AIDA is a democratically structured organization and democracies thrive on information. A democratic organization must be an informed and educated organization. If the vote is to
mean anything, the voter must be informed about what he or she is voting on. This applies to all areas of information, including financial. Hence, AIDA believes that all people associated
with this organization should have access to information that will help them understand how the organization acquires funds, what it does with those funds, and how its financial actions affect the
world outside of itself. Since AIDA, as a business organization, is governed by all of the Voting Members, each Voting Member has a right to all financial information that bears upon his or her
Financial information is not only pertinent to the Professional Members that compose the Association but also to the Patron Members and to prospective Professional and Patron Members. How AIDA conducts business should be a matter of public record, accessible and critically evaluated by anyone interested in its conduct. Therefore, AIDA provides informational access to financial information; actual access lies only within the power of the Key Facilitators, a power granted to them by the Voting Members of the Association itself. Only those empowered to handle funds will be able to access funds, but the information is accessible to anyone who is interested in the Association.
Traditional theater companies or groups are formed hierarchically and independently of each other, and they compete with each other for available funds, including a share of the patron market. Since companies compete for funding, they would consider it wise not to share financial information with anyone, not even with most of those who comprise the company. Sometimes these independent theater companies will form "alliances" or leagues whereby some cooperation is fostered between organizations and, optimally, a balance is struck in the competition for funds whereby each organization will accept its position in the overall hierarchy. But it is, importantly, within an overall hierarchy that this cooperation exists. Though there might exist a tacit agreement to "share the funds", some companies will garner the lion's share, leaving other companies to settle for less. The companies with more funds will tend provide better surroundings (e.g. comfortable theaters) and to produce better shows (e.g. costly staging). Better surroundings and better shows will tend to draw more patrons and more outside funding. The overall hierarchy, though indirect, is in place.
In a democratically structured business such as AIDA, competition lies not in the arena of money but in the arena of fulfillment. Though money is necessary for the democratic business to operate, it is subordinate to fulfillment. Just as capitalism has served to free us from the limitations of the physical world and allowed us to control aspects of that world for our own fulfillment, democratically structured business frees us from the limitations of money and allows us to control aspects of money for our own fulfillment. If we all do our share (fees and recruitment), then the money will be there for us to use for our own and each other's fulfillment. When the value of money in hierarchy is replaced by the value of fulfillment in democracy, then the need to protect financial information dissipates and the need to inform others increases. All governing members require financial information in order to make informed proposals and decisions. All patron members, being investors in the organization, should have access to financial information so they could see where their money is going and how it is being used so they can determine for themselves whether or not they want to be supportive of the organization. All prospective Professional and Patron Members should have access to financial information so they can critically evaluate the Association before they decide to join.
In AIDA, competition exists between Professional Members within the Association, not between organizations. It is a competition for fulfillment. Professional Members want to do what their passions and talents dictate. Patron Members want to attend plays that interest and captivate them. Money is a means of achieving fulfillment. When it is viewed as more than that, as in hierarchically organized business where money is the "bottom line", then fulfillment (and mental health in general) is dependent upon money. But when money is there for people to use, then it becomes subordinate to other concerns. If we all do our share (fees and recruitment), then the money will be there, and we, as professionals, will be free to pursue fulfillment by realizing our passions and expressing our talents. And we, as patrons, will be able to realize our needs by attending more good plays and seeing a greater variety of plays, all at a much lower cost to us.
In AIDA, cooperation replaces competition as the most important organizing principle. Professional Members must cooperate with each other. The democratic structure of the Association implies cooperation. But Professional Members must also cooperate with Patron Members in order to achieve Patron Member fulfillment. AIDA believes that a democratic structure that provides information on all levels of business to all those who participate in the business, even patron and prospective members, is important for the growth and health of the business. Hence, financial information is accessible to all those interested and involved in the business.
The threat of sharing financial information in hierarchically structured, money-oriented organizations exists because the organizations have to "protect their turf". The threat of sharing financial information in a democratically structured organization doesn't exist. In fact, sharing financial information becomes a necessity. Without it, governing members are uninformed and ineffective, and patron and prospective members are less inclined to support the organization.
AIDA does not seek to compete in the hierarchical arena, though it realizes that such competition must occur. In recruiting members, AIDA will necessarily develop a financial base that will affect the hierarchical arena. If successful, AIDA will attract some patron members away from currently existing companies. But such an attraction should not concern those companies. In fact, such an attraction could only benefit those companies. The loss in patron revenue could be made up in Association funding for productions and the patronage for those productions would be already built into the structure. Struggling professional and community theater groups stand to benefit greatly from the Association. Not only will funding be centralized and easily accessible for the professional theaters, but it will also serve to pay the professionals a decent wage and to pay the amateur, depending upon the producer of the project. AIDA is designed to be a win/win situation, and the transition from hierarchy to democracy need not be difficult. It is a transition from a watchful trust in others to a strong trust in oneself in relation to others. In order to build this trust, sharing of information is crucial.
AIDA recognizes not only the benefits of sharing information, including financial information, but it also recognizes the hazards involved in such sharing. Funds must be protected from theft and misuse. Some trust must be placed in the hands of the Facilitators. But such trust should be backed by agreement and civil law. Banks must provide a means for information access that bars actual actual access, and this means must be secure.