"It’s easier to talk about our values than it is to try and value the work we do in the language of money."
Tom Ryalls, CPT's Development Manager, introduces our new democratic membership bodies and the importance of the People in People's Theatre.
There are huge changes happening in arts funding right now. Changes to our economics are stoking a culture war at the centre of arts funding, and I think a big test is in how organisations, artists and workers choose to respond to that.
At Camden People’s Theatre we’ve always had a donation and membership scheme, though to be honest it could have been more successful. We set ourselves the challenge of revamping the programme. Most of us find it slightly awkward to talk about money, and fundraising is only really successful if everyone in the organisation feels like it’s something they can own, so we looked at what we do talk about well.
We’re a People’s Theatre, we’ve always said that it is about democracy, and we’re getting pretty good at talking about that. So, we decided to try and talk about fundraising using that language, the language of democratising.
It’s easier to talk about our values than it is to try and value the work we do in the language of money.
We worked with our whole team over this year and this is what we’ve come up with - three democratic bodies.
We want to recognise the hundreds of people every year that donate with their ticket, or make a one-off donation. These are our citizens, part of the CPT family and there’s a regular mailing list to make sure they understand the impact that their support has.
The CPT Assembly is the group of people who support us with a regular monthly amount, and all of the members get the same benefits of bar discount and a badge. You don’t get more because you can afford to give more. Every one of our assembly members gets the same benefits, and you can give any amount monthly. The thing you do get is a vote. Every year we’ll bring the Assembly together to vote on an artist in our season to receive a bursary. That bursary grows the more members we have, so your support has a direct impact onthe artists we support.
This is a group of people who support our fundraising with their expertise, knowledge and networks. They also might be our advocates, though they’re specifically not trustees, so no regular meetings take place. This is something we’re in the process of building. We don’t promote it on our website, but we want to be honest that it’s something that exists.
This is also not the end of democratisation: in our attempts to support our artists in future, we’re exploring how we can diversify their income by helping them build legal structures that can make them eligible for more funds. This is obviously work artists should not have to do, but it is rapidly becoming part of artist development. If you want to support us to do this, please get in touch.
You can find more info about how to support us here, if you’d like to: cptheatre.co.uk/Camden-Peoples-Theatre/Support-Us
If I could leave you with anything it’s that our response to what’s happening right now, is to ensure democracy, our artists and our community remain at the heart of what we do. That means it’s your support that’s important, not how much you are able to give.