The Black Islands – Spirit and War in Melanesia

Crowd-funding a Pacific Project

One of the effective ways in which the egalitarian potential of the internet is being harnessed is crowd-funding. While the gathering and redistribution of money by governments is essential to the functioning of society, it has proved an imperfect way in which to ensure a rich flow of culturally diverse creativity and information. Crowd-funding offers an additional and complementary funding mechanism. It circumvents the usual elite mechanisms that underwrite so many cultural projects by asking the many for a little, rather than the gatekeepers for a lot.

An interesting and worthy project currently seeking such support is a book planned by the photographer and writer Ben Bohane. Ben has dedicated almost twenty years to documenting life in Melanesia, the archipelago of Pacific islands east of Indonesia and north-east of Australia. While the region may be sketchily understood by much of the world as a collection of idyllic tropical islands, the reality is that Melanesia is a dynamic, often turbulent, mix of ancient and modern religious cults, ‘kastom’ and conflict, and increasing economic exploitation.

We live in a century in which the world’s focus is shifting from the Euro-American Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific. While the emphasis is firmly on the Pacific rim, the thousands of islands scattered across our largest ocean hold considerable strategic importance for the superpowers of both East and West. Understanding the realities and complexities of this region is an important part of recognising the true nature of the global changes underway, and the challenges and opportunities they bring.

Ben Bohane wants to publish his most important images and writing in a book: The Black Islands – Spirit and War in Melanesia. To achieve this he needs to raise the relatively modest sum of $15,000 and is seeking to do this via the crowd-funding site *

He explains more about the project in this video:



You can read more about crowd-funding The Black Islands – Spirit and War in Melanesia here…


A Bit More on Crowd-funding…

Following a couple of questions on FaceBook, here is a bit more about crowd-funding sites.

While I mentioned as the particular example in the above post, there are, of course, other crowd-funding sites suited to artists and photographers.

As always, it is wise to check out the small print and choose carefully. Generally you should use one site at a time and not try a scatter-gun approach. The reason is that a number of crowd-funding sites do not take the money pledged (and so pass it on to the fundraiser) unless the target is reached within an allotted time. This protects donors from paying out for a project that cannot proceed because insufficient funds were raised. If that is the case with any one or more sites used concurrently, then spreading the donations would actively reduce the chance of success by dividing the field.

So, here are a few crowdfunding and related sites:

ArtistShare – focused on musicians, it has its own record label – helps photojournalists find funding outside of the mainstream publishing world for a project or book

Fans Next Door – includes visual arts and books

IndieGoGo – a big international site for a wide range of project types

Kickstarter – is for creative projects and is considered to have a high success rate

PledgeMusic – is also for musicians

Pozible – creative projects by artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, designers etc; Australian-based, but open to anyone

RocketHub – an international and open community that helps artists, scientists and entrepreneurs crowd-source money

Sellaband – is also for musicians

UnitedLeap – general crowdfunding site that uses your social networks

Weeve – is for individuals and not-for-profit organisations working for positive social change

Sites in red are ‘all or nothing” – if you do not make the target within the allotted time then you receive nothing.
Sites in blue are ‘Keep it all” – you keep whatever is raised.
Sites in green offer flexible arrangements that can be either of the above.


Photograph and video © Ben Bohane


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  • The majority of the texts on this site are by Alasdair Foster and represent his opinions. However, in order to facilitate a useful diversity of views, some texts have been invited from artists and colleagues around the world, while others appear as independent comments. These opinions and comments are not necessarily those of Alasdair Foster or Cultural Development Consulting (CDC). All data and information on this site is provided on an as-is basis. While every effort is made to be as thorough as possible, neither Alasdair Foster nor CDC make representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.
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