Creative Internships Blog 2014/2015
Week 42: Alexandra Roberts, National Museum Wales
As my ten month internship draws to a close I am trying to gather all of my experiences and successes to keep a record of how much I have learnt throughout my placement. The internship has been a great introduction into a career in arts fundraising, and Amgueddfa Cymru has provided me with the opportunity to learn about different areas of development. I have worked with each member of our development team to learn about what each person does and try my hand at different areas of fundraising.
The past ten months of experience has started me on a career path I would not have found without the creative internships programme, and although I may be taking a slight detour from this path for the next year, I hope to continue working in arts fundraising when I return.
The past 10 months working with my business mentor, arts mentor, Arts & Business and the NMW Development Team have confirmed how important it is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Through writing these blogs, having various monthly meetings, and mid-point meetings, I have realised that taking a moment to think about my experiences has made a big difference to how I feel about them. This is exactly what I plan to do. I am taking a year out to go travelling and reflect on the past year and what I enjoyed the most, and more importantly, see where I want this experience to lead me.
Working at Amgueddfa Cymru has been an amazing experience. The Development Department have been so welcoming and have made sure I get the most out of the experience, and the museum as a whole has been such a great place to work. Both the museum and the development team have had some amazing successes over the past year, and it has been great to be a part of it. I look forward to seeing how the redevelopment project at St Fagans looks when I return to Wales next year!
This is now my last blog of the internship, and I want to say a huge thank you to Arts and Business for having me as an intern and for looking after all of us interns so well. I am sure the Creative Internships programme will continue to grow and succeed in training the next generation of arts fundraisers. Good luck to all the new interns!
Week 41: Olivia Richardson, NoFit State Circus
Where to start? Or rather, ‘where to end?’
It’s difficult to believe that this time last year I was on the sofa in my pyjamas, back living at home with my parents after 3 years at university, without a road to go down or even the slightest inkling of a career. Little did I know that under a year later, I’d be enjoying my last day at the circus, ready to climb the next rung of the ladder and jump into a permanent fundraising job.
Because frankly, I didn’t have a plan.
I was scared, terrified even, at the thought of people asking “what next, then?” because I didn’t have an answer. I knew I wanted to stay within the arts and if I was honest, I knew I wanted to be back in Cardiff, so applying for and getting a place on the Creative Internships programme with Arts & Business Cymru was completely perfect for me. I genuinely felt like everything had fallen into place and that everything I had learnt and experienced so far, be that school or university or my gap year, had been leading up to this opportunity.
This year for me has been incredible. And I seriously mean, incredible.
Let’s start with the information.
All the brand new information that has been squished and crammed into my head (and my head is pretty huge for quite a small person, so that’s impressive!) in a relatively short space of time has been phenomenal. Be that from attending the Arts & Business Cymru training courses that gave a huge boost on starting the internship as I had had no experience of any kind of arts management up until this point, to the inconceivable amount I have learnt from my line manager, Bethan and Mentor, Alison at NoFit State. Before I started in September, NoFit had a development team of one. Just one. And so my time with the Circus and with Bethan has been incredibly varied, with me being able to access and help out with all aspects of arts fundraising and for me that has been the most valuable aspect. The sheer breadth of opportunities that have been open to me is outstanding, and also the amount I have learnt about myself - I am so so thankful.
That leads me swiftly on to my new found family.
I can hand-on-heart say I have never felt more welcomed and a genuine part of a group of people than at NoFit State. My time at the circus has been relatively brief but boy, it is a time I will never forget. What a place to start a career! I have made friends for life and have been a part of something that I couldn’t have ever imagined being part of less than a year ago. To NoFit State, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me one of the most amazing and unique first stepping stones into a career I could have ever asked for. I will miss you all, (yes! All of you!) but look forward to seeing you all in the Big Top very soon!
Arts & Business Cymru. Thank you for pulling my application out of the pile, giving little old me a chance and partnering me with the most perfect company. I can’t express how appreciative I am to have been part of such a marvellous project and I firmly believe that without this wonderful springboard, I would still be on my parent’s sofa without a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life.
For giving me a purpose, I am eternally grateful.
