Making It Work - Identifying Research Strategies and Sponsorship Funding Possibilities

After a few months of setting the consortium up, getting comfortable with each other, making appointments and filling positions, it felt like at this week's meeting, the Making It Work Consortium got down to the serious business of delving into the vexed area of alternative, non-central arts funding.

Hosted by B-Arts,  under the guidance of our newly appointed facilitator, Helen Jenkins, and with the aid of soup and cake, we explored Phase 1 of the two year programme - The Go and See Visits. Proper and effective research is at the heart of any new learning, and so each of the consortium members laid out their initial thoughts on which area they would like to concentrate the first round of research visits.

As something of a broad church of a consortium, made up of interests ranging from participatory arts, contemporary dance, arts and education, digital arts and conceptual visual arts, inevitably, we came up with a series of places of specific concern to each group. In broader terms though some interesting areas were covered.

  • the worth of visiting organisations operating in similar spheres in order to gain a broader understanding of and to assess the funding situation across the country. 
  • to avoid excluding research in to how much-larger organisations have developed their funding capacities.
  • to research geographically diverse examples
  • but to be aware of the potential irrelevance of some research to our own situation specifically in Stoke-on-Trent.
Narrowing down from this, we also talked about specific funding issues to address. 
  • How to operate without a base building - how does this effect funding capability.
  • Which/Who are the most effective arts organisations at making money.
  • Beyond Ticket Sales, what are the most effective ways for arts organisations of making money
  • how effective are membership schemes
We moved on to look at the rich and powerful in the city to identify possible sponsor-streams. From multi-millionaires such as Bet 365's Coates family, Mobile Phone magnate John Cauldwell and Stoke's Secret Millionaire Mo Chaudrey to the big corporations, employers, charities and organisations.

It led us to a really interesting list of the top 100 companies in Stoke-on-Trent, in terms of turnover and profit. It's fascinating for us to see who's on this list, and a great start to identifying possible sponsors and donors for the city's arts activities. 

Our next step, with the help of our facilitator will be to strategise and target our research visits for maximum individual and group benefit, but maybe also to identify the best methods of approach to some of these companies. Do they fund the arts? If so, how and to what extent? what are the benefits for them in funding the Arts? And. What are the most effective ways for arts organisations to approach such organisations.

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