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Starting a Group

Start a group The arts is a wonderful way of bringing people together. A common interest often provides enough of an impetus to make people with a shared vision want to meet and work together and so set up a group to facilitate this.

It may be that you already have a group in place, or that you are thinking of setting one up, either way it is worth checking that you are doing things correctly. It's not something to get hung up about, but ensuring that you are complying with legislation, following good practice and putting in a simple structure which supports the way the group operates and runs its finances can ensure there are fewer headaches and the potential for recriminations further down the line.

It may be that something that was a simple interest 'thing' has grown – so that a review of how you are operating might be a timely thing to do. But don’t forget that you get together to have fun – enjoy yourselves – so don’t get to hung up on it all.

At Celebrate North Yorkshire we decided not to re-invent the wheel but to direct you on to expert support and advice where it exists. The Voluntary Arts England website provides excellent guidance on every aspect of the Voluntary Arts sector. If you go to click this link to the Voluntary Arts England website you will see running your group in the pink menu on the left hand side. This general good practice information is designed to answer the most common questions you will have when setting up and running a voluntary arts group.

One of the benefits of running an amateur arts group is that people have 'day' jobs where they have to deal with many of these areas as a matter of course.

But we thought we’d pose a few questions to get you thinking:
  • Is it clear what the aims of the group are?
  • Have you got 'officers' in place who understand and full-fill their roles?
  • Are there opportunities for other people to offer their services?
  • Are there clear channels of communication?
  • Do you know how to attract new members?
  • Do you look after people when they join?
  • Are you making the most of the skills and knowledge of your members to save you re-inventing the wheel?
  • Are you avoiding cliques – which can be off putting to new comers.
  • Have you found ways of keeping in touch with the members? We know it’s difficult getting people to volunteer to help – but if they know what is to do then they may be more inclined to get involved.
  • Have you got any 'gatekeepers'? Sometimes the contact person can be overwhelmed with 'stuff' that comes in so sits on it. Make sure there is back up and help, or clear channels for disseminating information.
Have you looked at what legislation you need to comply with?
  • Licensing, health and safety, electrical equipment testing
  • Are you properly insured?
  • Are you carrying out risk assessments when you need to?
  • Do you employ people – and have you got the correct procedures in place [everything from job descriptions, payments, line management]
  • Is anyone in a role or position where it may be sensible to get them CRB checked
  • Do you have policies in place such as equal opportunities and diversity?
  • Where children are involved have you policies and procedures in place that protect both them and any adults coming in contact with them?
  • How do you deal with money? Have you set up procedure that follow good practice and protect the group and any individuals involved?
  • Buildings require a lot of care and maintenance. They may need a licence, special insurance and need to be compliant with access and fire legislation.
  • How do you let people know, where you are and what you are doing?
  • Do you use the media, this website, and other marketing tools?
There are plenty of people who you can turn to for help and advice so don't get overwhelmed by all this. People– we've tried to list as many as we can in both the links sections and under various headings in the Support Section.

Keep up the good work and keep having fun!