Week 40: Louisa Turner, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
I can’t believe I am writing my final blog. It seems only yesterday that I wrote my first and I had an exciting 10 months ahead of me. Now I’ve got 2 weeks left of the internship and I can honestly say it’s been such a brilliant and worthwhile experience.
I have learnt such an awful lot about fundraising for the arts. I’ve learnt a huge amount of new skills and also learnt more about myself.
I am so pleased to say that I will be staying on at the College for another year as maternity cover for the Development Officer. The timing couldn’t be better and I’m very grateful that my colleagues have the confidence in me to stay on and take on this new challenge and responsibility.
I am also extremely pleased to say that I have had a success with one of my Trust applications! One of my main goals during the internship was to bring in some money for the College and make a financial contribution, so I’m really happy I’ve been able to achieve this.
My final words will just be to say a huge thank you to Arts and Business Cymru for setting up such a fantastic scheme and looking after us so well. The training they’ve provided to us has been invaluable and I wish the next cohort of interns the very best of luck.
Week 39: Ava Plowright, Wales Millennium Centre
Really special days come around only once in a blue moon, and Friday was one of those days. Along with the rest of my classmates (and fellow Creative Intern Louisa) I crossed the stage at St David’s Hall and officially received my MA in Arts Management. Yes, Friday was our long awaited Graduation Ceremony, taking place almost 10 months after I handed in my mammoth dissertation. More than just a day to celebrate with family and friends, Friday was a day for reflection. I couldn’t help but look back on the 28 months since I began studying for my Masters, and realise just how much I’ve achieved.
This is a word which really looms large in my mind at the moment.
When I started my Masters degree, I felt conscious that I needed to work really hard to make the most of the opportunity, and to justify how much money I’d invested in it. I worked late into the evenings perfecting my assignments, whilst also trying to soak up as much practical experience as possible (and juggling a job too!). I completed my MA in Arts Management with a Merit, and went straight into the Creative Internships scheme. During the internship I’ve successfully earned grants from trusts and foundations for the Centre, managed and renewed several corporate supporter accounts, and organised and hosted hospitality and events for our supporters. More importantly, I’ve won the respect and trust of my colleagues at the Centre, and really do feel like I belong here.
In my eyes, these are all huge achievements, but the biggest is that, once my Creative Internship comes to an end on the 22nd of July, I will become a permanent member of Team Development at Wales Millennium Centre! In my new role as Development Assistant, I’ll continue to work across the entire fundraising portfolio at the Centre, still soaking up as much knowledge as possible from my colleagues. Looking back now, every hour and every penny invested has been thoroughly worth it, and I’m so excited to continue on my journey as a fundraiser.
I have to say the biggest thank you to Arts & Business Cymru for having me as a Creative Intern. I really do hope this scheme continues to flourish over the coming years – there isn’t a better opportunity for Arts graduates out there! Diolch yn fawr also to the whole team at Wales Millennium Centre for welcoming me into the family from the word go, and for being so supportive of my development. I’m so happy to be staying at the Centre!
And to next year’s Creative Interns, whoever you may be – grab this opportunity with both hands. You won’t regret it!
Week 38: Lauren Swain, National Theatre Wales
Well, I am sat on stage amongst the preparations for tonight’s Arts & Business Cymru Awards. The tables are laden with decorations, gifts and goody bags – full of donated surprises! The lighting is set and the performing artists are rehearsing. It is looking even better than last year and I can’t wait to see the stunning commissioned awards given out later! One of my responsibilities during the event itself is to give a thank you gift to the celebrities presenting each of the awards. What a lovely way to end my time with A&B Cymru - celebrating another year of arts and business partnerships with 450 guests!
I finished my time at National Theatre Wales in similar style, with the first ever NTW party event in London. We made the most of having a UK touring production by inviting guests to join us at The Arcola Theatre to learn more about NTW. It was a brilliant success – we had a really good turn out and the vibe was exactly what we were hoping for. NTW’s Artistic Director, John McGrath, opened the pre-show reception and then handed over to three individuals who have had their lives changed and amazing opportunities as a result of NTW’s work. This made it a much more casual, authentic and powerful advocacy of the organisation’s extraordinary commitment to support talent across Wales. Following the production we then enjoyed an even more casual after party together. I had the exciting experience of setting up this event, preparing a guest list, invitations and carefully researching attendees so that I could introduce them to the most relevant NTW staff. It was a great last day!
