In the last few years, a finance website named Kickstarter has been influential in getting art projects (tv, movies, literature, etc.) up and running. The site is focused on funding art level products. The process starts by the artist posting what they are looking to fundraise. After that is done, donors fund the project. The catch is that if the fundraising does not reach the target level set by the artist, it does not get funded.
The founders, Perry Chen, Yancy Strickler, and Charles Adler set up shop in 2009 and in 2012 distributed over $274 million to project creators. Donors do not receive money back. They receive their rewards through products or credit listings in movies and other odd ideas.
Be sure to check out the website and let all your artist friends know!