Kickstarter’s Social Backlash

For aspiring artists, crowdfunding sites that raise cash from the masses can make a dream project come true. For contributors like Annabelle Gurwitch, they’re a potential minefield.

The Los Angeles actress and comedian is worried she’ll create personal or professional bad blood if she ignores the constant requests for money. So she funds nearly every one she gets — from a show by a director friend (she might want a role one day) to a Web series by a fellow actress (they shared a dressing room at the time). An old classmate she hadn’t seen in 30 years asked her for “quite a bit of money” while another campaigner complained that she didn’t offer enough. Ms. Gurwitch, who gives up to $1,000 a year, considers this the art-world equivalent of paying protection money to the mob. “I’m terrified not to contribute,” she says.

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