nolalaughI’m going to ask you to be my friend.

This isn’t about whether the use of “friend” on online social networks is appropriate. Neither is it a heart-warming, tear-brimming story about one of my mates, how fabulous they are (though I have a few stories like that to tell) and how I’d like you to be one of them.

It’s about a specific use of the term “Friend” as used by arts organisations to mean someone who gives regular financial support in return for the value they get from that organisation.

As I become more comfortable with being a Social Artist, I’m offering my own version. So I got thinking about value and of course I asked people to help me out. I set up a survey to ask people what they would get if they had £5, £10, £20 or £50 and they came back with the following answers:

For a Fiver
Flowers for the missus; A trip on the Cardiff Waterbus; A trashy magazine and a packet of starmix; Comics from the bargain bin;
iTunes; Take-away for lunch; Either a beer with a friend or dessert with a friend; a magazine or book; A really really good ice cream: at a 1950s ice cream parlour in Broadstairs overlooking the sea – Morelli’s is the one ; Go to Hawkins Bazaar. Enjoy!

For a Tenner
A “push the boat out” bottle of wine i.e. one that’s more than a Fiver;
An edition, or back edition of Special ten – Ultimate goodness ; A couple of good steaks; New comics; Beer, supermarket special offer most likely; Books from Oxfam; Pack of smokes and a beer with a friend; new knickers; Your favourite trash author has published a new book. You pretend to your friends you don’t read this stuff. You can wait, as you usually do, for the cheap paperback edition to appear on Amazon or a second hand copy from Abe Books. Or, you can splurge £9.99 on the hardback, discounted, offer at your local bookshop. You can walk in and buy it. Yes!; Fish and chips for two and cups of tea on the beach at Whitstable in the winter.

For £20
A bottle of single malt (you have to wait for them to come on special); Cheap bottle of Moet rose – usually on offer in Tesco, owner of all land; A bottle of wine and ingredients for dinner for my boyfriend; A mix of comics, old and new; Cinema tickets for two, sweets with the change; Doctor Who DVDs; Dinner with a friend;
241 cocktails with friends in cardiff (wouldn’t get much for £20 in london); Spend it on flowers – from Steve at Chapel Market, near Angel – do a deal you can get lots for £20; Look at Moleskine notebooks. Go on, you know you want to.

For £50
Dinner; Lunch, or dinner in my FAVE cantonese in the UK ever in ever of historian style ever –; Taking my boyfriend out for dinner; Big comics (or graphic novels, as they’re known); Meal for two, out at restaurant; Stick it in an ISA! If that’s not available, solar powered electro-gubbins; New sex toy to be used…..with a friend!; a new frock; Take 4 friends to the movies in Leicester Square; or the poshest cinema in your area and buy them popcorn. Ace!; Go to your local railway station. Tell them you’ve got £50. Say “A cheap day day return to somewhere nice please. Where can I go?”

Now obviously this represents a wide variety of tastes and geographies as well as some clear preferences based on gender, but it gives you a pretty good idea. So, I’m offering the same rates for regular donations each month – maybe you see me as “comics from the bargain bin, a take-away lunch or a really good ice cream” once a month – in which case you’d go for the £5 option. Or, at the other end, maybe to you I am “solar powered electro-gubbins, a cheap day-return to a mystery destination or… a new frock” – then I’ll put you down for £50pm. See?

But that’s not all. I’m not just asking for cash because you think I’m like an ice cream (?) I’m offering the following benefits in return for four levels of monthly payment.

£5 – a link and a public thank you on the social networking site of your choice, plus the warm glow of knowing that you’re supporting Social Art. Oh, and acknowledgement when I see you next – shoulder squeeze for the gals, manly shoulder punch for the guys.

£10 – as £5 PLUS a postcard from me saying thank you and an invitation to an annual party for other tenner friends

£20 – as £10 PLUS a postcard-sized piece of original art from me twice a year and an invitation to a special summer picnic and a mid-winter feast

£50 – as £20 PLUS a copy of Tuttle Chronicles – a new quarterly publication for such special friends and a quarterly meetup with sparkling conversation.

I’ve made links to recurring payment plans via PayPal.
£5 per month
£10 per month
£20 per month
£50 per month

UK friends – paying by standing order avoids paypal fees – e-mail me and I’ll send you the bank details.

If you’re going for anything higher than £10 I’ll need a postal address for you to send you goodies.

PS thanks very much to Jon; @chkn; Kathryn; Pete; @tookiebunten; edent; WankerGirl; lynsey; and Brian for their ideas

PPS if you’re not my “friend” you can still be my “friend” and you can definitely still be my friend.

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