This blog post is not meant as formal minutes, but more of a summary of what we all discussed. There were various questions around costs and timings about the pop up shop, and just to clarify we will be asking people to give time in the shop so that it stays open as much as possible. However, what you can do is barter! Several people came up to me afterwards and said I just don't have the time but would like to get involved so we have a plan (yes, a cunning plan!). Why not create a barter system with a friend? If you are a seller in the shop it would be really useful if people could give two days over the month somewhere BUT you can substitute someone to do your days. So, what if your friend is able to cover your days and in return you do some jobs for them or cooked them a meal or did some babysitting to help them out? This is the flexibility of a co-operative and the core values of supporting each other and helping remove the barriers each faces. For some the barrier is time, for others it might be transport, others might struggle leaving little ones but we're quite sure that with a conversation we can come up with a way around things. So, although your time contribution may not be openly obvious because your friend covers your days you will be doing something in return that supports them so everyone wins!
The other aspect that probably needs clearing up is that yes we were talking about taking on a building to house all the things we want to acheive. However, the important thing is that we will be a co-operative rather than concentrating on where we are based. Although we are negotiating a building at the moment things can change and if sadly this one doesn't come off we will change, adapt and look for something else. A really good point raised last night was the fact that now there are more of us interested in making it work that means that there will be even more of us looking for premises which can only make life easier. For us the important aspect is setting up the co-operative to allow us to expand and grow into somewhere, and once the legal structure exists it makes it a lot easier to explain to outsiders what we are all about.
Costs are always something that people want to know about, and yes there will be costs involved in becoming a member but hopefully the benefits of being involved will seem worth it. The benefits will include things like being included on the website and the magazine, national press coverage, access to shared facilities and more importantly access to a wider peer group so that everyone has the chance to build on and improve their own practice. We know that many artisans could become self employed if they just had access to equipment, insurance, support mechanisms, training or just somewhere to meet and chat with others and these are all things we want to provide and the things that got people interested which is great. Also, once we have all our legal bits of paper back we can issue applications for membership and submission to the pop up shop along with all the terms and conditions that obviously everyone needs to see before they can make a decision if it's the right thing for them to get involved with.
As a co-operative people will have the chance to become elected onto the Board of Directors and it was great that people were already considering this, as without a Board we have no shared ownership by the membership. We chose to become a multi stakholder co-operative to allow us the flexibility to work with lots of different people at differing levels such as artists, customers, educational groups, voluntary groups and pretty much anyone that comes and says hello to us!
There were some specific questions around the pop up shop such as costs, staffing and who can put work in. Deciding what goes in or doesn't go in is going to be tricky as everyone's taste is different but we will be concentrating on the quirky, the quality and original pieces. We don't intend to have too many of any one style of work as that just isn't fair on anyone but equally we want as many to have the experience as possible so some of the details may need to be dealt with in more detail once we know exactly which unit we are having and how big it is as that will determine a lot of the discussions. Also, we have been gathering email adddresses for those that are interested in selling in the shop and will speak to that group separately so that we can be clear with everyone about the whys and wherefores.
Quite sure there are other things discussed that I've forgotten but hopefully people get the gist of the evening, but the main thing to get across is how positive the discussions were. There are some things we don't know yet such as exactly which unit we will have but once we do we will share that information. Things like the Arts Council England bid are obviously still up in the air as with any bid, you never know for sure till you see a cheque but we are optimistic and even if plan A doesn't quite work with so many supportive and like minded coming together we're quite sure there will be a Plan B all the way through to Plan W! As always if you want to get in touch please email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on facebook and twitter and just keep in touch as we trundle on our rather exciting new venture with you all :)