On Tuesday the 9th of December, Arts Fundraising Fellows, Cause4 staff and Guildhall School Creative Entrepreneurs were fortunate to be joined by Andrew Barnett, Director of the UK branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, for ‘An Evening With’ event.
Andrew has a wealth of experience across the charitable sector and during the session shared a range of insights into the current UK funding landscape and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s aims and objectives.
In the first months of the Arts and Philanthropy Fellowship Programme, my colleagues and I have benefitted from a number of opportunities to further our understanding of developing proposals for trusts and foundations. This has included recent application writing skills sessions at Cause4 and the National Arts Fundraising School.
This discussion therefore came at an opportune time, as many Fellows have been reflecting on, implementing feedback and sharing expertise from this training. The chance to hear from the Director of a prominent foundation consequently provided an invaluable opportunity to further contextualise all that we have learned so far.
Andrew outlined a vision for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundations’ operations and talked in detail of their support for projects displaying the boldness, adventurous spirit and rigour of their founder. A central theme of the discussion, however, and equally aligned with Calouste Gulbenkian’s own life and willingness to forge productive links, is the theme of collaboration.
Andrew spoke enthusiastically of the increasing tendency for collaboration throughout the charitable sector and specifically in two regards; between trusts, foundations and funded organisations, and between those seeking funding. Collaboration in both areas seemed particularly resonant for the arts, in which there is considerable potential and capability for forming innovative platforms, partnerships and consortia.
In terms of the relationship between trusts, foundations and funded organisations, a key trend identified was a move from a ‘transactional’ grant making model to a collaborative one. Emphasis was placed on trust and foundations’ support throughout the realisation of a project, from initiation through to delivery. It was also noted that ever more trusts and foundations are seeking to actively contribute their knowledge and expertise at every stage of a project, in order to enable and complement funded organisations, and maximise the impact of their support.
Equally, collaboration in terms of the collective capability of those seeking funding was encouraged and trust and foundations’ desire to invest in a transformative process was underlined. A strong message was that often this can be best achieved if organisations have a reflective awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and form partnerships when delivering projects which respond to this understanding.
The content of the evening endorsed many aspects of the training Fellows have received, whilst also providing a unique perspective into the work of trusts and foundations. All those who attended would like to offer their thanks to Andrew, who generously offered his time for this hugely informative event.