– Will there be a next “86” IFFU?
– There might, or might not.
This question synthesizes this year’s results, the plans for the next one and our wish for Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas. We’ve got two news. The bad one – there is no simple answer to that question. The good one – there is a chance. So let us dispel any anxiety, get a closure and shed some light on the “86”s future.
#1. PERMANENT FUNDING
The festival’s yearly estimated budget is $ 100,000. Every time, we have to raise this money from scratch. And every time there is no guarantee that this money will be secured. For the 5th festival edition “86: Something in the air,” the fundraising activities lasted about 6 months. During this period, four qualified people were working full time on grant applications, a crowdfunding campaign and negotiations with partners. Before, these people were working on a volunteer or semi-volunteer basis. This is no longer possible.
The lack of permanent funding creates a vicious circle: the festival needs money to search for money. An annual guaranteed (constant) share of the budget would be able to disrupt this circle. The larger this share, the smaller (and thus cheaper) the fundraising.
30% of the budget covered ($ 30,000) would allow a healthy festival organization cycle. The minimum sum needed for that is 15% of the budget ($ 15,000).
#2. FUNDING SOURCES
In developed countries, festivals like “86” get targeted funding from such sources: a local budget, regional or federal budgets, international funds, private businesses. In the Ukrainian context, it still sounds unreal. The city of Slavutych has always provided “86” with solid administrative and resource support but we have never received any money from the local budget. Neither were we able to get through to the regional budget.
In 2016-2018, the Ukrainian State Film Agency offered the festival a modest financial support. It was sufficient to cover the costs for printed materials. In 2018, we won the notorious open call by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. This funding was supposed to cover 30% of the festival’s budget but the non-transparent procedure and missed deadlines of fund receipt caused the additional expenditure for the financial risks amortisation. This logically put the festival at risk.
For the festival to function normally, a transparent support from public institutions is needed – on the local, regional and national levels.
#3. AMOUNT OF FUNDING
From 2014 till 2018, the festival existed thanks to the support of the international organisations and their small, mostly unspecified grants. In 2018, we had 13 very diverse funding sources. Every one of them had its limitations on the money use, reporting and receipt timing which lead to an intolerable administrative burden. The festival needs accountants and grant-managers staff in order to bring these funds and financial reporting to a common denominator. However, like in the case with fundraising, the grants do not cover administrative costs.
A combination of several big- and middle-size grants, mostly targeted on cultural production and not requiring any additional justification, would be the best option from an administrative point of view.
#4. THE TEAM
The festival production in a small city is a complex process both from the technical and logistical point of view and, therefore, it requires many professional workers. In Ukraine, such professionals with appropriate qualifications and relevant experience are rare and thus building a project team is always a challenge. The festival has been held for five years thanks to the dedicated work of skilled and deeply ideological people. But constant stress, irregular working hours and financial risks lead to the fact that the most skilled and dedicated people suffer from the burn-out more than others. And it is extremely hard to find somebody to replace them. Apart from that, the festival suffers from a chronic shortage of people “on the spot” in Slavutych.
These personnel issues can be resolved by outsourcing and partnership with businesses sharing the same values: an advertising agency, technical contractors and logistics operators. Training programmes and a system of motivation for Slavutychers are also needed.
The newly created Ukrainian Cultural Foundation provides perspective to solve some of the above-mentioned problems. This specialized state-owned institution offers funding opportunities for cultural projects through a competitive selection process. But even this well-respected public body has issues with planning. The new open call for projects was supposed to be announced in December 2018 but for unknown reasons, it was postponed to January.
So we are waiting for news and would like to sincerely thank everyone who asks about, cares and believes in “86”. We deeply appreciate your unprecedented trust and solidarity in the Ministry of Culture case. We are happy that the festival could gather such a powerful community of adequate people. At the risk of sounding pathetic, we believe that this year’s main achievement is you.
Our wishlist for the next year:
1) Transparent and consistent activity of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation;
2) Substantial increase of the Ukrainian State Film Agency’s support to the “86” IFFU;
3) Real decentralization that would allow using costs on a local level;
4) Strengths and inspiration for the “86” team to continue the work;
5) To find people and partners sharing the same values that would help us to organize the festival.
We would also like to see you more than once per year. So we invite you to follow the side projects of “86”:
– 86PROKAT film distribution and its releases in the cinemas of Ukraine;
– Phalanstery Films broadcasting company and the full-length film debut by Nadia Parfan “Heat singers” that will be premiered in 2019.
We wish you happy holidays, catharsises, intimacy and something in the air in the New Year!
Photo by Alexandra Tkachova