Passing the hat for art

Ellen Snortland

Ellen Snortland

Ellen Snortland works to bring her one-woman show “Now That She’s Gone” to Scotland

By Ellen Snortland

My Norwegian-American community has already done so much for my solo show, “Now That She’s Gone.” Without the initial support of Rolf Stang, Pastor and Mrs. Rodahl, the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Manhattan, editors at the Norwegian American Weekly, writers, and readers, hundreds of people would never have seen my human rights love letter to my late mother, Barbrø Snortland. Now here I am again, proverbial hat in hand, in order to take “Now That She’s Gone” in August to the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland!

“Passing the hat” for artists is a custom as old as, well, ART, especially the performing arts. Now passing the hat has gone global with an internet phenomenon called “crowd-sourced funding platforms.” If you’re like me and your eyes cross when confronted with new technology, hang in there because crowd-sourced funding is a breakthrough for artists and creative types who need help. The basic concept is, excuse the expression, “old hat,” and once you learn about it, you’ll be able to use it with other artists. There are 3 easy steps to follow in order to pledge anywhere from $1 to $25,000… or any amount in between!

I’ve registered with, one of the biggest crowd-sourced funding platforms currently active on the internet. The cost of taking my Norwegian-American themed solo show, “Now That She’s Gone,” to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is personally and professionally prohibitive. Without even accounting for daily expenses or artists’ fees for myself and my stage manager husband, Ken Gruberman, it’ll cost over $25,000 for shipping, housing, promotion, venue fees and marketing for a month at the festival. Rather than say “no,” my friend suggested I “pass the hat” on

I’m not looking for cash right now; I’m looking for pledges that only pay if and when I raise the full amount I said I’d raise, which is $25,000 by April 25. Let’s say you pledge $100 toward our dream; if I don’t raise the full amount by my goal date, you don’t pay a dime. If I do raise the amount in pledges by my goal date, then the $100 you pledged will be paid out and you’ll get the reward I’ve designed for the pledge level you made.

Wanna play?

  1. Go to and sign in or register as a new user: it’s free!
  2. Enter “Snortland” into the search field at the top of the page and hit the return key. When you see “ ‘Now That She’s Gone’ to Edinburgh!” in blue, click on it.
  3. Scroll down the right side of the page and find your appropriate pledge amount. If you only have a dollar to spare, I’ll take it! If you can spare $1,000, that’d help me a lot.

I will post updates with you to let you know how things are going as we enter the final stretch. I also invite you to ask others to “pass the hat.”

Thank you in advance for your support. I so hope you “invest” in taking a little bit of our culture into the largest and oldest theater festival in the world.

To learn more about Ellen Snortland, visit

This article was originally published in the March 25, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.