Whether you’re forming a cooperative or a business with multiple partners, MCA’s collaborative structure and tools create a business based on collaboration, equity, accountability, and trust.
Let’s explore a couple of potential scenarios….
The Art Studio Space
From a nearby coffee shop, four artists contemplate a two-story building. One of the women owns the building and wants to develop it into studio space but she’s not interested in creating a space that artists must struggle to afford. She envisions a place where flowers bloom, both real and imagined, with murals on the sides of the building to go with the pots and flower boxes. A place where a shared responsibility empowers abundance. A collaborative partnership, based on the MCA structure.
After a year, her dream has flourished.
How Does It Work?
The four artists worked together to split the cost of redecorating, transforming the plain building into an artistic riot of color and creativity. Each artist took on one section of the building as their own studio, decorating and repairing as needed.
Several circles formed as they set duties and chores for the building, repairing and redecorating the shared spaces, and the all-important marketing! With only four people in the group, everyone is committed to attending the regular meeting where chores are reallocated and plans for the next quarterly art opening are discussed and agreed upon.
As these four artists work with different mediums, they each selected spaces of varying sizes. To split the costs fairly, they calculate the square footage of each studio then add in a fraction of the footage of shared spaces. Contributions toward the outcome are either financial or associated with the work that the artist puts into maintaining the space or marketing tasks.
Associates’ cash contributions are made monthly directly into the group’s shared account. Responsibility contributions are made throughout the month with check-ins occurring at each monthly “circle” meeting. Rent, utilities, marketing, and other shared expenses are paid from the group’s shared account. Expenses are minimized given the circle member’s agreement to share the resource as well as responsibilities associated with the collaborative effort.
To prepare for the inevitable moment of parting (almost impossible to imagine for four people in the midst of their first year of business together), the group constructs a plan for transition where the artist leaving will be replaced with another artist who fits with the current group. A planned interview and assessment by the group, along with a collaborative decision, will resolve the issue when it arises.
Given that this group is an informal yet legally binding “association” in the eyes of the law and that the group decides to organize under MCA’s umbrella, there are no “start-up” or organizing costs. The agreement with the property owner is signed by a representative of this MCA circle with seasoned MCA associates available to answer questions or provide guidance throughout what could otherwise be a difficult start-up transition.
A sense of authentic collaboration flows through the art studio space, one designed to support these artists and their creativity for decades to come.
The Retail Shop
When the owner of a yarn shop in a small town considers closing the shop due to a health crisis, ten women come together to save this needed part of the community. Seven of the women have the monetary resources to purchase the shop from the owner while the other three bring expertise and passion for the project.
As they explore their options, they consider the idea of a non-profit corporation or a cooperative before discovering MCA. They want to work together collaboratively, so MCA becomes the best structure for their needs.
Forming a Collaborative Partnership
Within this structure, several circles emerge. Along with a circle that sets a schedule for staffing the shop, other circles include the purchasing circle, an administration circle, and an event-planning circle. With this circular structure, no one person needs to shoulder the entire burden of running the shop.
A central account is established for administrative purposes, and any profits generated are retained by the business. Payments to reimburse those who put up the initial funds to buy the shop are made monthly.
As well, those members who work at the shop at the counter and as teachers are paid for their services, an expense that falls under the regular cost of business. Making these positions paid allows the shop to keep regular hours to most easily serve its clientèle, and rewards the members for the work they are performing for the group.
In this collaboration, a valuable part of the town’s economy and attraction remains for the good of all. The community formed here shelters and nourishes these women and others as they connect to the ancient tradition of the fiber arts.
These stories are meant as examples of how we imagine that the MCA structure and toolset could enrich and empower those in a business to support their community.