Actes if is a regional network of new cultural venues (Ile-de-France)
Unique experiment in France, the network actes if, created in 1996, is a regional network of 17 multi-field cultural venues in the area of Paris and surrounds. In 1996, six small concert halls in Ile-de-France gathered into a network to share their artistic, economical and structural experiences. Today, 17 members from different aesthetic fields (theatre, music, dance, multimedia or circus) are part of Actes-If. The network helps those venues by promoting their choices, acting as a real lobby.
Main characteristics of Actes-If network members
These venues were born because they are not established, institutional or commercial, and question a dominating system. So they create alternatives in the artistic way, in the operating modes, and in the way they relate the territory.
Actes if federates cultural venues of creation and diffusion, all different by their artistic identity, their size, their activities, their tools, around similar artistic, social and economic question.
In an artistic autonomy, these venues base their projects on artistic creation and promotion of emergent cultures / young cultures.
Taking a socio-cultural action on peripheral territories (suburbs, sensitive districts), they create a relation of proximity between artists and public, and of user-friendliness with the spectators. Because they take risk promoting young artists, they have a mode of management in mixed economy (private and public fundings), with also an important part of own resources (ticketing, hiring, services...).
Difficult to find the appropriate name...
If we said that these venues were “alternative“, “new“ or “intermediaries“, the common denominator between the members of Actes-If resides today rather in the concept of “solidarity“.
Experience sharing questions establishment, causes imagination, creates synergies, from which the will rises to exchange, and even to put projects together.
The force of the network, together in diversity
By accompanying the venues in their operation (professionalism, putting resources in commun, knowledge and experiments, financial solidarity, observatory, advice) and by constituting a platform of exchanges and communication, the network reinforces this common reference index.
These at the same time structural, economic and artistic convergences make it possible to develop concrete actions within the network.
Objectives of the network
Actes-If aims at :
developing projects, actions, operating modes of the members,
supporting the know-how and experiment, exchanges of information between members,
contributing to the construction of a collective reflection around the principal issues of the cultural sector, in particular the relationship to other networks.
Missions of the network
Since the beginning, actes if has provided services to support the management of his members:
Professional training: Different trainings sessions are organized each year by actes if to help teams to consolidate their activities, and become more professional. The lessons are adapted to small cultural places. The subjects relate to all the professional branches (build and use communication’s tools: publishing desktop, press, technique, safety in theatres, how getting private or European grants, learning different ways of managing... )
Pay slip service: This service consists in issuing the pay slip for the personnel, permanent or intermittent, of the staff of the members of the network and accompanying them and their tax steps (thus it allows the structuring of the venues by avoiding the moonlighting).
Advise and permanent information
The network’s mission is focused on getting benefit from sharing the different place’s resources:
Economies of scale: the network is between people receiving subsidies and clients, and ask for several clients so it can have some reduction in cost per unit resulting from increased production or centralized orders to providers (insurances, printers, distributors of programs, inspectors of extinguishers...) known for the quality of their services and low prices.
Exchange of knowledge and experiences, system of the referents: That consists to find in the network qualified people in a field which makes profit from their experiment and knowledge with other members from the network.
Thematic Meetings: They are organised between theatre’s teams and deal with procedures, knowledge and experiences. They can be focussed on issues specific to each professional branch or can deal with a particular set of themes (financial mutual aid fund, observatory, venues in Paris). These meetings allow actes if members to collaborate on different needs and resources (i.e technical support or artistic advice), develop internal competences, and help to define actions together.
Financial Mutual aid funds: In order to mitigate the financial difficulties of the economic situation of members, actes if created financial mutual aid funds. Immobilized on a specific and remunerated bank account, a sum coming from actes if and its members (on a voluntary basis) constitutes a "deposit" and helps the organization of credit partner to give to the network members short-term loans and to offer advantageous rate or overdrafts which can be obtained more easily.
The advantages of this system are as follows:
the organization of credit can lend a higher sum than the amount blocked by actes if (from 5 to 10 times more),
several structures can borrow in the same time,
and it does not require a subsidy certificate to be able to benefit from them.
