All of your Gamecock Mural questions answered right here
(or at least most of them).
In the fall we launched a crowdfunding campaign to paint South Carolina’s largest mural. It will be on the Cayce water tank beside the University of South Carolina’s new golf practice facility and the Par Tee Driving Range on the Cayce-West Columbia border.
Never having painted a water tank before and being uncertain of the unseen costs that may be involved, we decided to be safe and base our budget off of the higher estimate we received – $200,000. That may seem like a lot of money to paint a water tank, but the tank is huge, and the premium paint specified for this water tank runs from $350 to $400 a gallon (because it’s non-corrosive and doesn’t begin to fade for 15 years). Even painting a water tank basic white can easily cost over $100,000.
But that is the beauty of crowdfunding. Raising a larger amount of money doesn’t mean anyone has to give a larger amount. It just means MORE people need to be involved.
Donor levels for supporting a public work of art usually begin in the $1,000s, and that’s just not doable for most people. This project is different. To support this mural it costs $25. That’s it.
The idea behind Public Works of HeART is that you can divide up the cost of creating a public mural into small pieces, or “squares,” so anyone in the community can take part in helping fund the project. (video explaining process) To cover the original estimate for this mural, it would take 10,000 people funding a square for $20. That would raise the $200,000 we knew would safely cover all the costs. We could have made it 200 people giving a $1,000, or 2,000 people giving $100, but we wanted to keep the price very low in order for as many people as possible to take ownership in the project. We asked college students, who are notorious for running low on cash, how low the price of a square needed to be before the cost wouldn’t be an issue. Nine out of ten said $25.*
*(The tenth said two dollars. He obviously wasn’t an economics major.)
So we decided to make the cost of a square $25 and to donate the additional five bucks from each square to Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Emergency Food Pantry, which is just down the road from the tank. Harvest Hope Food Bank is an amazing organization – they can turn those five dollars into 25 meals. So not only does this project open up the opportunity to support public art in the community for an extremely low cost, but it also is going to provide 25 meals to families in need. And according to the staff at Harvest Hope Food Bank, most of the families they serve are just going through really tough periods and only need food for about three months. Harvest Hope really helps families get their feet back on the ground and can literally impact those people’s lives forever.
I believe most people would consider that $25 well spent.
The most ambitious part of the project was the initial November 1 deadline. Water tanks are supposed to be painted when they are empty to prevent condensation from affecting the high-dollar paint when it’s being applied. This water tank needed to be back online by January 1 because the new Nephron Pharmaceuticals facility was opening on January 1, and the City of Cayce needed to have the water available for that facility. Therefore, our artist, Eric Henn, needed to begin painting by mid-November. If we didn’t start by then, it would have to wait until the next time the tank could be taken offline – that could be six months, a year, or even later. We also thought it would be great to donate the money to Harvest Hope in time for Christmas. So that’s where we were: in order to safely crowdfund South Carolina’s largest mural by the end of the year, we needed 10,000 squares funded by November 1. Pretty ambitious, but we believed it was possible.
Then things quickly changed. For the better.
First, the Cayce Beautification Foundation partnered with us allowing us the option to give the money to them to pay the muralist directly, eliminating the legal fees that would be needed for us to draw up contracts, etc. They also approved to accept tax-deductible donations of $1,000 or more on behalf of the water tank mural. (Public Works of HeART is not a 501(c)(3); therefore, the $25 individual squares are not tax deductible. That was another practical reason to keep the per square price very low.) Then, because of the community-centric nature of the project, Eric Henn, the muralist, offered to reduce his fee and advised us on other cost-effective options – specifically a paint that was $20,000 less expensive than what was originally specified. Then someone offered to donate some of the materials for the public donor display. Then someone offered to donate the lift that the artist will use to paint the tank.
So, the amount needed to fund the project went from $200,000 to $96,000, and from 10,000 squares to 3,840. Obviously, great news! When we reached the original deadline a little more than half of the mural was funded.
What about the January 1 deadline?
Before January 1 the entire tank was painted white. Instead of a giant rusty eyesore, it’s now South Carolina’s largest canvas. We met with the City of Cayce utility department, and they gave us great news. Their backup pumps were working better than expected and the Nephron facility was using much less water than originally expected. That meant that they could schedule to take the tank back offline whenever the crowdfunding for the mural was complete. More great news!
Knowing the end of the year deadline was no longer an issue, we took a break during the holidays and winter to reorganize. We got feedback from many of the mural supporters who bought squares in the fall. We completely redesigned the website to provide much more information about the project. One of the biggest improvements is that you can now see how many squares are left on each side. And you can choose which side of the mural you want your square on – Steve Spurrier’s side, Darius Rucker’s side or on the Giant Golf Ball top.
Why the Head Ball Coach and Darius?
When given the opportunity to design a mural that celebrates the state of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina and the game of golf, there were two people that immediately came to mind, and you can guess who they are. The original design had the silhouettes of generic golfers on it, but we thought that was a missed opportunity to make the mural more personal and celebrate two people who are torchbearers for South Carolina and diehard golfers. So, we actually incorporated Coach Spurrier and Darius into the design before we even asked if it was okay with them.
When we did reach out, they both thought it was great and gave us the green light to let everyone know. I used to play football for South Carolina, but I’ve never been a country music star – that being said, it was a lot easier to get in touch with Coach Spurrier than Darius Rucker, who has been Wagon Wheel’n all over the country lately. We didn’t hear back from him until late in the game – that’s why we didn’t announce it until a few days before the original deadline. As of the writing of this update, Spurrier is beating Darius by two squares. Each of them have about 700 squares left. I’m curious to see which side sells out first. Maybe we can get them to place a wager on it. Somebody tweet Darius and egg him on!
So, now we’re ready to launch the second phase of the campaign: to crowd-fund South Carolina’s largest mural we need 1,893 more squares funded. We’re shooting to have it funded before it gets too hot to paint. And you know how quickly that comes.
So what do I do?
The best thing you can do is fund a square. That’s five more square feet of the mural funded and 25 more meals going to local families. After you buy a square, it’s just as important to share it. This project only works if you share it with others. There is no advertising budget. You are how others find out about the project. Share our posts on Facebook and Twitter, so your friends can share them with their friends. Maybe even more importantly, talk to other people about the project. Tell them why you support the project. There are many people just finding out about the Gamecock Mural for the first time. We’re more than half way there. 1,893 really isn’t that many people if everyone encourages one more person to join in.
We’ve had people fund squares not only from across the state, but from all over the country: New York, Nebraska, Texas, California, and a lot more. And we’ve received amazing emails like this:
“My Father lost his battle to cancer last year and I wanted to contribute to good community works in memory of him. He always taught us to help others in need. He loved playing golf and a taught my brother and I how to play as kids. He loved South Carolina and took our family on vacation here many, many times. This project perfectly packaged all three of these things together and the mural will be a great way for me to remember him by. I cannot thank you enough for putting this together!!”
Being able to be of part of this project has been an honor for me, and it celebrates the ability to do something good as an extended community. Whether you want to beautify your community, celebrate the Gamecocks, or be a part of supporting Harvest Hope Food Bank, let’s get the rest of these squares funded, bring South Carolina’s largest mural to the Midlands and help some families out too.
Let me know if you have any questions at all.
–Will Bryan | Founder