Question : Choose one of what you believe to be the highest priorities and consider the stages you might go through using the consulting process to solve the problems at hand.
Waterton Performing Arts Festival
Waterton Performing Arts Festival The Warterton Performing Arts Festival (WPAF) is a long and well-established charity that has been in operation for over 50 years. Culminating annually in a series of stage-based performances (including drama, speech, singing, and dance), it offers individuals and groups the opportunity to participate in a competition and be professionally assessed by world-class judges. The charity is one of a large group of such festivals based in the UK and Europe and is struggling to keep its head above water. Annually it has some 2,500 entries, distributed among some very different sections ranging from the very traditional - such as hymn singing - to the more contemporary creative dance.
The last seven years have been difficult for the Festival. It is continually running at a loss and is only able to continue with the financial support of a few individuals who have an emotional and historical attachment to WPAF.
One of WPAF's more enlightened officers, Lucy, has taken the decision to use some of the monies donated to the Festival to seek some help in putting the Festival back on a better footing. In particular, she wants the organization to be more in-line with the requirements of younger people, and open to new developments, for example. She knows that the prime benefactor will not continue to donate as he has done in the past without some major improvements.
She calls you in and outlines the many problems facing WPAF:
Overtime ‘sales' (comprising entry fees and admissions to the events) are slowly decreasing. Not all sections are affected; ‘dance' is quite buoyant, but the overall downward trend is clear.
Attempts have been made to cut costs - such as altering the venues and reducing judging costs (though the latter of which is fixed by the Festival's governing body). The biggest single remaining cost, however, is stationery; the Festival has always used the same printer which can work with the quirkiness of the section secretaries, some of whom have only a rudimentary knowledge of the use of computers.
The main benefactor tends to impose his own views on the WPAF based on his own historical perspective (he took part as a child).
The age profile of the key people is quite old and does not reflect the target audiences that the Festival serves. Each of the eight sections is led by someone over 60. Despite numerous attempts, there is no succession planning as the Festival is run by a small number of stalwarts and no one is coming forward to help or replace them.
As all are volunteers, and without anyone in real authority, it is difficult to make the group behave as a team. Each section secretary runs his or her own show and only matters of common interest, like health and safety; require them to turn to the central group for help.
Apart from a recently introduced website created by a student from a local university, IT systems are non-existent. Attempts have been made to introduce automated systems but not enough of the participants are using the system for this to be valuable.
The chairman is world-class in his field (opera singing) but he knows little or nothing of running an organization. His idea of chairing a meeting is to ask the various secretaries to read out prepared statements. There is no discussion and decisions are taken unilaterally causing regular dissention in the group.
With time, there are more and more demands placed on the WPAF by its governing body (the UKIGF). WPAF has to be a member the UKIGF to protect itself in many legal ways, as the requirements of health and safety, child safeguarding and care of the disabled increase annually. The body, which is international, imposes its own rules about the number of participants per section, choice of adjudicators etc. The links with UKIGF and coordination of the group are dealt with by one over-stretched lady.
The treasurer, James, who has been in post for over 20 years, also works for five other charities and has little time to devote to the WPAF. He is perceived by some to cut corners. James has always considered that producing an accurate picture of which sections are or are not profitable would be ‘divisive'.
WPAF as a charity is registered with the Charities Commission though little is understood in the group of what requirements that imposes on WPAF.
There have been some disagreements between the sections about a range of topics, such as contestants entering more than one class within a section. Guidelines are very informal.
The Festival is suffering from local and regional competition. Slowly some of the sections are being eroded as they are seen as dated, even elitist.