As part of PiCL’s go and see activity I went to see Creative Junction CIC. Founded in 2006/7, they were one of the first de-merged Creative Partnerships offices, with 12 staff at its busiest.
After the demise of CP, they were also left having to look at how to generate all their income and although were successful in securing a range of funding from different sources it was no where near the same level.
In the last 2/3 years they have managed to diversify their income stream and receive funding from a range from Local Authority commissions, small grants and corporate programmes and they are managing a relatively equal split between these income streams with commissioning being the slightly larger stream.
The programme I was most interested in and the reason for the visit was their programme with SEGRO, who sponsor a Young Artists programme, now in its third year. The relationship has developed over time and is a large piece of work for the organisation with showcases and exhibitions as well as the artists and work with young people. The relationship has been built with SEGRO’s marketing department, which for me triggered ideas to consider on how PiCL’s offer to business will support their marketing activity as well as social responsibility strategies. One of my actions following this visit, is to spend time developing the approach we take when approaching companies and further consider how we frame our activity and projects.
I was interested to know if they would be trying to roll out the model, they were hoping to but had reservations about the right organisations to approach and that there was still a large bridge to be built between this type of programme and big corporations, who, despite having a presence in the area were more difficult to contact and work with. They feel that that medium sized locally rooted companies were more likely to engage however there is then the challenge of available funds and budgets.
One other bit of key learning for me was how flexible the organisation needs to be and to that they have become very entrepreneurial themselves and trying something new by approaching an ambitious programme with a social enterprise focus, partnering with organisations to promote and encourage learning and skills development that will aim to develop relationships with larger businesses in the area to deliver on these outcomes.
I felt acutely aware that PiCL have yet to grasp how commissioning could fit into PiCL’s future funding model and that I need to invest some time in building relationships with commissioners so they can see how we are able to deliver the projects and objectives, things like young people led creative events and consultation. I also need to ensure PICL is in a position to tender or take up those opportunities as they arise.
My biggest reflection was that there wasn’t a magic formula and that PiCL are on the right track, trying to offer a range of ways in which people can engage with, buy from and support PiCL, but what we need as an organisation is more capacity to build relationships, get our offers and name out there further and shout about what we do and then actually ASK for the work and funding.
My next exploration will be into Arts and Business to see how they have supported organisations to develop their Arts based training model, see how those organisations are faring and if that learning can be implemented at PiCL.
Erica Love, Director.