I am now going to be working full-time as a Fundraising Executive for my other employer, The Funding Centre, also based in Cardiff. I will get the opportunity to work with a range of charities in many different fundraising roles. This is a great opportunity for this time in my career, as I will gain a great range of experiences over a comparatively short amount of time, as well as gaining a better understanding of what types of fundraising I most enjoy.
This is now my last blog and I just want to highlight that it is through A&B Cymru’s Creative Internship programme that I have been able to embark on a line of work that I now know I find varied, challenging and very enjoyable. The opportunity they offer has helped me to access work in the arts in Wales and I am so pleased that a whole new cohort will again be able to benefit in the same way from October 2015. Good luck to all of the new applicants – you won’t regret it!
Week 37: Olivia Richardson, NoFit State Circus
Well, like Louisa, I too have had an event-filled month. And, I too concur that just as much attention should be paid to the run up and follow up of the event as the actual night itself.
The 12th of June saw the opening night of NoFit State’s tented touring show ‘BIANCO’ and the productions first week has been a roaring success, with a string of near-sell out shows.
Following on from the success of last year, the company held an exclusive BIANCO VIP night – a great opportunity to invite press, industry peers, current funders and potential new supporters to see the show and understand what the company is about.
My role for the night was to run the guest list and be the first face our VIPs would see when they arrived at the Big Top - and this job required some dedicated preparation. Although time consuming, research on your guests before an event is completely essential and so after I knew my John’s from my James’ it was my job to brief the rest of team and our board members on who would be joining us.
That small bit of initial research before the event was paramount to the smooth running of the night on our part, but also the total enjoyment of our guests.
Initially, I was a tad apprehensive, even nervous before the event (unusual for me!) but once the first name was struck off my list, I was on a roll and really enjoyed my night on the door. I met some great people at the event and carried on some wonderful conversations once we were inside the Big Top.
We have had some wonderful feedback from our guests in the couple of days after the VIP night and have welcomed even more people into the NoFit State world, and family.
That’s the word.
This company is a family. And whether you’re in the audience with a glass of wine, up on the trapeze with your heart racing or in the office finding the next potential donor. You’re part of the family. You’re in it. And you won’t be same again.
** There are still tickets left to see NoFit State’s BIANCO in Cardiff. Get yours now! www.nofitstate.org/bianco See you there!**
Week 36: Louisa Turner, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
A proud blog from me this week. Sometimes it’s very easy to jump on ahead and move onto the next thing on the ‘to do’ list. But my arts mentor has told me that it’s important to look back and give yourself a pat on the back for the things that went well and take time to appreciate all the hard work that went in to the project just gone.
A few weeks ago we held our first annual President’s Dinner event to say a big thank you to our current donors but to also welcome potential new supporters. The event needed a lot of careful preparation and the development team were ‘all systems go’ in the few weeks running up to the event. It was a huge eye opener to all the different things that need to happen and all the decisions, large or small, that need to be made. My role was to help with the management of the guest list, RSVPs, table plans, catering decisions and some of the logistics of the ‘on the day’ preparations such as making sure performers knew what they were doing and when.
Every little detail had to be covered. Place names had to be accurate with titles and prefix’s checked and double checked, flowers had to be ordered for tables centre pieces and dietary requirements had to be relayed back to catering, letting them know exactly who would be sitting where.
My job for the event was to be event manager, keeping to strict schedule and making sure those who were speaking or performing knew when to go up to the stage. The rest of my team were hosting tables and therefore needed to rely on me to make sure all the little bits surrounding the event ran smoothly so they were able to successfully build relationships without having to rush off and make sure someone’s coat was taken or their dessert was on time.
The evening was extremely tiring as my concentration needed to be 100% throughout the night.
I’m happy to say that the event could not have gone more smoothly, and my team were very complementary towards my help, so I can be very proud of this achievement. However, a lot of it was down to the weeks of preparation beforehand and I am very confident that I now have a case study to use in the future for any events I may have to help run again.
