What sets co-operatives apart from other kinds of companies is that they are owned by their members, who are usually either the workers themselves, the customers, other companies, or similar parties whose interest in the co-operative is not to extract value, but to work together with other members to increase the value for everyone, not for investors.
We are currently a Limited Liability Company, a structure often taken by companies structured similar to legal co-operatives as an alternative to “Cooperative Corporations”, which are a very specific kind of entity with specific restrictions and requirements. Our Operating Agreement defines us closer to a Worker Cooperative right now, where the members are the developers of Banchan itself. This is an initial structure to get the company off the ground until we can afford to go through the legal process of introducing artists as an official member class with actual ownership.
Banchan only has a single class of member right now: Worker-members, which are the developers of the platform itself. Once we have the resources to do so, we will introduce a second class of members, Artist-members, who will be able to gain membership through their participation on the platform.
The specifics haven’t been determined yet, but this is likely to be a combination of a minimum number of sales volume, with allowances that take into account other kinds of contributions, such as volunteering artwork and designs for the platform itself, doing community work for the platform, and so on.
Even though only a couple of developers are the “official” members of the company, we already have a set of committees open to membership from the larger community meant to bootstrap governance, and to help set the parameters that we eventually want for the full platform configuration.
There are currently three committees: the Technical Committee, the Artist Advisory Committee, and the Community Committee.
Artist Advisory Committee
This is a committee of artist who are working with Banchan to help decide what the product should be, and how to best fulfill the needs of artists as a community. They are representatives of Banchan’s artist community at large, and meet on a regular basis.
When the time comes, the Artist Advisory Committee will be central to defining what Artist Membership will look like in Banchan: what the requirements for becoming a member are, what the benefits are, and how decisions will be made by the artist member community in Banchan.
Membership in the Artist Advisory Committee is currently comprised of a handful of working artists who have been involved in advising the project from early on, and anyone can join as long as the Committee approves them joining.
While specific technical decisions are the domain of the Technical Committee, the Artist Advisory Committee works together with the Technical Committee to help define the product, and to agree on what will work, versus what they might initially want.
The technical committee is made up of the developers and designers of Banchan, who work together to make the Artist Advisory Committee’s vision a reality. They are responsible for development and maintenance of the product’s code, design, and server systems, making sure it’s the best platform it can be and that it provides the experience artists want to see.
Members of the Committee are contributors to Banchan’s Open Source Platform. Any contributors may join, subject to the Committee’s consent, typically after significant contributions to the project.
The final committee is the Community Committee, responsible for the health and safety of the overall Banchan community, both on the Banchan platform itself, and in our external community channels like our Discord server.
They are responsible for defining and enforcing the Code of Conduct and, like the other committees, are comprised of members of the community willing to share their time for the sake of the collective.