Coop in focus: Rednile Projects

Suzanne Hatton

Meet Suzanne Hutton, artist and founder/director of rednile projects ltd, a not for profit company driven by the collaborative artistic practices of Suzanne Hutton, Michael Branthwaite and Janine Goldsworthy. rednile initiate deliver dynamic art projects in the public realm by employing a grass roots approach which focuses on experimentation, research and collaboration. Their projects often involve other artists, specialists, communities and businesses to explore the fabric of a place with an aim to create integrated art work which has impact, quality and beauty.

What were your biggest challenges on day one?

Finding funding to deliver our projects and ensure everyone involved were paid fairly for their time and talents. Navigating the running of a co-op and limited company- making sure we knew what our responsibilities were and submitting our finances/accounts etc to HMRC and companies house. Also negotiating with landlords and local authorities on buildings/locations we could utilise for our projects.

What or who was the biggest help?

SES (social enterprise sunderland) helped us to set up and gave us funding for letterhead paper, business cards and signposted us to any training or opportunities. Also a-n magazine were good for us to research the arts sector so we knew more about marketing our projects, raising funds, contracts and how much to pay people.

How did you go about getting funding?

Arts council, regeneration agencies which were set up at the time (in 2004) local authorities and some private businesses. In each case we had to prove how our project/aims matched with theirs or how we could benefit each other and work collaboratively for a greater outcome.

What problem is your business solving?

Adding to the fabric of our culture by providing opportunities for the public and artists to create and experience creativity and art. There are many tangible outcomes from this activity which are difficult to measure but that enrich peoples lives, educate them or just provide time out of everyday reality.

How did you find out that this problem exists?

Creativity is innate within humans and nature generally. We often forget to be creative or don’t get the opportunity due to our busy lives but it is essential for our well being and for solving problems. As artists and arts enablers, rednile recognises this and wants to ensure everyone can enjoy and experience art.

Why a coop, why not a regular business?

Because we work collaboratively within a lot of our projects and they are often to do with working within communities. Rednile also changes and morphs depending on what we are interested in as practising artists. We also don’t make a profit as we work project to project with a little left over money budgeted to cover our overheads.

What type of cooperative are you?

Not for profit working with Green rules written into our Mems and Arts.

What is your cooperative’s income sharing structure?

We apply for funding or a job/opportunity and have to draw up a budget which covers the cost of everything for that project, including our fees and a little left over for rednile general overheads. We calculate fees based on time spent working on the project and different roles needed within that project.

What is your decision making process?

Day to day it is just myself and the other two founding members of rednile. We also have 3 other specialists on our board of directors to help with long term planning and strategic decisions

How quickly can you make decisions?

In a minute! We have kept it simple and trust each other and our directors and have the same goals/aims in mind.

How would you compare the individual level of autonomy as compared to a regular employment?

Working for yourself is great! it challenges you to think about what you really care about and i rarely work on a project that i’m not 100% interested/excited by.

What extra advice can you give to would be founders of coops?

Make sure you trust each other and team up with people who have different skills, knowledge and experience to you.

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