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FAQs

What are the origins of What About Us?

 

In 2015 Stephen Byrne and Finola Harrington founded Ripplezoo. The original idea was to use social media to promote positive messaging to a younger audience who do not traditionally watch TV or read newspapers, our Children.

Ripplezoo focuses on issues such as climate change, the environment, the importance of peace initiatives, refugee persecution, promoting education and more. Because Ripplezoo supports Human Rights it was barred from becoming a Charity in Ireland so instead was established as a Not-For-Profit Trust.

All Ripplezoo costs and overheads are borne by the Founders.

As Ripplezoo evolved it became more involved in physical projects. These include:

  • Organizing volunteer teams together to clean up beaches and nature walks.
  • Bringing volunteers to Cameroon in 2018 and 2019, volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and worked in hospitals, schools, and orphanage projects. Our annual “container to Cameroon” has shipped over €2 million of donated medical supplies, hospital equipment, computers, beds, and prescription drugs, and is helping to support some of the poorest people in the world.
  • School Programs. We have volunteers going into schools and building awareness programs, primarily with school going teenagers.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. We are linking successful businesses with disadvantaged initiatives that need management expertise, resources, and funding. Several initiatives in Israel and Palestine are currently under development.

 

What are the connections between Ireland and Israel/Palestine?

 

Ripplezoo “fact-finding trips” to Israel & Palestine in 2018 and 2019 introduced the team to several local organizations and initiatives, all focused on building positive relationships between the Israeli and Palestinian people, despite significant political, social, and cultural challenges.

We met so many inspiring people who have dedicated their lives to putting peace and love ahead of war and hate, and yet their voices are not often heard, certainly not on the International stage.

Parallels were drawn between the conflict in Ireland and the local Israel/Palestine conflict. There was a strong feeling in the team that the progress in Northern Ireland could perhaps contribute to helping the Israel/Palestine communities to heal, and in that moment What About Us was born      

 

Where did the idea for the Musical come from?

 

Music is the language of love that has no boundaries, no barriers, and no walls. Through music people can connect without the baggage of history, identity, and societal limitations.

The team then set out its ambitions and has established extremely high bars:

  • Develop a protest Musical that is of the highest professional standard and entertainment value, capable of touring the world and inspiring change – a love story.
  • In inspiring change, the Musical needs to challenge the status quo and confront some of the big issues facing the world today such as climate change, war, protection for the environment and corrupt leadership.
  • In parallel to the launch of the musical in 2022, a novel on which the musical is based will be published, a book chronicling the journey of the musical from concept to premiere published and a docufilm following participating young musicians and singers released. These 4 separate though connected initiatives should enable What About Us to make a lot of noise in Q4 2022 and hopefully help to contribute to a better world.
  • Helping to create a What About Us movement, giving young people a voice, a platform through our website and social media channels, promoting awareness in the Schools Program and encouraging businesses to contribute to positive initiatives.

 

What were the first steps in establishing What About Us?

 

The first step was to assemble a team with business and creative expertise & ability capable of delivering on the ambitious goals. The founder team includes Stephen Byrne, Eddie Evans, Julie Hamilton, Tom Creed, Finola Harrington, Shoshi Israeli, Des Cullen, Aaron Wilkinson and Siofra, O’Donovan.

The 9 original Founders were all the same mind set, a shared belief that the musical was of its time, the next generation needs it and together we could break new boundaries.  

The 9 Founders are volunteers, giving of their time and money for the good of the project. 

Des Cullen our Music Director described so well, so honestly, the reasons for our commitment, when writing a brochure for contributing artists we were reaching out to.

 

I had started this document and typed out the section below on “the Benefits to Artists” and to me it was not enough. “Show me the money” kept jumping out at me.

But then I realized I’m working for free, Shoshi is working for free, Aaron is working for free, Sammy is working for free, Julie is working for free. Everyone involved in this project is working for free.

I remember reading a book about living a complete and fulfilled life and in it was a quote

“Your life is not about you it is about the lives of everyone else you touch”

In this book the highest level of being is when we are working to help others, for the better of our community and the larger world. At this level,

    • There is a sense of connectedness
    • You’re tapped into your intuition
    • Inspiration drives you (setting goals that are coming from your heart.)
    • Luck is on your side (magic happens).

This is why I am doing this project, this is why I am putting in these hours. It feels right, it feels good, magic does happen. I have met amazing people already, we are writing some beautiful collaborative music.

We have already helped others through our concert. We are trying to do good. Bring people together, address some of the wrongs in the world and doing this for the right reasons and from a place of love and connectedness. I want our music to be written from this place. I want us to channel our talents to this end and create something wonderful. I hope the amazing artists from all around the world who get involved in this project feel the same.

What about Us is about you, the individual, letting your talents be heard and used for good. It is also about the oppressed, the unheard, it is about the next generation, it is about trying to make this world and our future world a better place.

