Mark Kesel, Secretary of Sinfonia Musicisti
Having started a professional co-operative orchestra with the intention that the shared ownership of an arts organisation should help members work together and have the shared desire to support its financial survival through challenging times and share the artistic goals – creative thinking is such an exciting part of the arts – I have been struck with how difficult it has been for us to engage productively with other co-operatives despite being members of Co-operatives UK.
This is no doubt because each co-operative (like ours) is so insular and concerned with sorting its own affairs that we do not see the potential of the bigger picture. Co-operatives are in general run and supported by people with the desire to benefit their community and are not driven by self-interest. It stands to reason therefore we would want to support other organisations run by people with the same ideals.
My proposal to take participation in co-operatives to another level is therefore that the co-operative movement should strive for a web structure where individual organisations are at the centre but are linked regionally and nationally to help members of each co-operative organisation support and use the services of all other co-operatives. For example, It may be that membership of a co-operative could make you eligible (personally) to belong to the umbrella co-operative movement or organisation and thus benefit from exclusive advantages if using the services of other co-operative organisations. It may be you personally taking advantage of such services or even your co-operative organisation. Hence the web structure.
The first step in constructing this in practice and seeing how it may encourage a real,overarching sense of co-operative community spirit and engagement nationally.
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