$10,021
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
98
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 18 2018 3:21 PM UTC +00:00
Marc FieldsBy Marc Fields
First created
Marc FieldsBy Marc Fields
First created
$10,021
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
98
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 18 2018 3:21 PM UTC +00:00

About

“Music is like the front porch of a culture. It is often where people first look and see each other.” — Harry Belafonte

If the banjo is arguably our front porch instrument, then The Banjo Project is our digital front porch, where people can see each other anew within the rich history of America’s quintessential instrument.

Brought to the New World by enslaved Africans, the banjo is the product of three centuries of cultural exchanges, appropriations and face-to-face interactions, traveling between the margins and the mainstream. It has helped to shape many American and transnational musical forms: Caribbean styles, the minstrel show, ragtime and early jazz, blues, oldtime, bluegrass, the folk revival, bluegrass, country and world. Its rich and contested history highlights lingering conflicts — race, gender, class, region, and folk vs. pop — still at the heart of American society today. “The banjo is at the root of roots music,” folklorist Joe Wilson told us. “It’s embedded. It goes to the bone.”

Landing page for The Banjo Project
Landing page for The Banjo Project

We’re planning to launch The Banjo Project’s digital museum in June 2019 with the help of this Kickstarter campaign to fund the final stages of production, editing and licensing. Our digital museum is still under construction – here’s a quick tour of what’s to come:

Sample landing page: http://banjo.emerson.edu/ 

Sample Narratives page: http://banjo.emerson.edu/narratives 

Sample Players page: http://banjo.emerson.edu/players/earl-scruggs 

Sample Timeline marker: http://banjo.emerson.edu/timelines/stewart-champion

ABOUT THE BANJO PROJECT: Since 2002, The Banjo Project has produced and collected over 300 hours of original video, with interviews and performances by banjoists in all styles: Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Rhiannon Giddens, Mike Seeger, Taj Mahal, Sonny Osborne, Cynthia Sayers, Don Vappie and many others, as well as expert commentary from banjo builders, historians and researchers. Meanwhile, over the past decade, there has been a quiet explosion of cultural history research, critical reappraisal, and musical reinvention, including producer Marc Fields’ PBS documentary Give Me the Banjo (narrated by Steve Martin, national broadcast 2011). 

 Marc knew from the start that the banjo’s long and contested history could not be fully represented in a standalone TV documentary. The challenge: how to leverage the new media technologies, our archive of original media and the wealth of recent scholarship to provide cultural context for the instrument, its diverse music and players, and make it accessible to the widest possible audience? We spent the past seven years developing other media platforms, finally arriving at an innovative online media platform we’re calling a digital museum.

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WHAT IS A DIGITAL MUSEUM?   Built on a searchable archive of original media, archival footage, stills and recordings, The Banjo Project is an online cultural resource center devoted to the instrument’s colorful and complicated history, combining interactive documentary, up-to-date research and curated content. It will also serve as the hub for a consortium of partner institutions, scholars and collectors, providing them with portals to showcase related content. When the diverse styles and purveyors of banjo music are placed in their historical context, users become a community of storytellers building narratives around the banjo that overcome boundaries of race, culture, class, region and gender. Hearing the music is just the first step in an odyssey spanning three centuries of trans-Atlantic culture.

Players Page -- another interactive feature in our digital museum
Players Page -- another interactive feature in our digital museum

WHAT YOU CAN DO: In 2011, Kickstarter backers made it possible to complete the feature-length documentary Give Me the Banjo, which aired on national PBS and was seen by millions. But the TV documentary could only tell part of the story.  The Banjo Project digital museum will make it possible for users to discover for themselves many different stories, in many different ways — the known, the hidden and the unexpected.

Every contribution is tax-deductible (minus the market value of the gift) as a donation to The Center for Independent Documentary, the 501c3 fiscal sponsor for The Banjo Project since 2002.  Join The Banjo Project community on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/thebanjoproject for the latest clips from interviews and performances, and view more content at http://banjo.emerson.edu/ .  If you can't support today, please share this Kickstarter campaign with friends and family on social media to spread the word about our digital museum for — as Mark Twain described it — “the glory-beaming banjo.”

WHAT THE FUNDS WILL ACCOMPLISH:  Funding will make it possible to pay our production team and collaborating artists. Targeted items include 3D scans of historic banjos, digitizing complete interviews and performances, editing/mixing/color correction on 25-30 mini-narratives, and rights and permissions for recordings and footage.

TIMELINE FOR COMPLETION:  Preparing and installing the remainder of the media content for our permanent galleries will take 6-8 months, so we hope to open The Banjo Project digital museum by June 1, 2019.

