This month is all about sustainability.
We are having a meeting with the companies that use the co-op the most frequently to discuss membership fees. Currently we have two tiers of Co-op users. The big money pants institutions and then the smaller non-profit or individual artists and arts organizations.
The big money guys have always paid for the use of the Co-op stock and the Co-op crew. The smaller organizations have been getting access to the stock mostly for free. They sometimes pay a small piece by piece rental fee and if they want Co-op crews assistance in construction they sometimes pay a small fee... but mostly, these groups have been using our services for free for the past four years. It may be a hard thing for them to swallow the idea of paying a membership fee. The bottom line is however that without creating some sort of revenue stream for the Co-op we will not be able to sustain. So next week, we meet with these smaller organizations to talk to them about what they think is reasonable...
We are currently applying to several foundations for support, in hopes of keeping the fees low as well. We are also trying to cultivate more relationships with larger institutions. Currently we have four of those relationships- two universities, one private high school, and one regional theater.
The TCG Ah Ha Do It grant has been invaluable in helping us take steps to grow the Co-op effectively but that funding is going to run out. We would hate to take a step backwards with this program. The goal right now is to do anything we can to prevent that step backwards... I am also meeting with other area re-use services to ask them about their funding, their membership fees, and their overall structures. We have been playing with the idea of expanding our tool share service to the city to get a larger membership pool as well and we are investigating that as a possibility.
Time will tell what solutions we find... Wish us luck!
Jenny Larson, Salvage Vanguard Theater and The Austin Scenic Co-op