A new generation of entrepreneurial arts fundraisers launches

By Amanda Rigali on

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Today the Arts Council England-funded Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme announces its first cohort of 11 graduate fundraisers, an exciting moment for the arts and cultural sector!

The group based in London (Cause4) and the North (Dare Fundraising Academy) will benefit from a specially devised 12 month intensive training programme, including a week at the National Arts Fundraising School, mentoring, coaching, action learning and on the job training in host organisations such as Opera North, Sage Gateshead, the Barbican and the Roundhouse, with accreditation and certification provided by the University of Leeds.

The lucky starting 11 have been put through their paces as the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy team have sought to identify a new swathe of entrepreneurial talent. Each successful graduate has undertaken no less than three presentations, an assessment centre day hosted by Arts Council England Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette, written tests and an interview with six senior arts professionals – a process not for the faint-hearted!

I couldn’t be more delighted that this graduate programme is at the heart of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme and believe that its at this grass-roots level where we can make a significant impact.

Fundraising and Development can be a great career, a sector where you can make a difference in the direction and future sustainability of an organisation and where entrepreneurial talent can be rewarded – but a long-term career needs care, time to develop and the right sort of training. Too often we see talent leave the sector, facing unsustainable pressure, burnout and apathy.

Right from the start, the concept for the Fellowship programme has been to identify entrepreneurial talent. The arts sector desperately needs fundraising and development staff that can make things happen, those people that are not afraid to try new things and who will be resilient and not give up on the needs relating to income generation in this tougher climate.

One of the best non-business definitions that I’ve come across in relation to entrepreneurship was devised some time ago by Prof. Howard Stevenson of the Harvard Business School:

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to the resources currently controlled”

This definition couldn’t be more apt for me, as we grapple with the challenges currently facing the arts sector – too often we’re afraid to make change, to push forward or to stick to our guns in the face of adversity. In fundraising we need a touch of the maverick, those people that won’t say ‘no before yes’ and those not afraid to try new things – the seeming magicians that can create opportunities out of nowhere….

So for Naomi, Tom, Adam, Stephanie, Sandie, Sarah, Emma, Jill, Sarah, Dana and Bex – welcome to your Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy fellowship. We’re looking forward to a great year ahead and to seeing just how much impact you can make as individuals and collectively and thank you to ACE for your confidence in supporting this programme.

…and the London and North Hubs are just the start – the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme is already developing hubs in the South West, East and Midlands. Here’s to seeing a great group of Fellows pursue many and great opportunities…..!

If you would like to find out more or register for next year please go to www.artsfundraising.org.uk.

Posted by Amanda Rigali

Amanda is Director of Strategic Development at Cause4, and Head of the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme. As well as running the Programme, Amanda runs fundraising training sessions for cultural professionals across England and offers intensive strategy support to a range of charities.

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