Risks and challenges

After years of work, most of the heavy lifting is done. The feature-length PBS doc "Give Me the Banjo" (2011) was just the first media platform for our banjo history, funded in part by a 2010 Kickstarter campaign. The national broadcast was seen by millions and was selected for 15 festivals; the DVD with bonus content and digital distribution followed but only scratched the surface of our content and the potential reach of the banjo's rich history.

We began development of the online interactive platform in 2010 with a $10,000 New Media Grant from Mass Humanities, followed by private donations and faculty development grants to Marc Fields from Emerson College. This past year, Marc's small but dedicated team of media professionals realized his vision for a curated, interactive experience built on interlocking stories -- a digital museum.

Using our "museum" metaphor, all of the key elements are in place: we have the collection (300+ hours of original video, archival footage and stills, as well as edited vignettes), secured the location (server and storage by Emerson College), designed and built the structure from the "back-end" architecture to the interactive features and user interface. Now as we enter the final phase of construction, we need your support: for rights and permissions, digitizing and editing, "populating" the content, polishing the graphics and animation. Through the Kickstarter campaign, we're giving our supporters and consultants a tour of our digital museum under construction. The remaining challenge is to prepare and populate our media galleries so that we can finally open our digital museum to the public.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    MUSEUM DONOR (tax deductible)

    Thanks on the website and shout out on The Banjo Project Facebook page.

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    MUSEUM DONOR (tax deductible)

    Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo," narrated by Steve Martin, with Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Rhiannon Giddens, Mike Seeger, Don Vappie, Tony Trischka, Abigail Washburn, Bob Carlin, Sonny Osborn, etc. (from private link)
    Thanks on the website and shout out on FB Page.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    MUSEUM DONOR (tax deductible)

    Cool (and handy) tote bag with the logo “The Banjo Project: A Digital Museum.” Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo" from private link. Thanks on the website and shout out on The Banjo Project Facebook page.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    MUSEUM DONOR (tax deductible)

    Original 8X10 glossy photo (or digital version outside US)) of Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka jamming in Nashville (production still from 2006 shoot for The Banjo Project). Tote bag with The Banjo Project logo (US delivery only). Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo." Thanks on the website and shout out on The Banjo Project's Facebook page.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    MUSEUM DONOR (tax deductible)

    Original 16 x 20 poster: Mark Twain’s quote about “the glory-beaming banjo:” “...Give me the banjo… When you want genuine music, etc.” illustrated with the diverse players and instruments that make up its history. (Digital delivery if outside US; makes a great desktop image). Tote bag with logo. (US delivery only). +Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo." Thanks on the website and shout out on The Banjo Project's Facebook page.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    MUSEUM PATRON (tax deductible)

    LESSONS WITH TONY TRISCHKA -- 4 free lessons on Tony's School of Banjo website. 8X10 glossy photo (digital version outside of US) of Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka jamming in Nashville (production still from 2006 shoot for The Banjo Project). +Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo." Thanks on the website and shout out on The Banjo Project's Facebook page.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    MUSEUM PATRON (tax deductible)

    FUND A 3D SCAN WITH 4K MODELING AND ANNOTATIONS for a historic banjo: e.g. Pete Seeger’s long-necked Vega, Earl Scruggs’ Mastertone, banjos belonging to Harry Reser, Eddie Peabody, or made by notable builders such as Fred Van Eps and Kyle Creed. (See the Stewart Champion 3D scan on the Banjo Design Timeline for example -- http://banjo.emerson.edu/timelines/stewart-champion). Your name will be credited in the 3D scan display. +Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo."

    Includes:
    • Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo."
    • Includes all DONOR rewards (digital when shipping outside US)
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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    MUSEUM CO-CURATOR (tax deductible)

    SPONSOR A GALLERY – Our innovative design makes it possible for The Banjo Project to present and co-curate banjo-related content that’s in other collections, with the cooperation of major cultural institutions (museums, archives, music education) and private collectors. We would add a gallery tab to the feature listing (Narratives, Players, Timelines, etc.) Gallery themes already being considered: The Banjo and the African Diaspora, Folk Festivals, Jazz Pulse. Your name credited on the gallery display page. +Stream the full-length broadcast of "Give Me the Banjo."

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    MUSEUM CO-CURATOR (tax deductible)

    FUND A NARRATIVE -- Think of it as a mini-documentary, based on what’s available in our archive. See “Guided Narratives” for examples. Possible topics include “Untold Stories: Women Banjoists,” “Round Peak Style,” “New Orleans Banjo,” “Ragged and Refined (Classic Banjo),” “Dance and the Banjo” or other possibilities . Your name credited on the Narratives page.

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Funding period

- (45 days)