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AP126 - MMM Introduction (Feature 17 Jul 06)

AP126 - MMM Introduction (Feature 17 Jul 06)

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This is one of a series of features for Arts Professional in 2006/07. In this piece MMM founders Clare Cooper and Roanne Dods introduce MMM and what issues it is looking to explore.
This is one of a series of features for Arts Professional in 2006/07. In this piece MMM founders Clare Cooper and Roanne Dods introduce MMM and what issues it is looking to explore.

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Published by: Mission Models Money on May 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/19/2010

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M
ission, Models, Money (MMM) is a nationalaction research programme and campaignfor change that aims to engage the leadersand funders of the not-for-profit arts and culturalsector to address the challenges of developingmission-led, financially and organisationallysustainable businesses. The campaign is motivatedboth by frustration and passion. The frustration iswith the seeming intractability of a leitmotif of issues that appear to dwell at the heart of many artsand cultural organisations – issues that replicatethemselves in crisis after crisis. And the passion is tocatalyse debate about issues of organisational andfinancial sustainability, leading to changes in mind-set, approach and working practices in arts andcultural organisations, and the infrastructure thatsupports them. These changes have the potential torelease ever greater creative and artistic activity.MMM is also driven by a vision to ensure that artisticand cultural endeavour thrives in the UK at a time of accelerating social, demographic, technological andeconomic change.
History and development
MMM started as a conversation between ClareCooper, then at Arts & Business, and Roanne Dods,Director of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, inthe autumn of 2003. Now in a third phase of delivery,it has already made its mark.The first MMM conference, MMM1, was held in June 2004. Its aim was to sharpen the quality of debate about mission, models and money and toencourage a more honest conversation in the arts –one that recognises weaknesses and that accepts aneed to adopt new methods of operation. Unlikesimilar events, which often conclude that thesolution can principally be found in increased publicfunding for the arts, delegates recognised that artsand cultural organisations need to collaborate andwork on solutions themselves.MMM1, and the period immediately following,resulted in participants agreeing on key issues andpriority areas for action that could usefully form aprogramme of further work. Issues were clusteredaround three themes:Deepening our understanding of the changingenvironment and its implicationsDeveloping financial sustainabilityDeveloping organisational capacityEight teams were assembled, comprisingmembers of an Action Group – all leadingpractitioners in the field – supported by fellowsfrom the new Clore Leadership Programme. Eachteam was charged with researching one key issue.Research findings formed the core content of thesecond MMM conference, MMM2, which was held inFebruary 2005. The outcome of this was twofold –an improved understanding of the challenges andopportunities facing the sector and a mandate forfurther action-based research which has resulted inthe current third phase.
The 21st century challenge
The proposition underlying MMM’s activities isneatly summed up in a Provocation Paper written byAdrian Ellis for MMM1:“The arts sector in the United Kingdom is over-extended and undercapitalised, with culturalorganisations trying to do more things than they canpossibly do well, with both human and financialresources too thinly spread… Additional resourcessecured by the sector are generally more likely toresult in further under-funded expansion – whetherof programmes or buildings – than in doing corethings better. Lacking liquidity or reserves, cashstrapped and thinly spread between ever morediverse, fragmented pools of funding, artsorganisations find it easier to secure the marginalcosts of marginal activities than the core costs of core activities. The result is a hyperactive sector thatresponds with Pavlovian urgency and enormousingenuity to the imperatives of funders but that has adecreasing capacity to hear, or at any rate listen to,the voice of mission.All of us in the sector know that these internalschisms are growing wider as we attempt to navigatea new landscape in which demand for the arts hasshifted in response to leisure time becoming morefragmented, populations growing more diverse, andcompetition from the burgeoning leisure industryintensifying.We need to be able to respond effectively tomany changes: distribution patterns and channelsstemming from emerging technology; organisationalecology that is blurring the distinction between thecommercial, non-profit and public sectors; publicand private funding patterns; and the very nature of public funding itself with all the signals of reducinglevels, juxtaposed with a prevailing attitude whichemphasises accountability and empirical justificationfor public support.
Responding to the challenge
The principal issues key to developing organisationaland financial sustainability have been identifiedduring the first two phases of MMM. Our workduring this third phase is to gather furtherunderstanding and insight into each of them:How could we, as a sector, better engage withthe changing demographic, technological andsocial environment?What can be done to improve the capabilitiesof arts organisations to develop both new and
Clare Cooper
and
Roanne Dods
Co-Directors of Mission,Models, Money
Over the next twelve months Mission, Models, Money is going to be working in partnership with ArtsProfessional todisseminate information emerging from its national action research programme and to stimulate sector-wide debateabout key issues.
Clare Cooper
and
Roanne Dods
explain the context.
Frustration, Passion, Vision, Mission
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17 July 2006 editors@artsprofessional.co.uk
It is time to move ourselves away from short-term obsessional behaviour around moneyand on to longer term vision around purpose.New models to make money follow mission!
Dawn Austwick OBE, Director, EsméeFairbairn Foundation and MMM ActionGroup member
“Perhaps we have been more radical insearching for new art forms and new art thanwe have in finding new ways of managing thearts. If so, we need now to learn from thebest art… and change arts management asradically as we have changed art itself.”
Ruth Mackenzie, General Director,Manchester International Festival andMMM Action Group member
The arts sector urgently needs transforming –not the snail-paced professionalisation of adysfunctional system that we are currentlywitnessing. (from ‘The Art of Dying’provocation paper commissioned for MMM2)
 John Knell, Founder, Intelligence Agency
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