 If we come to it with that intent then I feel we will all get out of it far, far more than the benefits listed below”

 

 

How is What About Us Being funded and how are the funds then used?

 

The Founders have paid all costs, all the expenses to date though all recognize that to produce a musical of the standard we are aiming for we will need to bring in external funding.  

 

Funding is being sought for 2 legal structures that have been put in place:

 

1.  What About Us (Limited), an Irish based company

This business is seeking to raise money from commercial sponsors and from Investor who will take an equity stake/a shareholding in the company.

The funding is required to develop an exceptionally talented professional team and pay the professionals appropriately.

To produce and bring a top-quality musical to the world stage is costly.   

The funding raised will be used to pay staff wages, fees to external experts, the making of the docufilm, the staging of the musical, fees to professional musicians & singers, administration costs, legal and finance costs, advertising & marketing; essentially the typical costs to operate a commercial business. 

 

2. The What About Us Foundation (Charity)

The Foundation is seeking Patron donations and sponsors who will support the Mission and charitable goals of the Foundation 

The funding raised for the Foundation and Charity are used for the purpose of which the Foundation has been established; providing training and instruments to young musicians & singers, workshop costs, participating young musicians travel and expenses, What About Us social media messaging, the schools program, the CSR program and supporting external artistic organizations contributing to developing peaceful and harmonious relationships in communities’ challenges by conflict.        

 

Who owns the Musical and the assets?

 

What About Us (Limited), the business, owns all the musical rights, the docufilm and has commercial interests in the novel and the book documenting the journey of the musical from a concept to the stage. All these assets have the potential to generate income for What About Us (Limited)

What About Us (limited) has an unusual ownership structure best described as follows:

  • The 9 Founders are being awarded shares for the time/hours they commit to working for What About Us, without pay.
  • Artists/musicians/composers working on the creation of the musical have the potential to earn shares in What About Us (Limited) and/or be paid for their work. Nobody has been paid to date for their work, all are volunteers.
  • The What About Us Foundation is a significant shareholder in What About Us (Limited). It is hoped that if the Musical is successful then that success will generate a long-term oncome stream for the Foundation.
  • The amount of the shares any of the above stakeholders end up with will be completely dependent on the size of the equity stake investors putting money into What About Us (Limited) will require. This is a straightforward commercial reality.

 

What is the relationship of the What About Us (Limited) business to the What About Us Foundation & Charity?

 

The Business is looking after all the administration and resource costs of establishing the charity, which will be based in Ireland. Essentially, keeping overheads to a minimum.

3 of the Founders Stephen Byrne, Eddie Evans and Julie Hamilton are Trustees.

There are independent Trustees in place to ensure the highest standards of governance, no conflicts of interest and that all donations, income and expenditure is properly accounted for in accordance with the mission and goals of the Foundation.  The independent Trustees are Peter Butler (Secretary) and Mary Ryan  

Trustees are not paid fees.

The Trustees are responsible for all financial matters including approving all expenditure. The Trustees are responsible for all compliance, transparency, and accountability matters.

Financially, both entities are separate legal structures with their own governance, bank accounts and budgets.

 

How is the Charity funded?

 

The Business is looking after all the administration and resource costs of establishing the charity, which will be based in Ireland. Essentially, keeping overheads to a minimum.

3 of the Founders Stephen Byrne, Eddie Evans and Julie Hamilton are Trustees.

There are independent Trustees in place to ensure the highest standards of governance, no conflicts of interest and that all donations, income and expenditure is properly accounted for in accordance with the mission and goals of the Foundation.  The independent Trustees are Peter Butler (Secretary) and Mary Ryan  

Trustees are not paid fees.

The Trustees are responsible for all financial matters including approving all expenditure. The Trustees are responsible for all compliance, transparency, and accountability matters.

Financially, both entities are separate legal structures with their own governance, bank accounts and budgets.

 

Who controls the Foundation Expenditure?

 

The Trustees are responsible for all governance and budgeting and proposing expenditure on specific projects.

All Trustee expenditure proposals need to be approved by the 9 original What About Us Founders

There are 3 Founder shareholders Trustees and 3 independent Trustees with no vested       interest in the What About Us business. The independent Trustees are in place to ensure that there are no conflict-of-interest issues in relation to any financial or governance matters. 

 

What are the Foundation priorities?

 

The Foundation Mission and goals are all listed on the website, best summarized as using music to build bridges between people at war or in conflict.

While the Foundation will be investing into its own charitable initiatives, supporting disadvantaged communities and individuals, it will also be funding the work of external artists, organizations and groups in Ireland, Israel, and Palestine. 

In addition, the Foundation’s CSR program is targeting existing successful businesses and linking then with projects and initiatives that need expertise, resources, and funding.

And last, though certainly not least, is our dream to seed a Movement that can give young people a platform, a voice so that, their world can be better protected, more harmonious and with significantly less war, persecution and corruption – a more just and caring world.