The Gentle Rebels

We've been shortlisted for an award!

It's really blooming exciting. We're a tiny micro organisation, so to get a bit of external validation like this means so much. We find out on the 8th March whether we have won, but regardless of that outcome, this moment gives us a chance to blow our crafty trumpets... something we're not always very good at.

We thought it timely to explain why the judges at The Creative Learning Guild thought we were worthy of being one of three shortlisted organisations.

Mrs Magooty has been developed to test out a new organisational model for small creative learning companies. We are the risk-takers, the gentle revolutionaries. We forge ahead and try to build a sustainable model which no longer relies on external funding to deliver exceptional participatory arts work. And we work open, sharing what works and what doesn't to inspire and support others to do similar.

We, Phyllis, Katrina and Sarah, (the three directors of Mrs Magooty CIC) have between us, over 100 years of experience working in creative learning and participatory arts. From this experience, we are boldly doing something different with this business.

We aim to reduce social isolation and increase the health and well-being of the people we work with through high quality arts activity. We also run a pop-up and online bead shop and craft retreats which generate income to match fund our other projects. So we do charge for some activities and not others. We strive to ensure there is no discomfort in that.

We are trying to do things a bit differently: to create a true not for profit organisation, which also (unashamedly) pursues some commercial avenues of work in order to fund the other aspects of our portfolio that has greater social impact. Saying that, we don’t want to run an organisation of two halves: all our work is be delivered with care, of highest quality and we ensure that our connection with our participants and customers is as full of heart as possible.

Whether a person is paying for a bead retreat themselves or a person is attending a free workshop, both will be safe, creative hygge spaces to focused on increasing well being and providing a platform to develop creativity, imagination and to make art.

This new organisational model is necessary because a reduction in public subsidy, lottery income and other funding sources mean that if we are to survive we need to adapt.

We are firm believers in the economic principles of Small is Beautiful. Small and micro organisations are good for humans, good for the planet and are exceptionally good value for money.

We are able, whilst ensuring we stay small, to be reactive and responsive to our participants and potential customers. And of course great benefits can be achieved through partnerships with larger organisations, which we are developing but making sure the little guys like us are the catalyst to the work.

Small organisations run better with those doing the bulk of the work also being responsible as directors of the organisation. It’s better value and streamlines processes and reduces resources, enabling an ethos of flexibility and responsiveness which is essential in our fast moving world. We are able to be able to put the work in the heart of the organisation, rather than pay it lip service whilst chasing the money to cover excessive staffing costs.

It’s still early days for us, but is shaping up to be a good model for sustainability. Since becoming a CIC in Autumn 2017, we have covered all our core costs through our trading income and are able to match grants with our own resources. Our dream is to significantly increase profits so entire projects with social impact can be delivered without relying on external funding.

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