In case you haven’t noticed, our shrimp trawlers are disappearing. They are those wooden boats with the rigging floating out behind, a sea of gulls trailing them as they power out to sea, trawling for white and brown shrimp.
It’s getting harder and harder for shrimpers to make a living because they face increasing insurance and gas costs, repairs, regulations and competition from foreign imported shrimp.
What was once a respected way of life on the water is slowly dying, and with it will go one of the icons of Lowcountry life.
That’s why Florida photographer John Adams has taken on the project of documenting the trawlers in his project, “Evanescent Trawlers of the South.” And he’s funding it in a unusual way: He has turned to Kickstarter on the Internet for help with raising money. He is seeking support from communities all along his route, and he’s looking for only modest sums.
The way that Kickstarter.com works is that artists have a set number of days to raise all the funds, or their project receives nothing. The projects are generally ones with a specific goal in mind, like the e-book that Adams plans, and an exhibit. These are not projects that require a great deal of money, nor are they ones that can fund, say, a new camera or someone’s lifestyle.
Adams is trying to raise $1,950, and that money goes to his travel budget as he photographs shrimp boats from South Carolina to Florida and Texas. His project has a 30-day fundraising window from start to finish, and if the money is not raised by March 31, he receives nothing.
The other great thing about Kickstarter is that Amazon is a partner in this, allowing for donations from around the world. Since Kickstarter began in 2009, more than $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects.
Artists these days have to be more creative in finding funds since grant money has dried up for all but the most established artists. This is the equivalent of asking total strangers for a little bit of money — pledges can be as small as $1 — and seeing the project go through to completion.
It takes money to create art, for travel, for supplies, for production of the work.
In Adams’ case, he is close to completion. He had about 75 percent of the money as of Monday with only a few days to go.
What I like about this type of project is that we need to document the way of life with the shrimp trawlers before they disappear. At some point, shrimping may not be economically feasible, and few new boats are being built.
All you have to do is ask any of the local Magwood shrimping clan to hear a tale of stress on a way of life that has been producing great seafood for about 100 years.
Kickstarter is a way for more artists and creative types to do important work, and the burden and risk of fundraising is spread across many people.
Adam’s project includes traveling more than 4,400 miles from the Carolinas to Louisiana to try to capture and preserve images of as many of the remaining wooden trawlers as possible this summer. He expects to process the final prints and book before the end of the August.
Harnessing the Internet is a way of financing small projects that more local artists could use to help document other areas of our Lowcountry life. All it takes is a good idea.
To learn more about the project, readers can visit the project’s page at http://kck.st/Y470rh.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5557.