Pioneering Use of NFT Artwork to Fund Live Theatre
Fungible – from non-fungible token – derives from the Latin verb fungi, meaning ‘to perform’. Could NFTs be the most appropriate form of theatre financing to date?
- Graham & Townley Productions are launching The Viking NFT, a series of digital artworks, to fund Blodlina, a new musical premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
- Sales of these NFTs will directly fund the theatrical production and the success of the production will increase the value of the NFT.
- Much like conventional theatre angels, the community of NFT holders will be associated with the show throughout its developmental journey. NFT holders will also be offered exclusive benefits only possible through the purchase of an NFT.
- Theatre funding, both public and private, is in crisis. Could this innovative NFT project provide a creative solution to this financial storm?
Live theatre is facing a perilous future. Since the 2008 financial crash, it has been increasingly difficult to secure funding. The Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem – illustrated by the recent closure of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella in London’s West End.
Whilst theatre funding is in crisis, sales of NFTs are booming. However, NFT investors are increasingly looking for projects with real-world applications and utility (additional benefits). Graham & Townley Productions have created The Viking NFT as a new model of theatre investment, democratising funding and forging a new relationship between theatre and investors.
Acclaimed digital artist Lawrence Mann has created The Viking NFT artworks, a series of 200 Viking swords based on meticulous historical research.
Theatre is a risky investment, particularly new works by new writers. The Viking NFT offers an alternative way of financing a show. The value of the NFT is not solely dependent on the financial success of the show. It has value as:
- a beautifully crafted stand-alone artwork
- a token conferring membership of the Viking NFT community and the associated community benefits. e.g. inside access, exclusive previews, interaction with the creative team
- access to digital benefits such as additional NFT drops and priority access to associated projects.
- An asset associated with the founding of the production. Should the show experience great success – the limited edition NFT will increase in value.
- An affordable entry point to financing theatre.
Critically, this NFT funding model allows the core creative team to retain ownership of the show.
Notes to Editor
Name of NFT:
The Viking NFT Blodlina Sword Series
Graham and Townley Productions
The new musical that NFT is to fund
Example NFT Sword
Golden Sword with very rare, shattered blade.
The series consists of 10 gold, 20 silver, 50 bronze and 120 iron swords. Each sword is an exclusive combination of blade, guard, grip and pommel and is identified by its unique code written in Norse Rune. All swords will cost the same; buyers won’t know in advance which one they will receive as they are allocated randomly.
The Viking NFT – Utility
It is rare for an NFT project to aspire to have such tangible, real-world, outcomes as The Viking NFT. Graham & Townley Productions’ vision for The Viking NFT is simple.
- Graham & Townley Productions has developed a unique series of high-quality limited-edition NFT artworks associated with the new theatre production – Blodlina – currently in development. The first set of NFTs will be limited to just 200 artworks.
- NFT Artworks are sold generating finance. The first NFT sale is scheduled for Summer 2022. The initial cost of each NFT in the first drop is estimated to be an accessible £200-300.
- Graham & Townley Productions funnels the finance generated by the initial NFT sale and subsequent royalty payments into the development and production of Blodlina.
- The community of NFT holders are offered exclusive benefits and priority access to events and future
- When the NFT funded production opens and performances begin, the show’s positive reception increases the value and desirability of the associated NFT. Each NFT holder can choose to sell their NFT for a profit (e.g. on Opensea, the largest NFT market place) or continue to hold the NFT as an asset and artwork.
Democratisation on Theatre Investment and Funding
Traditionally, theatre has relied on public sector grants, private funding (e.g. high-net-worth individuals, often known as Theatre Angels) and charitable donations. These traditional sources of finance are unlikely to yield the amount needed for theatre to self-sustain. Rather than focusing on raising funds from a small number of institutional or wealthy investors, an NFT sale gives more people, who would not normally be able to, the opportunity to invest in the development of new theatre.
Artists Retaining Ownership
While theatre investment usually consists of the creative team selling ownership packages of the production to investors, raising funds through the NFT offers a different model that is mutually beneficial for NFT investors and the creative team alike. The NFT is a separate entity to the theatrical production and has independent value as a standalone artwork. To some degree this mitigates the risks for investors associated with traditional forms of theatre funding.
The Viking NFT will enable the Blodlina creative team to raise funds for the production without diluting their ownership. The Viking NFT buyers can hold the NFT as an asset separate to (but associated with) the production. The value of the NFT is linked to the success of the theatrical production, but not dependent on it.
Graham & Townley Productions is trailblazing the use of NFT artwork as a way of raising finance for theatre. The success of The Viking NFT could kickstart the use of NFTs across the wider theatre industry. Perhaps, in the future, NFTs may be one of the primary mechanisms financing the production of live theatre.
What are NFTs?
An NFT is made up of a collection of digital data (the artwork) stored in a blockchain (such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Polygon) – a type of distributed ledger. Ownership of an NFT is recorded on the blockchain which is stored in each individual owner’s personal cryptocurrency wallet. NFT ownership is publicly verifiable in so far as it is possible to check which wallet is being used to store a particular part of the blockchain.
NFTs are a new form of art based on blockchain technology and only exploded into the public consciousness recently. In a relatively short period, NFTs have become something of a cultural phenomenon. It’s almost impossible to open a newspaper, scroll through Twitter, or meet a friend for a catch-up without the topic of NFTs coming up. Collectively we marvel at the dizzying prices commanded by some NFTs while struggling to understand the how – and why – anyone would pay so much for something completely intangible.
Like the wider cryptocurrency market, the NFT space can feel like a virtual wild west. Somewhere fortunes can be made and lost. A place where genuinely innovative and interesting new projects fight for oxygen among armies of shysters and snake-oil salesmen promoting their next “get rich quick” scheme.
What is undeniable is the huge – and growing – appetite for NFTs. Graham & Townley Productions has set out to test whether this appetite can be leveraged to create a new and sustainable source of funding for the theatre industry that also offers utility and practical benefits to NFT investors.