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RECHARGE World in Words: Participation
Participation is one of the key components of RECHARGE’s practices aimed at involving communities in defining the most viable and valuable business model for a specific institution.
Participation refers to taking an active part in a project, an activity, or a process in which the participants’ contribution has an influence on the process and/or the outcomes of the entire endeavour. Participation can take a form of various levels of involvement — from small short-term contributions, through larger involvement over a longer period of time, to long-standing relationships between the institution and a given group or an individual. It can also provide various forms of involvement: co-ownership, co-governance, co-creation, collaboration.
In the context of the RECHARGE, the definition of participation takes up many forms and nuances, according to the activities carried out to put it in place. This is why we like to talk about participatory approaches, referring to a set of methods, strategies, and principles that actively involve and engage relevant stakeholders in the planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation processes of the project. These approaches emphasise the importance of inclusivity, collaboration, and empowerment, aiming to ensure that all stakeholders have a voice, contribute their knowledge and perspectives, and have a sense of ownership and responsibility over the project.
Collaboration and co-creation are two of the most used participatory processes, in which stakeholders actively contribute to the design, development, and implementation of activities. Within RECHARGE, Collaboration refers generally to the cooperative and participatory process of working together among various stakeholders, and emphasises inclusivity, transparency, and active involvement of all participants. It fosters a culture of cooperation and joint effort, where individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise come together.
Co-creation takes collaboration a step further and involves engaging diverse stakeholders, including community members, organisations, experts, and other relevant parties, as equal partners in the creation and implementation of project outcomes.
Two other participatory practices that are key to the structure, sustainability and replicability of the business model architecture are Co-ownerhip and Co-governance. Co-ownership refers to sharing ownership and responsibility of an initiative and implies involvement in the decision-making process, funding, and benefits among partners, usually museums and institutions with public entities, private companies, foundations, communities and other stakeholders. It requires trust and transparency of operations, which are fundamental conditions to fuel the sustainability of cooperation, prioritising the common project over the interests of individual actors.
Co-governance refers to the involvement of participants in the decision-making processes regarding the regulation and accountability of the designed business models. Rather than having a hierarchical and centralised leadership structure, co-governance involves the inclusion of diverse perspectives and voices in the decision-making process: local community representatives, cultural experts, donors, volunteers, researchers, and others are actively involved in the institution's management.