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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 have 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.

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.

In January 2022 SÍN has launched its new programme, an adaptation of the various international good examples of participative funding schemes in the arts.

The scheme is relatively simple. In 2022 we published an open call in a total sum of approximately EUR 9.000 to artists and art workers in the independent performing arts field. In 2023 we managed to double this amount with a crowd funding campaign and project grant from the Hungarian Association of Independent Performing Arts.

It is our ambition to learn, develop, fine-tune THE GAP programme together with the participants and all interested parties. We aim at flexibly adapting it to the needs in the field in a continuous learning process about participatory funding.

The main objectives of THE GAP are the following:

  • We would like to develop, improve and experiment with other funding structures than the currently known ones together with all players in the independent art field
  • We like to give way for experimentation – not only in the artistic processes but also in ones that support, supplement them
  • We would like to encourage collaboration as opposed to competition, to take responsibility for one another
  • We are interested in opening a forum for a professional, mature discourse of artistic ideas, plans

Programme Design

2023 is already the second edition of The GAP. It is an essential element of the idea that the funding scheme is not a rigid one – we learn each year by reflection, by asking questions from the participants and shape the programme according to the given tendencies we observe in our sector.

Brief yearly outline of the programme

January / Open call – the open call is deliberately wide as regards to the topics: it is  open to any proposals that directly or indirectly support the independent performing arts scene and have demonstrable impact on it.  

February / Applications – applicants have three weeks to apply with their project plans. Then all applications are shared amongst the applicants, who have four weeks to read all applications. They also determine the main criteria of selection. This is done by a collection then voting of the 4 most important criteria.

In 2023 these criteria were the following: innovation, feasibility, how much the project serves the arts community, long-term impact.   

March / THE GAP Decision Day – the applicants gather for a day-long decision making process. The process is supported by group facilitation methodology, the framework is developed and moderated by the SÍN staff. The participants present their programme, they discuss them in short forums, and in the afternoon the decision is made in two rounds.

March-December / Project Developments – those projects that are selected by The Gap community are developed.

December / THE GAP Showcase – an event with open invitation. In the end of December the project leaders present the development of the programmes. In a facilitated workshop the participants of the event discuss about the future fine-tuning, focuses of the next year’s programme.

In 2023 six projects are supported:

A new hub for independent performing arts in Budapest and their first Festival to be held in May 2023

A 3-day event organized by the Association of the Young Playwrights’ House with discussions, networking events, showcases for emerging playwrights.

Preparatory works for the realization of a bottom-up new international new circus festival to promote new circus, to give opportunities for circus artists outside the mainstream circus, to generate discussions, sharing knowledge. A project by OneTwoMany

Development of the framework of an agency for contemporary dancers working in the film industry with a non-hierarchical, transparent approach, focusing on the needs and interest of the artists.

Research for the MA accreditation of the educational programme of the performance course of FreeSZFE. Development of the curriculum, examination of its international compatibility. Development of a sustainable operational system, scouting international partners.

In 2022 five projects were supported:

A bottom-up festival in Budapest organized by artists for the showcase of progressive, experimental artistic work. The festival is also an experiment as regards to its organizational practices: it is a collective, collaborative work done by the participating artists.

The focus of the research is the mapping of a collective memory through the process of personal recollections. Research and installation developed by drama teachers, Eszter Dobos and Napsugár Trömböczky.

A full open day to share practices of somatic movement and approach.

A complex, holistic educational programme by dancemaker Júlia Gaál and physiotherapist Bence Kovács for professionals about anatomy, the balance of body and mind, nutrition and health.

Development of a feasibility study for the creation of an online platform available to schools with small accessibility to live contemporary dance performance. A project by Márton Csuzi, Eszter Dobos and Emese Nagy

GAP – new experiment by SÍN for participative funding
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