Step 1: Defining the purpose and establishing partnership objectives
The first step in creating a partnership is to determine its purpose: What is your goal and how can the partnership help you achieve it? Example: Enhancing the mobility of artists in a given region calls for a partnership that involves various sectors (managers, agents, consulates and other offices that grant visas, artists’ associations, public authorities, etc.) and coordinates their skills, priorities and specialities.
A partnership should be a fully justified choice, as it demands time, energy and a high level of commitment from stakeholders. Example: Developing a communication strategy to promote a cultural good, service or activity does not necessarily require a partnership. Here, outsourcing to a specialized agency would be easier to manage.
This step includes collecting information, studying options and confirming the need to bring several cultural stakeholders together for a specific project.
1.1 Internal assessment: knowing the environment
Before joining forces with others, it is essential to be well structured internally. Objectively assess your structure and environment to identify any potential problems or stumbling blocks and your partners’ interests.
This internal assessment is the foundation of a “win-win” partnership.
- Analyse your strengths and weaknesses to determine the level of your structure’s skills and task proficiency. Example: A renowned recording or publication catalogue; outdated sound recording equipment; a network of contacts with a strong potential to break into a niche market.
- Assess the market to know what position your organization’s activity occupies in the culture cycle. Example: A structure that produces music, musical performances and manages tours is involved at different phases in the cycle, while a distributer’s activities will concern just one phase.
- Analyse the political, economic and social context to gauge your organization’s ability to rise to the challenges of its environment and develop better foresight. Example: a political crisis may result in cuts to the budgets of institutions; a financial crisis may oblige consumers to limit their spending on culture.
- Establish your individual goals and determine how a partnership will help achieve those goals. Each goal should correspond to specific needs: special skills, local presence and credibility in dealing with financial backers. Example: An artist who cannot afford to purchase materials can set up a partnership with a local producer and pay with a portion of the profits; an independent publisher looking for new opportunities can seek out a partnership with a publishing collective, the local chamber of commerce, a government agency for promoting exports or independent distributers abroad so as to ensure that literary products can access regional and international markets.
1.2 Strategic planning
Before approaching potential partners or encouraging them to sign up to your initiative and drafting a project together, you should have a relatively clear idea of what you will propose. A good strategy should be flexible to include other partners’ ideas and approaches, and allow room to reorient the partnership if important events occur. It should also include alternative solutions and options. This step provides a basis for the partnership which will be very useful during negotiations.
- Determine the geographical scope of the project (local, national, regional, international) and identify the added value you are looking for in a partner;
- Broadly outline your conception of the partnership while leaving room to define a shared vision together with future partners;
- Draft a detailed description of what is needed to make the partnership operational (e.g. infrastructure, financial resources, specific skills, etc.);
- Think about the type, profile, purpose and success criteria of the cooperation.
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