|The Dragon Collective|
The Dragon Collective is a Company registered in Wales and Limited by Guarantee.
“People of all ages, abilities and cultures, wherever in Wales they live, have a right to define, create and actively participate in the arts activities of their choice."
The above quote from the Arts Council's is a good summary of the motivation behind The Dragon Collective - although we fully agree with the statement, we see a gap between 'having the right' and 'having the opportunity', and it is our role to close this gap.
How we will achieve our aims
Structure of the organisation
There are many talented people in Wales, and others with potential if offered the right help, but there are few opportunities for them to use their talents. Consequently it is often difficult for these people to get started in their careers unless they move out of Wales - a subject about which the Welsh Assembly recently expressed concern. Our activities as an 'umbrella organisation' will help to develop and promote up-and-coming talent in the Arts, providing more opportunities for people to find meaningful and fulfilling work, and at the same time providing those who want to be entertained with somewhere to go.
Although The Dragon Collective is mid-Wales based, we are expanding our work throughout, and beyond, Wales, to achieve our principle objectives :-
We provide a focus for people's energy and ideas, and draw together many sectors of our communities, particularly as we work with people of different backgrounds, abilities, races and ages. This facilitates contact between people who may not normally mix together, promoting the development of greater mutual respect and understanding.
Successful implementation of our plans will enable us to improve :-
Our aims and ambitions are wide-ranging, but with the right support, including finance, they are achievable.
HOW WE WILL ACHIEVE OUR AIMS
Currently there are two core members, Les Wilkins and Steve Parkinson, who organise and oversee all our activities; between them they have the experience and skills which are needed to make this long-term project a success. Over the years we have built up substantial networks of reliable, talented people, so at our disposal we now have a wide range of contacts with experience in most aspects of our activities, and who are keen to be involved.
There are already many organisations in Wales that cover some of the aspects of our business, and rather than try to duplicate what these do, we prefer to work closely with them as mutually beneficial partners. For example, we already work closely with CARAD in Rhayader and the Community Arts Project in Newtown, and have recently started working with Cambria Arts in Tregaron. These organisations are excellent at what they do, but as we work more 'out in the community' we meet many people who are not aware of what these organisations can offer, and we can direct potential users to their services, and also provide them with specialist services which they need (including workshops, event organisation, DJs). We also offer ongoing support and advice to individuals or groups that have the potential to further their prospects in their chosen field - whether it be music, performance or the visual arts.
We provide a one-stop service to anyone who wants to put on an event, from a small party in a pub to a 3500-capacity tented venue at a large event. Our events and contacts also provide potential sales outlets for a wide range of artists and crafts-people.
Although there is a good awareness of our name in mid-Wales, we need to publicise ourselves and what we do to a much wider audience. We use traditional means of doing this (press releases to local / national newspapers and magazines, posters / fliers, etc.), but we see the internet and e-mail as becoming increasingly important - they are cheap to use, enable easy two-way communication, and are increasingly widely available. Electronic means of communication, both within the organisation and without, are particularly suited to involving our widespread population, much of it on a low income, and is also environmentally beneficial as in many circumstances it reduces the need to use private transport. It is also a good way for people with disabilities that limit their involvement in some activities to keep in touch with the wider community.
Our website gives an overview of what we are involved in. To make this a useful and popular resource, it is essential that it is kept up-to-date, and also that it is a portal to many things of interest and entertainment so that people keep coming back to it. We see this site as a core part of our business, in that it is both our 'shop window' to the world and a means by which many artists and service providers can have an online presence at minimal cost.
Looking further ahead, we have been offered rented premises, probably available in 2003, that will be suitable for a wide variety of purposes, including office accommodation and a large multi-purpose area for such things as workshops, rehearsals, meetings, etc. There will also be adjacent residential overnight accommodation. These facilities will enable us to offer a wider range of services than we can at present.
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DRAGON COLLECTIVE STRUCTURE
We are a Company registered in Wales, limited by Guarantee, and work on a not-for-profit basis
We will shortly be electing further experienced people to our management board which will further enhance our capabilities.
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Funding - we cannot expand our activities without funding for our administrative time. Requirements will be broken down into 'packages', and funding sought for each package from the most appropriate potential funders.
Publicity - we cannot publicise ourselves extensively until funding is obtained, as we could not cope with the increased workload it would generate.
