Step 2: Finding partners and negotiating
Here, partners establish their working relationship by agreeing on the goals, scope and principles that will form the basis of their collaboration and activities. The partners identify necessary resources, monitoring and evaluation tools, as well as communication strategies.
2.1 Selecting a partner
Correctly choosing partners is essential when creating a partnership.
A partner should have a profile that complements and is compatible with your structure. Does the partner have specific skills, resources and know-how? Is the partner complementary from a sectoral, geographical, strategic and structural point of view?
- Select potential partners based on the project needs identified at the strategic planning stage – which bodies add value to the partnership by their characteristics, experience, skills and networks? Example: Given its community focus and actions to defend the interests of a group, a cultural association may be the preferred partner at the local level.
- Know the strengths, weaknesses and aspirations of the partner, as well as the resources it can provide; Example: An NGO’s capacity to establish dialogue rapidly with target communities, an SME’s expertise in a weaving technique particularly suited to the production of a new cultural good.
- Know its values, missions, means of action or, more generally, work culture; Example: Choose a partner who shares the same vision of development, respects basic human rights, and whose activity is not partisan.
- Consider the legitimacy and representativeness of the body in the eyes of the public, your target, and the culture sector as a whole – in other words, the image and reputation of the partner; Example: Examine the legitimacy of an NGO working in AIDS prevention in a given area; the professionalism for which a distributor chosen for a new market is known.
- Choose individuals who have real decision-making power, influence and a personal or individual interest in becoming involved in the project. The success of partnerships is often largely contingent on the drive of those directly involved in the planning and management of the project and on the influence and impetus they give in their own organizations. Example: In a partnership with a local government body that has a say in the definition of cultural policy, ensure that the mayor is fully involved and delegates the project to a trusted collaborator.
This overview helps to define the field of action of the group of partners with respect to the various stakeholders in the culture sector.
2.2 Negotiating the partnership
Once you have identified the stakeholders who could be involved in the project, you must meet with them and establish a common drive so as to facilitate the full participation of each party.
The negotiation phase is crucial because this is where you define shared operational objectives and ensure that each party will provide the means required to attain them. This step also helps to measure the motivation and commitment of future partners, which are key elements to the success of the partnership.
Understanding, attentiveness and respect for the interests of each party during the negotiations are indispensable.
Discuss and negotiate:
- the rules regarding decision-making: identify the person(s) responsible taking into account the weight of each decision (all partners, a committee, a facilitator, rotating management, etc.);
- the way in which financial contributions will be managed;
- the basic principles and tools for working together effectively (e.g. quality of human relations, reciprocity, shared responsibilities);
- the objectives of the partnership: they must be defined jointly to ensure coherence between the individual goals of each partner and the overall goal; Example: Foster the autonomy of a group of craftworkers by building their technical, artistic and commercial capacities. A partnership may be established between a local government body, training programme, a cooperative of craftworkers, a cultural association and a business school.
- the main bodies that will be created, as necessary (steering committee, follow-up group, etc.);
- breach of contract clauses; Example: Cancellation of a concert by the artist in a partnership covering promotion of a tour.
- the limits that would necessitate a review of the agreement (failure to meet the basic terms agreed upon in the negotiations).
It is important to distinguish between the partner’s rhetoric and reality and ensure that targets are compatible with the chosen strategy.
At the end of this step, a project proposal is drawn up specifying the management and decision-making structure, which then makes it possible to establish a partnership agreement that reflects these exchanges.
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