Just as important as the actual event is how you follow up after it. This is something we are in the process of doing now and my team are following up on some of the interesting conversations they had with guests. We have already had a lot of feedback and response from people who really enjoyed themselves so it is great to think that it had a personal and hopefully lasting effect on them.
The College is a special place with special and talented individuals and bringing those individuals together with people of great influence can be an exciting and promising thing.
Week 35: Ava Plowright, Wales Millennium Centre
Unbelievably, this is my penultimate blog entry! It’s amazing to think that soon there will be a new group of Creative Interns embarking on their 10 month journey. I’m so happy that the scheme will be continuing for another year, and that a new group of graduates will be given this unique head start into a career in arts fundraising. I can’t wait to watch from the ‘other side’ as they progress.
On day one of our internships, we were told to be like ‘sponges’ over the coming 10 months, and soak up as much knowledge as possible – this is something I’ve really taken to heart! Training has been a big part of the internship, punctuating our on the job learning with a really wide variety of courses. Over the internship I’ve grabbed any course offered to me with both hands, determined to make the most of the opportunity to learn.
A few weeks ago, I was given the chance to attend a course led by my business mentor, Alison Love. Alison is a former HR practitioner and employment lawyer, and now a professional mediator and coach. She has recently written a book - The Manager’s Guide to Mediating Conflict - and the course was based around this, teaching lots of practical skills for dealing with conflict in the workplace. I found that many of the skills, such as deep listening and positively reframing a negative statement, have translated really well into my day to day work, helping particularly with donor care which is a huge part of any fundraiser’s role.
I’ve also learned loads from the events I’ve had the chance to attend, both with Wales Millennium Centre and Arts & Business Cymru. Last night, I attended Cardiff Question Time, an event sponsored by our partners Cardiff Business Council, which was a debate and discussion on various issues relating to Cardiff’s standing in the UK market. It was so interesting to hear the views of all the panellists, who each came from very different fields.
What struck me most is that all of us – arts organisations, leisure and tourism destinations, and commercial businesses – share the same core goal. We all want a wider range of people to come to Cardiff, stay for longer and see more of the amazing things we have to offer. This will be so much easier to achieve if we all work together, combining what we have to offer and spreading the word as far as possible. A lofty goal maybe, but a really exciting one too!
Week 34: Lauren Swain, National Theatre Wales
I didn't entirely know what I was signing up for when I undertook one of the places on Arts & Business Cymru’s Creative Internship programme, or what I would make of fundraising. However, I can honestly say that over the last two years on the programme I have learnt an incredible amount and met so many brilliant individuals. This is my final blog while contracted with A&B Cymru, placed at National Theatre Wales (NTW), but I have one more to write in June, by which time I will already be in my new job as a Fundraising Executive with the Funding Centre - but more about that next time. A&B Cymru, each of the programme funders and all of the partnering organisations have together developed an important career step for recent graduates, providing the chance to take on responsibilities that are crucial, but otherwise hard to access, and make it possible for participants to gain the skills to apply for fully fledged arts roles.
The programme has learning at its centre and not the pressure to earn your keep as it were. This is helped by the grant support A&B Cymru secure from enthused trusts and foundations, which enables each arts organisation to afford taking on and putting time into those completely new to the profession. This opportunity of paid internships enables entry-level individuals to accomplish high quality achievements in fundraising, in very hands-on environments. I have had the opportunity to learn about fundraising in a real setting, working with real fundraisers. These experiences have put each intern in excellent stead to fulfil their desired outcomes and launch a career in the arts.
My experiences have been a window into a line of work that is varied, challenging and still very close to the art itself. These are roles where the arts can still inspire you and where you get to write about them creatively. The arts and writing have always been two things I loved at school and university and it has been amazing to find that I can not only apply them to a useful job but that they are skills that are actually needed. I used to find myself in a quandary about what good an art degree would really do me in the long run. But without that specialism, amongst a few alternative qualifications, I wouldn't have been eligible to apply for the Creative Internships programme. I have come to appreciate that all sorts of qualities and characters are valuable in fundraising. A&B Cymru value the fact that creative people offer all sorts of skills that are perfect for a development environment and chose to pursue this avenue when seeking to address Wales’ lack of fundraisers.
