Free Culture Incubator No 10 - A matter of form

14.10.2011 13:00
Festival edition: 

A matter of form – founding stories of creative organizations

Free Culture Incubator No 10


Moderators & Facilitators: Jan Froehlich, Ela Kagel, Dirk Kiefer
Friday, Oktober 14 2011, 1-6 pm

Universität der Künste Berlin, Career & Transfer Service Center, Einsteinufer 43-53, Auditorium

A matter of form – founding stories of creative organizations


“Well, I have this project...” – this is how many stories around independent, creative labour begin. Cultural forms of organisation hardly ever develop on the basis of strategic considerations but rather cluster around the individual needs of a specific project. Teams are built for a limited amount of time, splitting up again, or merging into networks. Money sometimes comes from private sometimes from public sources; sometimes not at all. How is it possible to build sustainable structures in spite of such unreliable dynamics? Which models of organisation make sense in the field of art and free culture? And, most importantly: what are the practical consequences of each organizational model? During this halfday workshop we will focus on three different organizational models: companies, non-for profit organizations and networks.


This workshop addresses cultural workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs or network activists who aim at developing a sustainable structure for their activities. We will talk about founding requirements, legal implications and practical aspects of daily business.


// Moderators & Facilitators:

Jan Froehlich, attorney-at-law, LL.M.(University of London), specialist solicitor informationtechnology-law & trade-marks, patent, copyright law. Teaching assignment at the University of Fine Arts Berlin, faculty "curation".
Ela Kagel, Freelance curator & producer. Founder of Supermarkt – Free Culture Department Store.

Dirk Kiefer, The Federal Government’s Center of Excellence for the Cultural & Creative Industries.


Location: Universität der Künste Berlin, Career & Transfer Service Center, Einsteinufer 43-53, Auditorium.

Date: Friday, Oktober 14 2011, 1-6 pm

> The workshop will be held in German!



// According to these 3 themes, the workshop will be based on the following three user stories:


Use Case 1: IT Start-up

3 young software engineers and camera operators have the plan to develop a livestreaming TV studio. Each of them contributes different things: technologies, hardware and know-how. By combining all their resources they have a realistic basis to start their own company. They have found an ideal premise which they would like to rent & turn into a studio. The team already collaborates on various projects, each of them under their own freelance label. After they will have founded their company, they plan to conduct all their business activities under one roof.


These are the important questions they have to deal with:

• What kind of organization makes sense for them? What are the requirements to set up a company?
• What are the best ways of keeping track of the personal contributions of each member of a business partnership?
• How to allocate the profits?

• How scalable is the company? (in terms of growth, target group, product and future team members?)


Use Case 2: Art Association

A group of artists aims at realizing a series of exhibitions together with international partners. The financing will be based on public funding. The group decideds to found an association in order to have an instrument for public funding acquisition. During their planning it becomes clear that they will have an income as well, through the sales of works of art for instance. They decide to appoint two team members as executive directors. However, the rest of the group wants to participate in the decision making. Together they reflect on the ideal organization form in order to realize their plans.


These are the crucial questions they are facing right now:

• Should they go for a non-profit form or not? What are the pros and cons?
• How to organise a representative participation of all the association members?
• How to deal with income revenue?

• Is the foundation process complex? What does it entail? How long does it take?


Use Case 3: Network

Over the course of the last years, a stable network of media activits developed out of an online mailing list. This community is based on the initiative of a media researcher in the United States and meanwhile has local nodes in 23 countries. These local nodes use the network’s label for all kinds of events. The network has no specific organizational forms, nor any hierarchies. The power of decision is held by the most active members. For instance, if the network has to decide whether to allow a new international node, then this decision is based on a majority vote. The network has to cover various costs, such as for the mailserver or the website maintenance. Other than that, the members of the network plan a physical gathering for all the 23 nodes. This calls for the acquisition of funding as well as for forming an organization committee. They discuss their different options via the mailing list, but it is difficult to actually get results: each country has their own legal practice and business organizations. How to find a form which supports the decentralized, international character of the network?


This is what the group discusses at the moment:

• How to organize responsibility in a network? How to build up a decentralized mode of organization?
• What would be an appropriate legal form for a worldwide online-network?
• How to organize this practically (in terms of financing, communication, corporate identity etc.)

• How sustainable can a network be? How long is it bound to exist?

>> And this is the link to the registration.


 Partner of the FCI Workshop series: The Federal Government’s Center of Excellence for the Cultural & Creative Industries