Sharing skills and resources is not just about altruism, it can unlock new sources of revenue for arts organisations. Benita Matofska shares five tips for getting started.
The ‘sharing economy’ is known most notably as a series of services and start-ups, like Airbnb, that enable peer-to-peer exchanges through technology. However, this is only the beginning. In its entirety and potential, the sharing economy puts collaboration at the heart of all aspects of social, environmental and economic life.
The sharing economy is an opportunity for organisations to turn costs into revenues, while making more efficient use of resources
It is an umbrella term that refers to a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.
Ourscreen is a brilliant example of how sharing resources and creation with members of the public can build new audiences. Born out of Picturehouse cinemas, Ourscreen now operates as its own individual platform. Cinemas offer specific time slots for people to create their own screenings. The audience chooses the film and promotes it, and if enough people book tickets it goes ahead.
The films are shown at times when the cinemas would otherwise be empty so the screenings generate income from unused space. They increase footfall and attract diverse audiences because they’re promoted beyond the usual network of the cinema. They also increase engagement because people are given the power to shape their own experiences.
Audiences are no longer content with being passive observers. They want and expect to be part of the development and creation of events and experiences. Opening up your spaces and creative production to your audiences is key to building those relationships.
As well as spaces and equipment, arts organisations have skills and human resources that can be shared. Corporate businesses that are keen to be seen as innovative brands of the future are often keen to partner with organisations that can share creative approaches. They are also keen to be associated with creativity.
The card manufacturer Hallmark, for example, started running maker fairs in order to associate itself with a community of makers. Its partnership with Brit + Co is an example of a traditional brand participating and benefiting from the sharing economy. 90% of consumers want brands to share, yet only 40% are perceived as doing this well (according to a study by Deloitte in 2015).
The sharing economy is an opportunity for organisations to turn costs into revenues, while making more efficient use of resources and diversifying audiences. If you need to generate revenue, think about who you could partner with beyond the sector and how they might benefit from the skills and resources you have.
A hybrid economy
Embracing the sharing economy is not just about sharing what you have. It’s about thinking differently about how you can access what you need. It’s a hybrid economy that recognises different forms of value exchange: social, economic and environmental. Rent, borrow, swap, exchange, collaborate, community, crowdsourcing – all these terms refer to different types of sharing or accessing shared resources.
The rapid increase in the number of co-working collaborative spaces is testament to the benefits of a sharing economy. Shared spaces enable individuals and start-ups to split the costs of an office and the tools and materials they need. By being in that space together, they also have access to each other’s skills and expertise.
At the heart is how we work with other people. We are no longer reliant on global corporations to access the products and services we need. Websites such as Airbnb and Etsy have enabled us to trade peer to peer in an affordable way, while creative collaborations allow us to swap skills, services and ideas without a monetary exchange.
How to start
The opportunities for sharing are endless but these five key steps are a good place to start:
- Ask what resources you have that could be shared. It could be physical space, skills, knowledge or transportation. What do you have that could benefit others?
- Think about what you need and the different ways you might be able to access it. There are over 10,000 sharing economy services listed in our Share Guide covering everything from skills to places to stay.
- Think about who else might need what you need and how you could share space, equipment or training to reduce your costs.
- Consider who you could partner with outside the sector to create shared value. Your skills could help a corporate organisation develop creative approaches and open up a new revenue stream for your organisation.
- Be creative in how you communicate sharing with your audiences and visitors. Ourscreen is a great example of how you can involve audiences, crowdsource ideas and turn empty space into new revenue.
You may already be hiring out spaces or sharing equipment, but there will always be something else that you could share.
Benita will be speaking at the AMA conference this July in Belfast.