The Arts Summit 2020 was an online event facilitated by Fundraising Everywhere and curated by Dana Segal. It brought together 48 speakers from 17 countries and more than 200 delegates, to reflect, learn and plan for the future, making the ‘new normal’ a richer place for everyone.
Some of the Cause4 team attended the event; here are some of their most memorable takeaways:
Sarah, Marketing & Events Associate
Funding Inclusion was a talk from Kate Larsen, a leader and senior executive in the non-profit, government and cultural sectors in Australia, Asia and the UK.
What struck me most about this session was how clearly and simply inclusion was integrated into Kate’s talk in actionable ways. For example, at the start she described herself for attendees using audio description and acknowledged anyone attending using captioning.
Much programming has been forced online due to the Covid-19 crisis, which Kate sees as a great leveller - an opportunity for accessibility rather than an obligation (though acknowledging it must be frustrating that this opportunity has only been seen as such when access became a problem for able-bodied workers). However, the urgency has meant that many steps to accessibility have been rushed, and don’t prepare for inclusion to be lasting and meaningful.
An example of this is how digital access assumes digital equality; that physical access is the only barrier from attending. In reality, many people don’t have access to the necessary equipment or have the required knowledge to engage with digital programming. Kate highlighted to counteract this that it is important to think about inclusion from the start and build it into any budget. For example, think about what digital equipment and skills are needed and how this can be shared with audiences.
Kate emphasised how inclusion is an opportunity from a fundraiser’s perspective, as access and inclusion can be attractive to funders. They can help you to articulate a point of difference at a time when applications need to stand out, and you can add perspective by centering stories of those who have been most affected, creating your narrative with hope for a better sector rather than leading with panic.
Most importantly when thinking about inclusion, it is crucial that fundraisers are working with the people they are talking about, making sure that there is ‘nothing about us without us’.
The Elephant in the Room: Why Don’t Donors Value the Arts? –
Naomi, Development Fellow
The Elephant in the Room: Why Don’t Donors Value the Arts? was a panel discussion chaired by Bernard Ross from =mc consulting with panellists: Fiona Menzies, Creative Partnerships Australia, Usha Menon, Usha Menon Consultancy, Francesca Sanderson, NESTA and Paul Ramsbottom, Wolfson Foundation.
Why don’t donors value the arts? Core answers from the panel were based on the difficulty of showing the arts as something other than ‘nice to have’. What I found most interesting in this session was the discussion about how Covid-19 may change how we value the arts:
- Positively: we have seen the fragility of the sector, and things we previously took for granted are at risk of disappearing. Pre-Covid-19, it was difficult to make a case for why the arts were an urgent need, but this has now changed.
- Negatively: we have become used to enormous amounts of free content online (not requiring the public to “value” the arts), which could now make it harder to raise income.
These are just two of many interacting effects that Covid-19 could have on philanthropy in the cultural sector, but nevertheless resonated with me. There is an opportunity to position the sector as a whole as vital and urgent – both due to its fragility, and due to the extent that we have relied on theatre, film, music and art in all its forms to get through 2020 so far. Could this be the beginning of a new value being placed on arts and culture?
Emerging Stronger – The New Normal: Perspectives from US Cultural Leaders
David, Director of Strategy and Programmes
Emerging Stronger – The New Normal was a panel discussion chaired by Jeff Jowdy, President of Lighthouse Counsel. Panellists were: Rachel Malkenhorst, Director of Development at Los Angeles Ballet; James Abruzzo, Managing Director of Non-profit Practice at DHR International; and Jennifer Turner, CEO of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
The discussion centred around the impacts of Covid-19 in fundraising in the arts, and on adaptations for the future. This session outlined perspectives from four senior leaders in the USA. There is often much focus in our sector on the differences between fundraising practice on either side of the Atlantic, but I felt this conversation really drew out some parallels with what we are hearing from colleagues in the UK.
The generosity and flexibility of funders was noted by all of the panel with Jennifer Turner, referencing both Foundations and Corporate donors supporting her organisation to adapt their programmes or redirect funds to support the centre’s long-term sustainability. It was acknowledged that there has been some shift from funders away from the arts – specifically corporates, towards social services, racial equality and EDI efforts.
The panel all agreed that Covid-19 had provided lots of organisational learning, as well as time to reflect on their mission, vision and values which had solidified their fundraising asks. Jennifer referenced an opportunity to develop a genuine case for support as a non-profit, as opposed to finding supporters to underwrite shows and events. She talked about not soliciting donations but facilitating connection at this time. Rachel Malkenhorst also talked about shooting for the long game – imagining how to provide content in the future and hooking donors into thinking about long-term endowments etc, rather than focusing on the unknowns of the next six months. The reciprocity with major donors was vital here – working with them as real advisors – understanding what they are going through and using this information to map out short term goals. Is the message landing and how are the funders feeling about life itself?
The session ended on a mindful note from James Abruzzo who noted that it was important for fundraisers to look after their own mental health. That these were challenging times and Boards should remember to support staff as they processed huge levels of uncertainty in their own lives, as well as the life of their organisation.
Female leadership: the way forward for arts fundraising?
Anna, Development Manager
Female leadership: the way forward for arts fundraising? was a panel session chaired by Dana Segal with panellists: Deborah Myers, Development Director at Science Museum; Odile Tevie, Director of Nubuke Foundation Ghana; Ana Pinto Gonçalves, Sponsorship lead at Teatro Nacional Portugal and Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille Toronto.
Dana contextualised the discussion by pointing to female world leaders (Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand, Tsai Ing-Wen, Taiwan and Angela Merkel, Germany) that have been praised for their strong leadership during the pandemic, and kicked off asking what has leadership been like and what skills should be taken forward?
For Marjorie, Black Lives Matter and the pandemic had created opportunity for positive organisational change both in diversity and support for staff with children. Deborah focussed on the need for better people management: ‘offering a better work-life balance is the key thing to take out’. Odile put emphasis on the need to adapt quicky in order to continue vital social impact, and to tighten up processes to support this.
In the round up, Dana asked which female attributes could be codified for success, and soft skills came out as king:
‘Be nurturing – push people to do something they didn’t think they could, make them believe in themselves’ – Odile
‘Keep people at the centre – whoever you’re interacting with. For some leaders hard skills come easier than soft skills, but understanding is fundamental to healthy, beneficial relationships’ – Ana
‘The secret sauce is empathy – women have been navigate oppressive, hierarchical systems for Millenia, but now there is an opportunity to be collaborative and considerate’ – Marjorie