Overall the internship has meant a lot to me! It has been an opportunity to learn and be inspired about what fundraising is, how great fundraisers work and the role fundraising plays within inspiring organisations. I think I have most enjoyed gaining a new level of appreciation for art forms, because you understand the work that goes on behind the scenes to make them happen. Ultimately, interns have the opportunity to learn on the job alongside highly experienced individuals and, in turn, organisations gain the extra capacity they need to engage communities and reach audiences: new generations of arts practitioners enabling new generations of arts participation. I would definitely encourage anyone looking to work for an arts organisation to seriously consider A&B Cymru’s offer – I have had a wonderful and very beneficial 2 years!
Week 33: Olivia Richardson, NoFit State Circus
So, this month there are no metaphors. There’s no imagery or flowery language. There is one sentence alone that sums up this month…
“The trustees have considered your request and have agreed a donation”
Yes, you read that right, fundraising application SUCCESSFUL.
While I’ve been here at NoFit State, I have been fortunate enough to raise a couple of small pots of money and although it is incredibly cliché…’every little helps’.
With this trust letter however, I had applied for a substantial pot of money to make a brand new project happen and thanks to this particular funder, NoFit State are now able to launch the ‘NoFit State Silver Circus’ – and how excited I am!
The Silver Circus is a brand new project that will see NoFit State partner with a local Cardiff residential care organisation to start to resolve the issue of older people not being able to participate in regular activity or the difficulty of access as one grows older. We want to break down these barriers and bring the NoFit State classes to the people who need them most.
‘Silver Circus’ is a series of circus workshops for the older generation. The project will teach new skills to the residents, providing mental stimulation and aerobic exercise while also combatting loneliness and isolation in the elderly by increasing sociability and regular group participation; all in the comfort and safety of their own accommodation. We will work closely with staff and carers to ensure the upmost care is taken throughout the sessions whilst still encouraging independence and fun.
All in all, I am over the moon. If anything, it is incredible just how much of a boost getting that cheque in the post can be; that confirmation that you are good at your job and you can do it. Also, I learnt this month that a trust or funder will donate the money that they see fit for you to undertake the project, even if this donation is more than you originally asked for!
I guess that the one other thing that has been niggling in my mind over the last month has been, ‘what next?’
My time at NoFit State is sadly coming (very rapidly) to an end and the realisation has hit that I may need to find somewhere new to carrying on my fundraising career.
So, the time has come to start the job hunt and although it is a tad daunting I am incredibly excited to start a new chapter in development.
Week 32: Alexandra Roberts, National Museum Wales
Since my internship began I have spent a lot of time working on grant maintenance and building up an understanding of working with trusts and foundations. In the next few months I will be putting everything I have learnt into practice! I am about to start my first trust application, as well as starting a small trusts mailing to help fund a strand in the St Fagans redevelopment! Grant maintenance has been the part of the internship which I have enjoyed the most so far and I’m really looking forward to getting started and getting hands on experience with the applications!
We have also been looking into research tools which could lessen the time spent on research and give the fundraisers more time else-where. This research has given us an opportunity to evaluate ways to improve efficiency and keep the team as informed as possible. By using new research tools it also allows us to widen our search and find support for new projects which are completely different to the projects the museum has done before.
Last week is a great example of the how the museum is trying new projects and widening the scope of information available to our visitors. After months of preparation, ‘Chalkie Davies – The NME Years’ exhibition was finally unveiled and I couldn’t quite believe how well it went. Even on its busiest days I have never seen the museum quite so lively!
The Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre was filled with guests as Chalkie Davies and Chris Difford discussed the exhibition and Chalkie’s career. Guests were then welcomed into the main hall by live music by DJ Rhoda Dakar before going to see the exhibition.
It was amazing to see so much excitement surrounding the exhibition, especially as it was so different to the normal displays. The museum had an entirely new atmosphere, and so many new faces.
