Polly Heffer, archaeology graduate and DigVentures intern, describes why crowd-funding is a new and exciting future for archaeology – and how DigVentures is leading the way…
A new way to fund archaeology is here. Crowd-funding is a way to put power in the hands of the public: you choose who and what you want to invest your time and money with, and those projects get the funding and backing they need to move forward.
Crowd-funding is an innovative concept that allows people to be creative, and provides an opportunity to build like-minded communities. It centers on the idea of a combined group of people who fund and support an organisation. There are four main types of crowd-funding equity (when you get given shares for your input), donation (where you give to a charitable organisation), lending (when you get your investment back after a period of time) and reward (where you get given a service or product in return for your money).
Is Funding the Future?
Funding projects in this way means that organisations can connect directly with the people who enjoy their products. It has proved successful for many different companies in a huge range of sectors. Now, crowd-funding is being applied to archaeology. DigVentures is a community of archaeologists and archaeology enthusiasts that have joined together to fund some really amazing and important archaeological digs, here in the UK. They work alongside teams of experts to excavate archaeology as well as create sustainable plans for the future heritage of the sites.
DigVentures is a crowd-funded and crowd-sourced company. This means the public not only funds these projects; they are also the ones who dig them. It is a chance for everyone who has ever thought themselves a secret Indiana Jones, to be able to learn how to dig and get involved; with the help of experts in the field. For DigVentures, the Venturers are part of the DNA. They follow all the work being done onsite by watching online, they talk to each other on the website and of course – come to the parties! It’s a worldwide community with a love of archaeology at its heart.
Last year, DigVentures completed the first ever crowd-funded and crowd-sourced archaeological project in the world, at Flag Fen, an internationally important Bronze Age site outside Peterborough. It was a huge success. The sun shone, the trenches were dug and a lot of vital archaeology was recorded (rounded off by some great parties!). They managed to bring in over 250 Venturers from 11 different countries all round the world and increase visitors to the heritage attraction by over 30%.
This year, their summer dig will be at Leiston Abbey, in Suffolk. Leiston Abbey is a stunning 14th century ruined abbey, which has never had a full programme of archaeological work done on it. This project is a chance to get to grips with site archaeology from the very beginnings, including geophysical surveys and test trenches.
Nestled amongst the ruins is Pro Corda, an educational charity and one of Europe’s leading music organisations for young people. They would love to see the archaeology incorporated into the artistic life of the school, as well as raising the profile of Leiston Abbey as a heritage attraction. DigVentures is giving the whole local community a chance to learn more about its past as well as developing a sustainable five year plan for its future.
If you have always been tempted to try archaeology and want to join a friendly community that does groundbreaking work, then why not support DigVentures? It’s archaeology… in YOUR hands.
Have you taken part in a Dig Ventures project? Tell us about your experiences in the comments box below!