Helen Willmott, Made in Corby Programme Manager, writes about their Networks project supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy.
Made in Corby is an Arts Council England funded Creative People & Places programme, which aims to increase opportunities for local people to experience high-quality arts activities. A part of achieving this aim is to support the local arts sector, which led us to respond to Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy’s Networks scheme.
In partnership with The Core at Corby Cube, we delivered a one-day training and information event in September 2016 under the banner of Launchpad Artists Toolkit, which ties in with The Core’s regular local artists’ showcase. Together we delivered a similar two hour event in January 2016, utilising free speakers from Arts Council England, Northamptonshire Community Foundation and Northamptonshire Growth Hub. This was well attended, with around 25 participants, and there was enthusiasm for further sessions that looked in more depth at some of the topics explored in the first event.
The day was open to anyone interested in running arts projects in Corby and the 25 people that attended were a mix of local artists, arts organisations and community groups. In the morning we heard how Stan’s Café in Birmingham fund their work, which was followed by a range of breakout sessions on crowd-funding, business sponsorship and approaching trusts and foundations. These were complemented by informal discussion sessions with Stan’s Café, Arts Council England and a peer sourced session on local networks.
We were reminded that ‘the idea’ is central for fundraising and above all the most important thing – James Yarker from Stan’s Café reminded us that we need to “make the art first because you love it, and then sort out the rest”. Similarly, in her sessions on crowd-funding Sarah Gee put it simply “money follows vision, not the other way around”. And then in the afternoon, a session on approaching trusts and foundations included a practical exercise on identifying the pots of money that are the best fit for our ideas.
Several sessions discussed the pivotal role of building relationships to successful fundraising; from saying thank you to individual online donors, making the most of online networks such as LinkedIn, to keeping in touch with potential funders that aren’t right now but might be in the future.
A top tip was to never take business cards with you to networking events, that way you collect other people’s and then you’re in control of the start of that relationship, rather than waiting around for them to email you. Be proactive!
We ended the day with a Q&A with local artists who have successfully gained funding. They gave their top tips and lead a discussion around getting started with fundraising. Paula Boulton urged us all to be “bold, bolshy and to believe”
We left with a sense that we all need to be much more confident and believe in ourselves and our art. Top take out – art and vision first, then fundraising follows.