Initial publicity concentrates on advertising the website, as this is the main point of contact and news dissemination, but communication via more traditional means (i.e. 'phone / post) is not overlooked. Initial 'launch' publicity will be done via distribution of 5000 fliers to record shops, galleries, venues, event organisers, etc., e-mailing to our mailing list, requests for links on other websites and a press release to all UK music and many other arts-orientated publications.
Website - this is a core part of the business, and as such undergoes constant updating (news, events listings, etc.) and development - we aim to include such things as MP3 upload / download, message board, 'for sale / wanted' section and reviews.
Parts of the site are available for design by Welsh-based web designers, both to enhance the appearance of the site and to gain publicity for themselves (please contact us if interested - though at present we cannot pay for any work done).
The needs of people with various disabilities are taken into account as much as is practical in the techniques used to build the site.
Increasing skills-base - owing to the past experience of the current core members, our skills are concentrated in the music side of the Arts, though not exclusively so. All efforts are made to draw in people with skills in other areas of the arts - to date this has been deliberately held-back, as the time has not been available to cover it; using mostly existing contacts it will not take long to achieve a similar skills base to that which we already have in music activities.
Own events - our priorities this year are to get the organisation up-and-running rather than promoting our own events; we will however be working collaboratively with other organisations. We do aim to promote one fairly large showcase event in Autumn 2002, for which specific funding will be required.
3rd-party events - during 2001 and 2002 all efforts have been made to showcase The Dragon Collective at events throughout Wales and the UK. Full advantage is taken of any events in which we are involved to advertise ourselves.
Workshops - we are continuing the DJ / music production workshops in conjunction with CARAD and other organisations, and are expanding the range of activities offered - including continuing the activities with children and people with learning difficulties that some of our associates are already doing.
We will also help people to become acquainted with what digital technology can offer them, and can provide training in many aspects of this.
CD - we aim to produce a compilation CD featuring Wales-based acts. This will be distributed to UK radio stations and promoters to showcase the artists included (subject to obtaining specific funding).
Brochure - we aim to produce a brochure featuring Wales-based music, visual and performance artists and resource providers to the arts / entertainment industry (subject to obtaining specific funding).
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Too many talented people are leaving Wales to use their talents in pursuit of a career, and many of those who stay, particularly younger people, have a strong feeling that they are missing out on the culture that they are constantly exposed to in the media. We believe that much of the isolation and dissatisfaction, and consequent problems, felt by many people is partly caused by the lack of affordable activities and entertainment that appeals to them in their communities. The Arts have a strong role in helping these situations, and could be much more part of people's lives than they are now.
Although there are many other organisations doing part of what we do, we see our project as being unique in it's scope, and we believe that we are in the best position to initiate something that there is an urgent need for in Wales. The Prime Minister has said that the music industry is one of Britain's biggest industries in financial terms ('bigger than the steel industry'), yet, in spite of the prominence of many Welsh artists, it seems to us that Wales is not getting it's 'share of the cake'.
All the work we have done so far has been done on a voluntary basis (including creation of the website). Through our activities over the last few years we have become increasingly aware of the need for what we are doing, and have been encouraged by the universally good response and encouragement we have received. We have now reached a stage where the pressure on our time is becoming too great to achieve the potential of The Dragon Collective unless we obtain funding to enable us to devote much more time to it.
Our assets are the experience, skills and contacts that we have, which means that there is little investment required to get the project started; we will therefore not be incurring debts that could have negative effects on our viability.
Although we will pursue every opportunity to raise income, we think it unlikely that The Dragon Collective will be a profitable business for several years, if ever; this is not unusual for the type of work we propose to do, as many not-for-profit organisations are funded on the basis that what they do is worthwhile in itself. One of our objectives is to keep many of our services free, or at least very cheap, as we understand that many of our potential users are on very low incomes and we do not want to deter them from using us on the grounds of cost; our activities should help many people increase their skills and income, but this will have no direct financial benefit to ourselves. We are working on the basis that our work is worth funding, but that we will help generate income for others.
We realise that our base location of Powys goes against us for some funding criteria, but as our work is throughout the country, we hope this will not be a barrier to our success in obtaining funding.
If you may be interested in helping fund our activities, please e-mail us to arrange further discussions.
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