DOCU/CITIZEN as a way to support your favorite festival

05 February 2020

Docudays UA is establishing its DOCU/CITIZEN club of benefactors. Here, we are going to tell you what it is, how it’s going to work, and why you should support it.


At film screenings in Jihlava, we were once surprised to see rows of seats reserved for honorary DOC.MAN guests: who were they and how did they deserve this privilege? As it turned out, these were ordinary viewers who chose the festival as their symbolic home, and the reserved seats at screenings were just a fraction of the bonuses which festival organizers gave them to thank them for their support. For a €70 contribution, each DOC.MAN receives tickets to all the screenings, merchandize and invitations to the festival opening ceremony. They also know that their contributions support the publishing of special publications, the doc.revue online journal, and organization of educational projects.


We also wanted to keep in closer touch with our audience and give them a sense that they can feel at home at our festivals. So we are introducing the DOCU/CITIZEN club. As a part of the club, we are providing the opportunity to become a co-creator of the festival, and we are bringing together people who love and regularly attend Docudays UA. Together, we will make the festival more interesting, deeper, more accessible, introduce new trends, and have a better idea whom we are doing it for.


Darya Averchenko, the director of our Communication Department, speaks about the functioning of DOCU/CITIZEN and about the festival needs that will be covered from the collected funding.


Why does the festival need a friends club?


We often have to compete for a good film with other festivals, negotiate with agents for screening rights, ship copies, translate and make Ukrainian subtitles, rent cinemas, additional equipment, invite moderators for discussions, bring the authors to Ukraine and perform many other expensive and time-consuming operations so the audience could get a full experience of each screening. And we believe it appropriate to offer the people who understand the complexity of the process and value the result to contribute financially and creatively. In the West, the culture of private donations to such initiatives is widespread. This is considered to be prestigious, and we would really like to achieve the same perspective here in Ukraine.


For now, we offer two options: DOCU/CITIZEN (UAH 2,500) and Honorary Citizen (UAH 25,000). The price of membership for a Citizen is practically equal to the price of screenings that can be attended with a pass and of our merchandise included in the package. We also offer nice bonuses to our Citizens, such as invitations to the closing party or seats in a dedicated row. The Honorary Citizen offer also includes invitations to ceremonies and parties which are only accessible to our partners and funders of many years, and a lot of other exclusive perks.


Why should viewers join the club?


It is a great opportunity to find out how the festival works, meet the team who create it, participate in the development of the cultural initiative. Finally, it’s an opportunity to find new friends and like-minded people who share your values, background and can tell a lot of interesting stories. We believe that similarities attract.


Projects of like-minded communities exist at various festivals in the world: DOC.MAN in Jihlava, FRIENDS OF IDFA and CLUB IDFA at IDFA. Festivals are not the only ones who look for their support groups. It’s a very popular practice among museums: for instance, there are friends associations for MoMA in New York and for Tate Modern in London. Similar cases already exist even in Ukraine – the Kyiv Museum of Art also gathers its friends based on the principle of membership contributions. And in the neighboring Belarus, there is a documentary film festival funded exclusively from audience donations.


How is the club conceptually different from the more usual institution of individual donorship?


Our main donors are international organizations. They believe that if Ukrainian citizens need this festival, then they should also financially support it. It’s a universal, understandable indicator of support.


Every club membership is individual and targeted to private individuals. But if an organization or legal entity wants to join our club, we are open to proposals. We will be happy to discuss them on a case-by-case basis. Our announcement lists a contact which you can address with any questions.


How is the club actually going to work in practice?


The membership lasts for a year, but the main activities will take place during the festival week. We will reserve a pass for our screenings and organize a gift distribution point for Docudays UA citizens at the festival centre. When the festival ends, we will meet with the honorary club members for a coffee and discuss what was good, what can be improved and how, and we will watch one of the team’s favorite films together. If these meetings are productive, we will repeat them throughout the year.


How will the club donations be used?


We plan to spend the donations we receive on festival projects, to make the festival even better, more innovative, more inclusive. We will gladly consult our Citizens regarding these questions. And at the end of the year, we will publish a financial report which will reflect our audience’s donations and their positive contribution to the work of Docudays UA.


Initiatives similar to DOCU/CITIZEN:


The National Museum of Art in Kyiv introduced the Lions of the Museum donorship programme in 2012. It offers three types of membership: “responsible lion” (UAH 10,000), “committed lion” (UAH 50,000), and “corporate lion” (UAH 100,000). The “lions” have opportunities to attend closed tours, lectures and meetings of the friends of the museum. In 2018, the museum raised 1.536 million hryvnias thanks to this programme.


The International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) offers its “friends” to help the festival’s initiatives aimed at supporting the new generation of film artists: the IDFA Award for Best First Appearance and the IDFAcademy Summer School. For this support, the donors can receive tickets to special screenings for “friends,” attend the graduation screenings of the Summer School, and be the first to access the IDFA Program Magazine.


Members of the Tate Modern Gallery in London, the most highly attended art museum in the capital of the UK, pay £78 a year to visit exhibitions free of charge and on a priority basis, to access members’ lounge zones, and to have priority in attending special events, lectures and meetings. Another nice bonus are discounts at the museum store.


The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) offers its audience to join several associations of “friends” of the museum. They depend on the preferences of each visitor: some are interested in modern art, some are inspired by educational programmes or architecture and design. Members of these associations, in addition to an extended programme and targeted events, get an opportunity to  use a separate museum entrance, visit the museum on a special schedule, and participate in closed pre-shows. The membership costs from $800 (Junior Association) to $25,000 (Board of Directors).


The conversation was held by Inna Pravdenko.

25 – 
April 2022