Actes if helps theatres to get known through different ways:
Information centre: actes if develops some documentary, bibliographical resources. This service offers members a centralised source of professional publications about cultural activities in actes if office, as well as a referencing of publications specialized in the cultural, tax, economic sectors... These works are intended to the staff of these places. The network coordinator can carry out research on specific subjects.
Another mission of this information centre plays also a role of observation of the practices, the way of working, the way of management of the venues.
Observation Centre: It consists of undertaking studies, collecting data on operation of the venues, and informing professionals and authorities. This work determines the needs of these actors and answers their needs while setting up adapted actions. It allows also representing them, in the cultural environment on a regional and international scale.
Internal communication, actions and supports:
Website www.actesif.com: The network website is open to anyone who wants to better know actes if actions, the theatres and their programmes. It also includes a special section where members can find many professional documents. The website is a virtual information centre with literature based on specific sets of themes. It is also a platform of communication between members of the network. It is populated by actes if, the members of venues, as well as other networks or professional organizations partners.
“Notinterne”( Internal Newsletter): professional news (economic, legal and political press reviews), useful to their development, news from the different actes if members (the personnel, projects of the structure, events). It is mailed to all the members of the network.
Themes Meetings: Interns with each branch professional or bearing on a particular set of themes (financial mutual aid fund, observatory, Parisian venues), they support the meetings, experience sharing, develop internal competences, and allow to define actions together to be carried out.
(External communication, actions and supports:)
Newsletter actes if: In order to share audiences between venues and to promote young programmed creation, the network offers advantages (reduced price, buy one, get one free...) to the spectators in a monthly newsletter including a spectacle of discovered by place.
Inter actes if: This quarterly magazine introduces professional readers to theatres’ news, common aspects (new art territory, multi-disciplinarity, multimedia), (aspects relatives to the studies of the observatory). It is addressed to professionals and institutions.
Website: to see above
“Paris City Passport”: this magazine from the Office de Tourisme of Paris lists all the venues of life and entertainment in Paris and offers price discounts (reduced price, free drink...). It is aimed at tourists.
Relationship to other networks: In the exchanges with other networks (U-fisc, RIF, Zone Franche, Art Factories, Autres lieux, Trans Europ Halles), actes if fosters a collective thinking around the principal issues of the cultural sector. The relationship to the U-fisc department (this is a pun without meaning: Federal Union of Intervention of the Cultural Structures) shows the political engagement of actes if in professional negotiations. This trade union made up of federations and national networks, aims at defending cultural network’ activities and interests, and works on the question of the statutes, the taxation and employment (in particular those of temporary staff and government-helped contract for young people: “emplois jeunes”).
Professional Meetings: In order to share experiences and to defend inherent problems to the cultural “third-sector” and thus to the venues of actes if, actes if takes part in institutional meetings - Meetings of Nantes, Ufisc, (a lobby for cultural networks) - or independent meetings organized by networks (Zone Franche, Trans Europ Halles)
Support for artistic collaborations
In order to support artistic creation and the assembly of artistic projects jointly on the initiative of several venues of the network, actes if co-produces the projects created between several venues by a financial assistance. The project must imply at least three structures of the network including two registered in the artistic step of creation. The support for the helped projects is validated out of AG.
Evolution of engagements of the network )
If the exchanges of information and the mutualisation of means/tools are the first missions of actes if, the network decides today to stick more to the construction of meaning, with a more philosophical approach.
This engagement results in new missions:
support artistic collaborations between its members, political implication (claim compared
to intermittent, collaboration with the UFISC, trade union),
position by ad-hoc studies carried out within the framework of the observatory,
support for artistic collaborations between the places,
financial assistance in the case of specific financial problems.
report at the institutions actes if is an association supported by the minister (DRAC-Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles) and the county council (Conseil Régional). It profits from a positive image near these institutions, its action is largely encouraged, in particular thanks to the creation of webmaster position. Venues may have problems of recognition with the institutions and this network which brings legitimacy plays also a part of lobby.
Actes-If members are : )
Ars Longa, Atelier du Plateau, Bouquin Affamé, Café Culturel, Collectif 12, Confluences, Conteners (nomad project), Echangeur, File 7, Gare au théâtre, Glaz’art, Guinguette Pirate, Hublot, La Maison d’Europe et d’Orient, La Pêche, Mains d’œuvres, Samovar, Tamanoir