Melbourne Spoken Word is excited and frightened to launch our Patreon campaign. We’re calling on our supporters to pledge to support this community organisation that supports the spoken word scene in Melbourne.

It’s a scary time to be an artist or working in the arts right now, especially in Australia. With arts budgets being cut, and therefore arts organisations facing the very real threat of closing, alongside the current pressures on artists to do things “for exposure” making earning a living harder and harder, it’s fair to say we’re all kind of staring at walls trying to work out ways to make this work.

It’s with this black cloud hanging over us poets that Melbourne Spoken Word is trying to work out how to make the organisation an actual organisation and to make it financially sustainable and how to look after the human beings at the heart of it, including yes, the author of this piece.

We’re working toward being a not-for-profit, becoming something you, yes you, can become a member of just like you subscribe to that journal, subscribe and support community radio, or become a member of Writers Victoria or Australian Poetry etc. We’re applying for grants and seeking out sponsorship.

In the meantime though, Melbourne Spoken Word is mostly run on its own steam, aside from that awesome crowdfunding campaign we ran that paid for the website and a new PA. We pay the poets who perform based on whatever’s in our account or from the ticket sales we get from the door. Sometimes we get small donations or sponsorship but it’s rare. We pay the contributors to Audacious from the sales of those albums. If there’s money left over from selling tickets to gigs, or selling Audacious or the small cut we take from selling poets books on the store, that goes toward paying website fees, the things we need to run gigs like hiring venues, printing, boosting a few Facebook posts – and sometimes a few tech goodies so we can expand, like camera gear and sound stuff.

There’s a bit missing though.

There’s a bit we don’t talk about much though. There are humans involved. Humans spend time doing things, which is a finite thing. We do it because we love poetry. We’re a bit addicted actually. But all the time we do this stuff because we want to help the poetry community grow and develop and strong is expensive. In that time, we need to eat, sleep, pay rent, buy poetry books, live and stuff, and if we have to go do some job (thing that we can’t find anyway) we spend less time doing the thing we love. We even think you might be in a similar position.

So like you buy a beer at the bar that supports poetry (ok, because you like beer too), or pay to get into a gig (or buy raffle tickets) to pay the people you see perform, or buy a poet’s book, for the price you might spend on a cup of coffee or a few, pitching in between $1 or $10 a month to MSW (if there’s enough of you) could mean all the people that write articles for the site (lots of people), the person that add the events to the site (that’s me), send out that weekly email (also me), record & master the Audacious CDs (Mandy and Jacky), film, edit and upload those videos (me, but sometimes people help out), and work behind the scenes to keep it running (me, Sam, Amanda, Arielle, Anthony, Kendra – it changes up), well they can keep doing that and pay rent and eat food and live and other stuff.

To be honest, we’re not even sure it will work. We think it’s worth a shot. We think it’s worth trying in the meantime whilst we work on other things. We hate asking for money. We want to spend less time hustling for cash and more time making poetry and performing it and going to gigs and reading it and loving it and talking about it. We need to though. We need to do this to keep going.

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, activist and the Director of Melbourne Spoken Word. He grew up in Western Sydney before calling Melbourne home in 2008, where he's performed since 2010 around Melbourne's regular spoken word and poetry nights including Passionate Tongues, The Dan Poets, Voices in the Attic and House of Bricks as well as the NGV and White Night. He's released a chapbook, broken bodies, and two spoken word albums, Duel Power with Santo Cazzati and The World Doesn't Make Sense EP.
Benjamin Solah

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