“We’ve explored cheaper models, but […] the numbers didn’t add up.” – interview with James Hopkirk, Editor of Ideas Tap, part 2.

RS: Now, 2 million is a pretty large number for most artists and non-artists – and I’m sure all readers can sympathise with the dilemma of “nice-to-haves”. The bills simply have to be paid! Could you tell me briefly how the money is being spent? Assume I’m not familiar with Ideas Tap.

JH: The main expenses are office space – including the space we use to run our Spa events, staff, servers to host our members’ data securely, a development team to keep moving the website forward and deal with problems and of the course the large budget that is spent on running our Spa programme, the funding we give out to our members, the money we pay mentors and other industry experts and the money we use to fund some of the big competitions we run on the site.

RS: This is perhaps the moment for me to say, as an Ideas Tap member, that you guys offer FREE WORKSHOPS AND MENTORING, on either first come first serve or competition basis; not to mention that you pay more advanced artists who lead those workshops. That is simply – rare.

JH: Yes, we’ve always tried to keep everything we do free, to ensure it’s open access. In our discussions around closure, we did talk about the possibility of paid membership, which some people were talking about on Twitter yesterday. We did some research, modelled the numbers and ultimately it didn’t add up. Not only did it go against the grain, but it simply wouldn’t generate enough money, after the costs of collection and management, to be worth it.

RS: Ah, the cost of collection and management – something laypeople won’t have thought about, but it would be a percentage of implementing and running the new system! That makes a lot more sense, now…

JH: Yeah – processing fees really add up! And whole subscription management side of things, the associated marketing and so on is expensive.

RS: Of course, it would be – after the first heartfelt wave of support, you’d have to chase us like any other organisation. Not fun, costly, against core values.

JH: Exactly.

RS: So, sticking to the money for a little bit more, next to the membership talk you have people who start crowdfunding pages for you. Could you comment on that?

JH: Aha – I’ve seen people suggesting crowdfunding for us, but I didn’t know anyone had actually started one.

It’s incredibly flattering – very moving, in fact, for all of us here.

The problem, though, is that what we need is long-term funding.

And by long-term, we’d really need a two or three year commitment.

RS: Yes, it’s like all those charities that phone us, going “When you give regularly, you enable us to plan spending and further actions!”

And I know the spiel well, ’cause like many artists I worked on the other side of that phone..

JH: Exactly!

Haha

RS: …Except you don’t want to be a nuisance – you want to continue to give freely. As a member I saw that a lot of people on IdeasTap didn’t have official arts training, yet there seems to be an incredible hunger and need for the service you provide!

JH: Yes, especially as the cost of education is now so stratospherically high, I think the sort of informal training we offered, for free, while certainly not a direct replacement for formal education, was a lifeline for a lot of young people who simply couldn’t afford university or other professional training.

“We’re not here to make a profit” – continue to part 3.

“We’d rather close than suffer a slow death” – go back to part 1.

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