CATALYST NEWS: MAKING THE CASE FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT
By Kate Danielson
I recently attended an Assessment Day in London to meet candidates for Create Gloucestershire’s new Fundraising Fellow. CG was successful in applying to the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme (funded by Arts Council England as part of the wider Catalyst scheme) to host an emerging fundraiser to work with our organisation for a year from this September. This will be a fabulous opportunity for a young arts professional to learn about fundraising within a consortium and given their fundraising targets, as well as the additional training and mentoring they receive, it should be a wonderful new resource for CG and all our members.
Peter Bazalgette, ACE’s Chairman, kicked off the day with his view of the current challenges facing fundraisers and arts organisations and it chimes perfectly with discussions we have been having as part of CG’s Catalyst programme. There is an overarching need to change public perceptions about the role of the arts in society and their benefits beyond the purely artistic ones. According to a recent yougov poll, only 8% of the public recognise arts organisations as charities which may go some way to explaining why only 1% of charitable donations come to our sector. Peter also shared the sobering statistic that it is 5 times harder to raise money outside London and 80% of all arts fundraising goes to 50 London organisations, so we need to get better at telling our story - and making sure it's heard.
If we are to increase fundraising, as opposed to commercial activities or statutory funding, we need to present an holistic case for public support for the arts.
He identifies 4 separate strands of this case as follows:
1. The intrinsic value of culture lies at the heart of the case for support, most obviously its impact on the quality of life.
2. Benefits to society – eg work with dementia patients, literacy in prisons, loneliness in elderly (a good example of this: www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/29/musical-therapy-helps-dementia-patients-harmony).
3. Benefits to education –the symbiotic relationship between the arts and young people, lifelong learning etc.
4. Economic benefits – tourism, skills, regeneration, exports, profile abroad, cultural brand.
All our arts organisations in Gloucestershire can evidence the work they are doing, and the impact they are having, in these areas. Our challenge now is to make our case for support in a way that all potential supporters who have an interest in any of these 4 strands will understand and recognise. We are looking for partners who want to invest in the positive impact we are having and this may be as much about setting up business to business conversations between the arts and local businesses as attracting philanthropic donors motivated by the desire to bring the best cultural experience into their community.