Contribution to the Node-London Reader
Coordinated by Cinzia Cremona
For Disclosures, Critical Practice convened a ResourceCamp on Sunday, 30th March 2008. The ResourceCamp addressed what we consider the 'elephant in the room' of open organizations - money. Or more specifically money and its 'open' management.
Critical Practice is an 'open organization', though we prefer the term 'self-organised cluster'. We use Open-Organisations.org guidelines for our organization, because we recognise - after Theodor Adorno - that indeed, all art is organised and managed. Being sensitive to how we manage ourselves is an important part of our 'critical practice'. The pragmatic character of open-organizations guidelines makes them really useful for structuring our activities. Borne of participation and analysis of previous open organizations like Indymedia, they stress process, functionality and accountability. Yet to our knowledge, none of the online guidelines or documents mentions or addresses how to value and manage money or more generally resources.
BarCamps, from which the ResourceCamp took its inspiration for Disclosures, are an international network of self organised, user generated unconferences — open, participatory workshop-events — often related to open source methods, social protocols, and open data formats. Sessions are proposed and scheduled among attendees. Everyone is encouraged to contribute by dividing their time equally between presentation and questions, observations and exchange. Anyone can initiate a BarCamp using the BarCamp wiki for guidance.
In the last year Critical Practice has engaged and struggled with questions of value, money and economies of resources. Perhaps, these themes are what we have in common with most art organizations, NGOs and self-organised groups – organizations that function in mixed economies of funds, fees, volunteers, generosity, grants, etc. We do not have, and would never have, enough money to pay people proportionately to their participation. And much of what we value - creativity, conviviality, knowledge, experience, etc. - is difficult to quantify and reimburse.
To address this situation, Critical Practice convened the ResourceCamp as the first step in drafting guidelines for open resource management. Contributors included Kuba, Neil, Corrado and Marsha, Peter, Anna, Cinzia, Trevor, Ian, Eileen & Ben, Jem, and Marcel. Video documentation of their presentations is available Swarm TV. Beyond our stated goal – drafting Open Budget Guidelines – we engaged in peer-led, practice-based research; a process that expanded our shared knowledge and engaged other people and presentations within Disclosures. Peter, Anna, Eileen, Ben and Marcel offered useful and often provocative insights that challenged our emergent approach to resource management.
Below is the notational flip-chart transcript kept by Michaela during the ResourceCamp
These notes were made during the ResourceCamp. They are a sketch of the presentations and responses from participants, without discriminating between different types of contributions.
Kuba - HOW TO DIVIDE A CAKE?
Economy as a cake with 4 layers (from Hazel Henderson):
1 & 2 are concerned with individuals
What are the Art World applications of this theory?
Without social/emotional investment – the top 2 layers can’t exist
Flat hierarchies based on goodwill
Can generosity be reimbursed?
The accountability of desire
Transparency as a principle – how does it function in practice?
It’s not generosity but commitment
It’s different to be a ‘me’ for ‘me’, rather than a ‘you’ for ‘them’
Peter -TRANSITIONAL PRACTICE
The co-operative – ‘To each according to their need…’
Points of friction are potentially points of change
Cinzia - THE PERSONAL IS ECONOMICAL
What is the nature of a resource?
1: Transparency/Accountability – Is it possible?
Do we need to know everything in order to trust?
1. Materialistic (Money/Time)
Self-actualisation – we can’t begin to measure this
- Each project should be considered in its own right
Trevor - THE COST OF OPPORTUNITY
Value is a sacrifice one is prepared to make
- One uses of time over another
Why do we use models of scarcity to manage abundance?
Ben and Eileen - OPEN MUSIC ARCHIVE – THE BUDGET
A resource for future use:
60% pressing record – 500 discs
No-one was paid
Emphasis on performativity
Jem - THINK OF A NUMBER – PRINCIPLES OF OPEN BUDGET MANAGEMENT
How does a group choose a number?
Consider each case Flexibility Aims/Desire Priorities (tasks) Monetary strategy and other implicated transactions
Marcel - EXPLOITATION
Good to measure exploitation
Make justice where it doesn’t exist.
Draft Budget Guidelines
These guidelines were extracted from the ResourceCamp, expanded, condensed and evolve online at Draft Budget Guidelines
Oscar Wilde, in Lady Windermere's Fan has Lady Windermere say "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."
This is a draft set of guidelines for individuals and organizations trying to practice in an 'open' way. They are explicitly intended to facilitate the open, transparent and accountable management of financial resources, although they inevitably mesh with human, social, intellectual and material resources too. The guidelines are an open and ongoing project.
At all times, but especially at the beginning of a project, try to be clear about your specific aims and time-frame.
The more complicated resource management is, the less likely it is to be well managed.
The resource management process should be flexible; resources and needs will change, frequent reviews are helpful.
1. Organize resource allocation around clearly articulated tasks, services, needs, specific people, goods or projects - bearing in mind these are subject to continual review.
2. For each project: a) Estimate/allocate the appropriate resources b) Estimate/record all the incomes (investments) c) Estimate/record all the expenditure d) Total your income and expenditures e) Review f) Make adjustments as necessary
3. Invest for future gain, and try and build resources for others.
4. Respect and evaluate different forms of income and expenditure - obviously nothing is 'free'. And perhaps think of a 'total audit' of personal (and collective) intellectual and emotional investment, time, energy, materials and space that make a project possible - the opportunity costs.
5. Appointing a resource coordinator is useful.
6. Be transparent with the available financial resources; publish the financial resources (e.g. on a wiki), and clearly describe the process by which participants can access the funds - ie through the resource coordinator.
7. Be clear who has permission to act, and who is empowered to make decisions - rough consensus is good. Try to avoid the 'Big Other' of hidden power and responsibility.
8. Ensure flows of accrued capital are distributed equitably.
9. Public transparency should guard against misuse and corruption.
10. Consider each case for funding, or demand upon resources, in their own right. Precedents, although useful can be deceptive.
11. Use resource management as a plan for future action.
12. Use points of friction as opportunities for reflection and change - changes in practice and to the guidelines themselves.
13. Take responsibility, and do not look to apportion blame for the mistakes of others, especially the 'Big Other' or the resource coordinator.
14. There is no intrinsic value, so be sensitive to the sacrifice - the opportunity cost - implicit in one choice over another.