Saturday, 12 June 2010

Planning for the future of commission4mission

commission4mission (c4m) has been undertaking a strategic review led by Helen Gheorgiou Gould to guide the development of the organisation over the next three to five years and beyond. We asked members to contribute to this process in March and April, we reviewed our internal situation and we have also done some external research on similar organisations.

The purpose of this document is to report back to members on this process at the Annual General Meeting in June 2010 and to propose a strategic plan for adoption at the meeting.


The vision and mission of c4m is:

To encourage the commissioning and placing of contemporary Christian Art in churches, as a means of fundraising for charities.

Its objectives are:

• To provide opportunities for churches to obtain and commission contemporary Christian Art for church buildings.
• To provide information, ideas and examples of contemporary Christian Art and its use/display within church settings; and
• To raise funds for charities through commissions and sales of contemporary Christian Art.

Our review has shown that:

Members have indicated that they strongly support our aims and objectives but there is a desire for greater interaction with one another, a broader range of exhibiting opportunities, and a wider regional focus.

c4m has been very successful in its first year and has generated over £9,000, more than £2,700 of which has been donated to charity. It has developed a membership base of around 30 and has run a considerable number of exhibitions and events. It has a strong presence on the internet. However this level of activity and growth is difficult to sustain without staff – all current administration and support is provided voluntarily by the secretary.

We have identified 11 other organisations working in a similar area in England. Some of these are performing a similar role in partnership with other dioceses, some are commercial, and some are purely providing information. There is a good deal of common ground and therefore some exciting opportunities for national partnerships.

We found that c4m’s unique contribution as an organisation is our:

• Focus on commissioning and brokering commissioning relationships.
• Focus on local/parish churches – which impacts on artists and the church at the grassroots.
• Link to and support from Chelmsford Diocese and diocesan leaders.
• Committed and growing membership.
• Charitable link, which encourages commissions.

We have some problems:

• We have limited human resources and they are currently provided mostly on a voluntary basis.
• We also have limited financial resources.
• Our current legal status will hamper growth and our ability to raise funds.
• We are also providing limited opportunities to members who are outside the East London area.
• There are other organisations doing similar things, some of whom have been going for longer.

But we also have some great opportunities:

• A good relationship with the Diocese of Chelmsford, and especially our Patron the Bishop of Barking, which is a strength and gives us stability.
• We are evolving an interesting role in the commissioning arena and we can develop as an organisation that supports and encourages commissioning and Christian art at the grassroots.
• There are possibilities of collaboration between other similar organisations and dioceses.

We are therefore proposing the following strategy to address three key areas: Governance and Management, Membership, and Development.

Governance and Management

The review of the organisation has shown that:

• C4M has generated over £9,000 in its first year of operation.
• It has broadly charitable aims, and raises money for charitable distribution.
• Legally it is required to register as a charity if it generates over £5,000 a year.
• We are allowed a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to make this transition.
• An alternative commercial operation is unlikely to be financially viable.
• Commercial opportunities can also be pursued in partnership with other organisations.
• The governing body (committee) is small and needs additional skills and members.
• The organisation is reliant on part-time volunteer support and needs paid support for administration and development activities.

We therefore propose to:

1. Register as a charity (by December 2010).

2. Strengthen governance: recruit 3-4 additional committee members who will act as trustees of the new charity, including a treasurer.

3. Approve a new governing document (if necessary).

4. Seek funding for a part-time administration and development post.


The members’ review has shown us that:

• Members strongly support our aims and objectives
• They join C4M to promote Christian art, artists and art in church and to meet others.
• They need exhibition opportunities, networking and interaction, and support as artists.
• Expanded regional focus – more events central London and Chelmsford region.
• They want more interaction with each other, better promotion among churches and within church structures, more professional approach to exhibiting, more guidance on commissioning, better marketing/publicity.

In response we propose to:

1. Establish 3 regional cells (East London, SE/SW London, Chelmsford) to organise local social and arts events, develop relationships with local churches/structures and commissioning opportunities.

2. Develop a range of member events over a 12-month timetable:

a. Small exhibitions organised by members which c4m promotes.
b. Showcase exhibitions to profile work of members (more professionally curated).
c. Exhibitions of artwork integrated into new venues (e.g. churches without art/commissioning history) as part of promotion of commissioning.
d. Social/skills development events – share skills, demos, church/gallery visits.


Our strategic review has shown that our unique strengths are:

• Focus on commissioning and brokering commissioning relationships.
• Focus on local/parish churches – impacts on artists and church at grassroots.
• Link to and support from Chelmsford Diocese and diocesan leaders.
• Charitable link, which encourages commissions.
• Idea to develop collaboration between other similar organisations and dioceses.

Therefore we propose:

1. Develop advocacy team of experts to promote and support commissioning: ‘good practice’, offer advice to commissioning bodies, and develop the skills and confidence of members to participate in commissioning.

2. Strengthen awareness and partnerships within the diocese – mailing to area deans, archdeacons, key committees and relevant diocesan officers; update in The Month;

3. Review charitable links: do we wish to widen the base of charities/causes we donate to, especially regionally?

4. Start dialogue and explore opportunities for collaboration with other similar organisations in England.

5. Develop marketing and promotions strategy (to include development of own mailing list, development of media contacts and coverage, cross-mailing with similar organisations.)

Strategic Development Timetable

Within 12 months

1. Agree and implement change in legal status (December 2010).
2. Strengthen governance structures (2-4 additional trustees?)
3. Establish3-4 regional cells and agree guidelines for how they will operate.
4. Appoint team of voluntary advocates for commissioning (with appropriate expertise).
5. Develop 12-month timetable of regular events and exhibitions (together with guidance on how members can self-organise).
6. Build relationships with similar organisations in England
7. Formalise resourcing arrangements with Diocese
8. Seek funding for development and admin support for 3 years
9. Sustain membership of about 40 members/supporters
10. Sustain and develop commissioning (in what way?)
11. Develop marketing and promotions (e.g. formal mailing list, key articles)
12. Strengthen awareness and partnerships within the diocese.

Within 2 years

1. Develop stronger administration and financial support systems.
2. Review and possibly expand membership and regional cells.
3. Develop strong partnership and collaboration with other similar organisations.
4. Increase membership to 60 paid members/supporters.
5. Develop Commissioning Guide with case studies (with churchart?)

5 years

1. 100 actively involved, enthusiastic and well connected members and supporters
2. Develop a supportive and engaged network of churches and Christian around a group of regional cells in SE England.
3. Develop national network of organisations supporting art in churches.
4. Develop online commissioning ‘portal’ – advice, examples, artists
5. To have strong and well established relationship with diocese, and other areas of Church of England, and ecumenical partnerships.