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In 2022 SÍN Arts Centre has launched its programme THE GAP, a participatory funding scheme, which is for now a unique, innovative solution in Hungary.
What is participatory funding?
It is a collective name for a bunch of various solutions for funding with the core idea that the decision making power about grants is ceded to the very communities impacted by the funding decision.
How is this principle manifested in THE GAP?
In 2022 SÍN Arts Centre, which is active in the independent contemporary performing arts scene, published a grant scheme of about EUR 8.000 in an open call. According to the call all applicants read each application. The SÍN colleagues developed the decision making process, its framework and moderated it based on validated group facilitation methods – they did not take part in the decision making itself. The community of the applicants – in 2022 there were 36 of them – spent a day together and granted support to five programmes of varied financial support, the amount of which was part of the applications. It was an exciting and uplifting day both for the participants and the SÍN staff. We learnt an awful lot form each other, about the empowering sensation of a democratic and transparent decision making process.
Why have we developed THE GAP?
We had various direct and indirect objectives:
– To get familiar with, develop and promote alternative funding models (not only) for the Hungarian performing arts scene
– To give opportunity to artists, who are predominantly grant application writers, to read and evaluate applications
– Experimentation with new forms and solutions of non-hierarchical systems
– Enhance responsibility taken for one another
– Encouragement of openness to collaboration, experiencing it even in a competitive situation – we believe it’s possible
– Betterment of debate culture
– Learning about, promoting democratic, transparent decision making processes
– And through all this the empowerment of the civil society
What have we learnt in the first year?
First of all we learnt that we had devised something important, special, which resonated with a great number of people at a high level – even if for now just in our close professional vicinity. This has strengthened our intention to continue and further develop THE GAP in 2023.
If a process is thoroughly planned, all its details are shared with those involved in it and it is carried out consistently it will create a safe space in which all participants can remain curious, supportive and cooperative.
A decision behind which the arguments and the considerations are clear for all participants – even if it’s not necessarily beneficial for everybody on an individual level – will acceptable and supportable for the whole community.