter community in the UK quickly flourished regardless: In the last five years, 27,500 UK projects have launched, and they’ve attracted £168 million in pledges.
This felt like the right moment to look back at some of our favorite UK projects. It was a tough list to whittle down, but we hope it conveys the breadth of the creativity that has come out of Kickstarter in the UK, and the impact those projects have had at home and abroad.
Emilie Holmes’s project for her Good & Proper Tea Truck launched on our first day in the UK, and the truck was soon serving up tea to Londoners — and backers visiting from the US and elsewhere… Alan Moore, the author of V for Vendetta, funded His Heavy Heart, the conclusion to a deliciously dark film series… The videogame Elite: Dangerous raised £1.6 million and has evolved into one of the world’s best spaceflight games… Kelly Angood set the tone for many retro-tech projects to come with her Pop-Up Pinhole Project… Some folks in Liverpool got together to reopen a local bakery as a cooperative, and it’s since become a community revitalization hub.
Aardman Animation used Kickstarter to bring back the beloved character Morph for a new series of shorts… Former students at Central Saint Martins published a book featuring the artwork of Howard Tangye, a legend at the school… Kano showed that kids everywhere were eager to build their own computers… Primo shared an early version of Cubetto, their friendly learn-to-code robot, then put everything they learned from that project into a new version... ShaoLan Hsueh launched Chineasy, a learning tool for Chinese, and ended up on a flight to China with the British prime minister.
We took the Kickstarter Film Festival and a batch of workshops to London, and we saw loads of projects from creators heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival… Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling raised £105,000 for their freakish cult-hit film series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared… Eliot Higgins funded Bellingcat, his hub for citizen investigative journalists… The artist Lucy Sparrow sewed up a storm and sold felt groceries at The Cornershop (a New York version spawned a million Instagrams)... Loving Vincent, an animated film about Van Gogh made up entirely of oil paintings, is now playing in theaters around the world… We loved Charlie Phillips’s photographs of 50 years of African-Caribbean funerals in London.
Emily Brooke’s Blaze bike lights, which laser-beam the image of a bike onto the street, took over London’s fleet of hire bikes… Backers helped resurrect the Thunderbirds series from the ‘60s… The comedian Richard Herring funded the first of his five (!) video projects… The Royal Academy of Arts funded an exhibit of Ai Weiwei’s tree sculptures… The Thames Baths project united 1,273 backers behind the vision of a floating pool in London… and Mr. Bingo discovered that many, many people love to receive hate mail.
The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service replaced all the ads in a tube station with pictures of cats, to get people thinking about how we use public space… The Design Museum opened in London with a special Kickstarter display and a number of projects in its collection… Dark Souls: The Board Game raised £3.8 million to became the most-funded UK project… Technology Will Save Us continued the British tradition of great STEM projects with its Mover Kit… The Science Museum in London rebuilt Eric, the UK’s first robot, and brought him to vivid red-eyed life… Monty’s Deli, a “real Jewish deli” in London, graduated from market stall to full-blown restaurant with help from backers.
2017 (so far)
Granby Workshop of Liverpool launched Splatware and hung out with us at the London Design Festival… Speaking of Liverpool, Gary Usher just opened his fourth restaurant there, Wreckfish… The musician Kate Nash asked her backers to be her record label and raised $155,000… The Russian rock band Pussy Riot and the theater collective Les Enfants Terribles funded a London stage show telling the Pussy Riot story… The London Centre for Book Arts found 470 backers to help it expand into a larger space.
Thanks to all of our UK creators and to everyone who has supported UK projects. If they inspire a project of your own, no matter where you live… get to it!