Nina glanced at the file under my arm “Building Resilience” and then looked at me with pity in her eyes, assuming I was undergoing that familiar mid-life crisis in which artists retreat from a life of creating ephemeral whimsy and retrain as structural engineers. Untrue, I was at Piccadilly Station retreating from two days thinking how we can build the resilience of Stan’s Cafe to insure that if the roof falls in, the roof won’t fall in. Essentially the challenge put to us was whether we could ensure that if one of our five main sources of income dried up, we wouldn’t have to turn the lights out and perform theatre in the dark.
Back in 2010 Michael Kaiser introduced his theory of The Cycle to a post-crash audience of shell-shocked local arty types. His theory was and remains disarmingly simple – it runs something like this: make amazing art, market this and you like crazy, use the art and marketing to build a ‘family’ who love you and your art, then monetize this love. Us this love money to invest back into making more great art and so a virtuous cycle rolls on.
We had these principles in mind back in November 2016 when we launched our Scheming Friends initiative. An anniversary party was partly an excuse to gather a large group of loving ‘family’ together, once gathered we used Graeme Rose smashing an 25 Anniversary Cake to smithereens with a cricket bat as the cue to ask people to support us ‘make more of the different’.
We’d rejected all traditional ‘transactional’ Membership Schemes in which donating x gives you y and donating 2x gives you y+z and donating 3x gives you w+y+z. Scheming Friends demonstrate friendship by donating an unspecified amount of money and in return receive occasional unadvertised tokens of friendship in return.
You may have noticed the discreet bright red – support us – tab at the top of every page on this website – that is standing in for Graeme, the cake and the cricket bat.
If you click on the fatal red tab now be warned there is a chance you’ll feel compelled to donate to us, but don’t be too scared as, post-training, I see that we have fallen into that foolish error of quoting numbers to substantiate our claim to be saving the world by quoting empirical evidence such as the number of young people engaged in schools in the city‘s less affluent wards in 2015/16. It was 4,000, is that impressive who knows? How engaged were they? Were they engaged in worthwhile activity or flicking rolled up bits of paper at us while we talked at them?
Darn it, time to set to work on the 2.1 version of that page. If you’re curious I’d click now before it’s truly persuasive.