As soon as money is involved, the clearer these rules are the better to avoid misunderstandings and settle tax and payment issues.

Your rules may take the form of a legal document, or a written constitution, and there are several different formal and legally recognised structures which organisations can adopt or change to as they grow. Depending on the type of organisation you choose, you may also be able to limit your liability if the organisation goes bankrupt or is wound up.

A range of possible structures which a group could work under are set out in this section, together with some of the pros and cons of each option.

If you are considering setting up a studio or gallery space with a group of artists, you will probably find it easier – and reduce the chance of problems in the future – if you agree some rules or terms within which you will operate.  These can be as formal or informal as you like, but they should be written down so everyone knows their responsibilities.

Further information

Arts Council England has published a Model Constitution for Unincorporated Associations and Model memorandum and Articles of Association for charitable arts organisations. Both are available online fr …

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London Centre for Book Arts: a case study

Simon Goode is an artist who set up his own centre and workshop dedicated to book arts in 2012. Here he charts the journey of the London Centre for Book Arts, concentrating on starting the organisatio …

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Constitutions

A constitution is simply a document laying out and explaining the governing rules and aims of an organisation. It also explains the form of the organisation and the limts of its power. This is a list …

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Unincorporated Association

An unincorporated association is a legally recognised form of organisation, and the easiest to set up. It is formed of a number of individuals – who are each responsible for their own tax arrangements …

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Co-operative

This is a popular structure for community groups, as it shares the responsibility of running the group between members who all have equal rights and shares in the organisation. A co-operative is defin …

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Partnership

Unlike a limited company, a partnership has no legal existence distinct from the partners themselves. If one of the partners resigns, dies or goes bankrupt, the partnership must be dissolved – althoug …

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Charitable incorporated organisation

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, or CIO, is a new legal form for a charity, brought in by the 2011 Charities Act. A CIO: is an incorporated form of charity which is not a company only has to re …

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Community benefit society

Community benefit societies (BenComs) are incorporated industrial and provident societies (IPS) that conduct business for the benefit of their community. Profits are not distributed among members, or …

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Company

Companies are either limited by shares or by guarantee.  This is probably the most popular organisational setup for commercial organisations, but a company can also be set up for a social purpose …

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Charity

A charity is an organisation set up for exclusively charitable purposes, which carries out activities to achieve these purposes. A charity must be set up to help the public and not particular ind …

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