Project-Action Agency for TO companies

Project/Action Agency

The missing link between TO and management

Rationale

In all images TO groups make, management ranges next to oppression. A joker involved in management already seems to slide towards corruption. Management sounds like capitalism, like neo-liberalism, like cynicism and exploitation. It echoes ‘money over people’ and seems to be totally devoid of dignity and values.

At the same time, TO offers people a magnificent and powerful tool to analyze power relationships, including that of management in society (usually called politics) and in organization (among which are also companies). Most people we work with have a desire to work in the economy and be part of a society ruled by political parties. Some of them may even become managers.

And in order to finance their work, jokers need at least to be able to handle money and thus apply for grants or other forms of support. Donors expect their money to be managed in a responsible way. This is mostly the first encounter between TO and management. A troupe, an organization emerges and starts to work, to plan, to employ and to grow. This needs management as well. And up to this point, no-one has become a neo-liberalist yet, no-one has switched sides and joined the bastards. The reality is that even the most anarchist group performs some sort of management, just like some of the largest companies can perform chaos. Management is not a choice. But it is something you can make choices about.

It is my estimate that the management dilemma paralyzes many TO practitioners and prevents the movement from growing according to the accumulated energy. As soon as the spectre of management appears, many jokers flee or choose to ignore it. If jokers are able to integrate it into their companies, they will become empowered and be able to face the outside world in a more equal fashion. And isn’t that what Augusto Boal’s definition of dialogue was: an exchange on an equal level.

I am convinced that it is not necessary to look upon anything managed as oppressive. On the contrary, by understanding the mechanisms of management, the struggle can be much more effective. Why should other organizations have an advantage over TO groups? Especially in the fields in which TO unleashes so much energy, why should others who evoke less should receive more funding? It’s not about competition, it’s about equality and justice.

Project agency

I want to give the TO community a boost by helping companies to generate a management model that suits their purposes and resources. This assistance includes three levels of organisation development and the corresponding management levels.

Any TO company can seek assistance from the agency. The first step always involves the assessment of the real and ideal images of the organization. Sometimes one of the questions is if there should be an organization at all. This is regarded as an equally important question to questions about organization development.

Some services of the agency are free of charge, especially if it involves troupes or collectives with an annual turnover of less than $10,000 or € 7,000. Mostly an article for ImpACT@ will be asked for as a recompense.

Services on three levels

1)      Organization set-up

Anything belonging to becoming an official NGO or theatre company.

2)      Organization and policy development

How can small NGO become stable and work on its goals. What do projects need to look like when they apply for funding? How do you manage a Forum Theatre tour?

Part of this service is an introduction to office management, including

–          setting up a bookkeeping system

–          setting up a database

–          communication and IT

–          what is an office anyway and does it need a real space?

Another element is the

–          Force Field analysis workshop (with a lot of Image and Forum Theatre elements)

which focuses on your strength in a complex field of powers. How can you choose strategic partnerships to become a stronger player than you actually look like.

3)      Project management

How do you deal with larger, even international projects? What do they require in terms of:

–          networking

–          decision-making

–          financial basis (and how can you fundraise to match grants that only cover a part of the budget)

–          bookkeeping and accountancy

and do you need to do it all yourself? How can you collaborate in order to share or even outsource the burden of bureaucracy?

This is a consultancy service based on ongoing collaboration for one or two years.

Additional services:

–          I can write or adapt Forum Theatre plays (I have written quite a few, with an accumulated playlist of more than 700 shows)

–          I can develop a Joker grid for your Forum play(s), based on at least 10 different jokering techniques – involving different kinds of interaction with audiences and actors.

Returns

In the set-up stage there is no charge, apart from an article for ImpACT@ and the assistance in organizing a one-day workshop. If possible, covering of an air ticket would be great. Otherwise I will just raise the minimum number of participants.

The project visit involves one entire day with your company, working out the basics to determine of an NGO should be founded or not.

The office management training takes two days and costs € 500 a day, plus air fare and including materials. There will be two trainers who will require boarding. It is recommended to share this training with other emerging NGO’s. These kinds of trainings are often easy to finance.

The Force Field analysis workshop requires a transport ticket plus € 300 for a whole day. Orgs with a turnover of less than $10,000 pay less.

All other costs are project-related and can be added to project budgets.

All writing assignments (especially project outlines) cost € 75/page of about 500 words, except for Forum plays, where a page counts 250 words (artistic work, words are heavier…)

Project financing costs 5% of the amount financed if the project takes place, plus a basic fee of € 300 or  the co-organization of a workshop.

The consultancy is free of charge if it can be done by skype and email and is limited to a few hours per month. A consultancy visit means a € 300 daily fee.

In general this means, that the average net investment for most groups will be € 300 for the organization development workshop plus a potential office management training. All other costs can be covered either by project budgets or the organization of workshops.

Workshops

I offer four kinds of TO workshops, based on my personal skills and experience:

  1. Image Theater as a performance technique
    1. Either a two-day training for inexperienced jokers
    2. Or a one-day training for people with some joker skills
  2. Blagg! or TO with offenders

This is a 2-day training focusing on risk assessment and alternatives to risk behavior. The Blagg! method is a combination of TO and cognitive psychology

  1. The Joker as a communication channel

Jokering for dialogue in conflict situations, especially among young people or between young people and (elderly) adults.

A 2-day training based on real scenes from real conflict situations. Value jokering (or the Ethical Dilemma Theatre Method) is part of the program

  1. Legislative Theatre on a community level

From Lightning Legislative Theatre to elaborated problem-solving Forum Theatre within multicultural communities.

I prefer to offer this workshop to community members and community workers, and anyone else involved in conflicts.

Jokering

I am also available as a guest Joker in problematic contexts, ranging from one-off performances to touring Forum – within a reasonable time span.

Contact me at ronald@c-linq.nl

Keep making the difference!

Ronald Matthijssen

19 May 2014

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