How does it work? You describe your project at Kickstarter [Link], and the budget, and people can contribute anything from $1 on up to your project. You have 90 days for the stated sum to be reached, and if it is not, you get nothing. About 45% of the projects meet their goal.
The site was founded by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler in 2009 with the aim of cutting out middlemen/agencies and bring artists and those willing to find them together.
The artists keep their patrons updated as to the progress of their project and give them a chance to see their dollars at work.
In 2010 Kickstarter got $27.6 million pledged.
3,910 projects were funded.
386,373 people pledged money.
8m total visitors
And, don't forget: Kickstarter works both ways. For the price of a Happy Meal you can become a patron of the arts on a small but significant scale.