How much?

Writing a project proposal

09 October 2014

On my to-do list: writing a project proposal for an exchange between Malawi, South Africa and The Netherlands.

As usual I started with the budget. I never used to like working with numbers, but I enjoy playing with it now. I am lucky that I learned how to make good budgets when I worked for Music Mayday. I do it in a spreadsheet with formulas, so I can change the amount of people traveling, increase or decrease the per diems (daily allowances) or extend the stay without having to change everything because it does it ‘automatically’. At the end of the day, the budget determines what is and what is not possible. Flying from Amsterdam to Malawi is quite pricy and almost impossible to get funded. Administration, salaries or office costs are also hard to get money for, so it does need some serious investment from MYA’s side. It will be a challenge to get the majority of the costs covered, but I am willing to invest my time to give it a try. That is why I start now, 11 months before the project I have in mind takes place. An example of a budget can be found below.

When working on a project, I use the project management method. This means I work in phases; it starts with the initiative phase. Working in phases helps to determine the duration and staff costs, to monitor progress, to make adjustments along the way and in this case, to find partners and inform possible partners about MYA’s plans so there are no nasty surprises at a later stage. Can you imagine that I get carried away and plan an ambitious project, but the partners I want to work with do not agree..? Or didn’t know? That would be a disaster. To make sure that everybody I’d like to get involved in this project knows what the project entails, I will write a short project proposal (max 8 pages) and send it to everybody so they can agree, disagree or suggest alternatives. The project proposal works as a so-called ‘decision document’ – when all parties agrees with the concept, budget, strategy etc. it turns into a project contract. So I will not take any further steps until my desired partners in Malawi agree. I find that very hard, because I do not like waiting; when I start something, I find it hard to be slowed down, but that would be a silly mistake, as the project will only succeed if my desired partners like the concept and agree to go ahead.

I have to be patient. Not my best characteristic… I’m fast and very often too fast. Which is why I love working with Jorien; she is always the one who takes a step back, looks at the full picture and goes back to the mission & vision. She is very strategic, a thinker, who sees long-term goals and directs all efforts toward achieving those strategic goals. Jorien will act on short-term problems, but will not attack them rashly. I do! I am quick, more a firefighter, problem solver and doer. I might be focused more on achieving near-term goals, such as getting a product released on time, with high quality, and within budget. We both keep the long-term strategy and goals in mind and we both can act fast when needed, but I do need Jorien when I have wild plans and want to implement them immediately. It is great to work with her as together we can make things work.

So I better start writing my proposal now. About giving lectures at Lilongwe University College of Law and Professional Studies, a conference with workshops and master classes with Music Crossroads, artist collaborations with musicians/bands from South Africa, Netherlands and Malawi, and hopefully more panels in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University at Lake of Stars. All dreams for now, but I intend to make these dreams come true.

These are just the travel costs for 3 people from The Netherlands. What needs to be added is

-      The hours I will put it into it in the next 10 months;

-      Travel expenses for musicians from The Netherlands and from South Africa including accommodation and allowances;

-      Local transport within Malawi (renting bus + driver to go to Lake of Stars, taxis to/from the university college, to/from Music Crossroads, etc.);

-      Renting space for conferences & workshops;

-      Workshop equipment (computer, projector, pens & paper);

-      Catering for the conferences/workshops (water, coffee, lunch);

-      Entertainment (live music? After the conference/workshops);

-      Print costs;

-      Marketing (hiring someone with good marketing skills doesn’t come cheap);

-      Studio rental with sound engineer and mastering;

-      Payment for workshop facilitators and speakers.

-      Etc. etc.