North Arts Sector Trust and Foundations Event


As director of the the Queer Media Festival my aim of the day was to understand why Trusts and Foundations fund the arts and how this could ultimately help support next year’s Queer Media Festival in screening more films, and curating more in-conversations and performances.

BALTIC arts centre

What made this event particularly successful was the amount of structured debate and conversation between participants. The day was opened by an introduction and welcome by Adam Lopardo from Community Foundation followed by a brief presentation by Sarah Maxfield of Arts Council who explained: How organisations need to diversify their income streams in order to become resilient. In times of austerity and reduced public funding, competition for funds is high, so arts organisations need to know how to ensure their applications are successful.

Debate began with a panel chaired by Phylida Shaw. The panel included:

Rob Williamson | Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

Penny Wilkinson | Northern Rock Foundation

Vivien Stapley | Sir James Knott Trust

Each panellist gave an introduction to why they fund culture. Culture may not be the main priority of a Trust or Foundation, but grant givers are humans, and they understand the social benefits that culture can have on areas of deprivation.

“You’re not going to solve the problem but you are part of the solution”

The top 3 things that we learned from this section:

  1. Do include information about the non-arts benefits of arts and culture projects
  2. Do include evidence like YouTube clips, images and case studies
  3. Think about your legal structure, grant givers sometimes insist you are a “registered charity” but, “If your organisation’s objectives are exclusively charitable and income is over £5k, you’re legally an (unregistered) charity”

The second panel of the day:

Clare Wilkinson | Garfield Weston

Dorothee Irving | Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Garfield Weston is the largest family run trust in the UK, with all trustees being a descendent of Garfield Weston himself. The Trust is now actively encouraging applications from the North of England, after a significant decline. There are just two people judging every application.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation gives £6m annually to the Arts. Dorothee gave the group an exclusive overview of the new structure of the Foundation, which now focuses on 6 tiers:

  • Widening participation
  • Education and learning through arts
  • Evidence base and information sharing
  • Youth organisations (not necessarily arts)
  • Migration
  • Ideas fund (open to individuals)

This section allowed the audience to question some of the assumptions of trust fundraising, with some myths brought to light:

  • Arts organisations do not necessarily need a good track record of previously funded projects.
  • They do not need a former relationship with the Trust or Foundation.
  • Knowing someone on the inside does not increase chances of success.
  • Trusts and Foundations do not take into consideration Arts Council funding.
  • Each application is considered independently and judged on a case by case basis.

Attendees were invited to take part in a one-to-one advice session with one of the representatives of a Trust and Foundation. Meanwhile, drop-in discussions were held on the following topics:

  • Using who we know and what we know
  • Success stories
  • How we use our boards to support fundraising.

Some of the key issues that arose were:

  • There is an increased need for core funding, however trusts and foundations tend to favour time limited and measurable projects.
  • A need for feedback from unsuccessful grants
  • How do we articulate where the money will be spent if it is for core funding?
  • Boards need to understand the importance of the role of a fundraiser.
  • Arts organisations need ambassadors

The main lessons I learned from the day were:

  • Do not be afraid of rejection, and to try again.
  • Trusts and Foundations need arts organisations to fulfil their objectives.
  • Do not be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for advice.

Overall the day taught me to be brave, and to understand that grant givers are only human. Ultimately I learned that you need to translate what your event or organisation aims to achieve into emotional and physical outcomes for your participants that Trusts and Foundations can understand and match up with their own objectives. Jamie Starboisky

Held at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Community Foundation on Tuesday 28th April 2015, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland #Northartsfunding

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