Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Who wants to be in charge?

Here’s an interesting example of what no-one in the real world calls participatory decision-making or 'peer involvement'. Tennent’s, the lager company which sponsors a number of music events in Scotland, have created The Tennent’s Mutual. This gives control of programming, ticket prices, even format of gigs over to the public – or those music fans who want to become members of The Tennent’s Mutual. Founding members of The Mutual will select artists, debate locations for gigs and call the shots on ticket prices by interacting as a community and voting for their preferences online. Tennent’s have started it off with a fund of £150,000, and recruited a number of expert advisors to share their views but not make decisions. Any profits will be reinvested in future gigs or festivals.

Although it’s early days, the Vote and Forum and sections show how people are reacting to the chance to influence things. Even where the bank account went was voted upon by members. It will be interesting to see how the programme differs from the norm – and whether this kind of involvement guarantees big audiences.

Anyone aware of other arts organisations devoting even part of their programming budgets to this kind of public involvement? And how might this model be used by public funders of the arts – be it Arts Council or, say, local authorities? (Who are increasingly taking parallel approaches for local decisions such as street furniture, repairs and so on.)

I came across this model in Trendwatching’s latest briefing – ‘41 new business ideas to copy or be inspired by’. Well worth a look, for entertainment value if nothing else.

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