Having graduated from a Photography course last year, I was really intrigued to see the museums introduction of photography into its galleries. In the time that I have been here, it has held its first two big photography exhibitions, and is in the process of making photography a much bigger part of the galleries. The first exhibition was ‘Historic Photography Uncovered’ which was received so well, it held historic relevance and really factored into the museums step towards exhibiting the photographic medium as an art form in the museum. ‘Chalkie Davies – The NME Years’ has a contemporary style, with iconic images of musicians, like nothing the museum has ever shown before, and it couldn’t have gone down better. Everyone seemed to have their own story behind the images of musicians, from the concerts they went to, to the records they bought at the time. It gave the exhibition a real buzz and everyone really enjoyed the evening.
This was the first time the museum had worked in partnership with NME, and the success of the contemporary photographic exhibition brings an opportunity for new visitors to get involved and support the museum. This partnership with NME, along with the partnerships and sponsorship for our recent event in London has given me an insight into the benefits of working with other organisations but also the challenges involved when working with external partners.
I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months being able to use the skills I have learnt so far here and hopefully learning a lot more before I leave!
Week 31: Louisa Turner, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
This is something that has been taking over my thoughts for the past few weeks and months.
Many arts organisations are desperately trying to get businesses on their sides for sponsorship in a way that inspires and nurtures relationships.
The first main question to ask yourself is “Why on earth would a business want to sponsor our arts organisation?” This is a serious question that involves a lot of reflection and, in my situation, has involved a lot of spider diagrams!
There are hundreds of different reasons once you have scratched the surface. We are a creative and inspiring group of people with many stories to tell that clients of a business would love to hear about. Businesses want to offer their clients something completely different, an in the arts, we can provide this. Not only for their clients, but their staff too.
It is a well-known fact that if you have a happy group of staff that feel rewarded and appreciated, they will in turn perform better. Offering businesses a chance to get their staff involved in one of the arts activities you provide already to members of the public, or free tickets to show, can really excite staff members. Not only are you keeping your business happy, but you are also engaging with a new set of people, potential new audience members, and potential new supporters.
Although the business might not see an instant return on investment, in the longer term, sponsorship of an arts organisation can really enhance their brand. The business will be associating themselves with a unique and exciting company and charity. When their potential customers see this, it can only make them think more positively about the company, and give them the competitive advantage.
I won’t lie, it’s not a quick and easy fix, and it takes a lot of time and commitment from the organisation, but when done properly, sponsorship of the arts can be a really powerful thing.
Week 30: Ava Plowright, Wales Millennium Centre
Last week, I had my first Personal Development Review at Wales Millennium Centre, which is a six-monthly process undertaken by each and every employee here. Taking the form of a conversation with my line manager, this was an excellent opportunity to sit back and reflect on the journey I’ve been on so far as a fledgling fundraiser.
Before starting the internship, I was really excited about developing my skills in the workplace. I’ve always believed in the value of hands on experience and, on reflection, this has been every bit as valuable as I had imagined. From a bit of a fundraising novice, I now feel I have a good grounding across the development portfolio – from writing a successful application to a trust, to account managing a corporate sponsor and securing a renewal – as well as developing my skills in general, particularly communication and relationship building. Over the past seven months, I’ve grabbed any opportunity presented to me with both hands, and I think this has been the major factor in how much I’ve achieved.
One of the huge positives about the Creative Internship so far has been the many opportunities to reflect upon and monitor my own growth and progress. Meetings with my Business and Arts Mentors, as well as the support networks within my host organisation and Arts & Business Cymru, provide regular opportunities to take stock of my achievements, recognise my strengths and set targets to address my areas in need of improvement. It may not have been apparent at the time, but looking back, these short meetings have had a big impact on my ability to stay on track throughout the internship. Like road signs along the journey, reassuring me I’m moving in the right direction.
I’ve realised this week that I’m really going to miss this constant routine of reflection once the Internship ends. I’ve decided to put a little bit of time in my diary each month once July has passed, to remind myself to spend a few minutes acknowledging the things I’ve achieved, however small they may be, and remind myself of my targets both short and long term. Being reflective is one of the core values here at Wales Millennium Centre, and I’m starting to realise how important this really is. I’ll definitely carry this forward after the internship ends.
Week 29: Lauren Swain, National Theatre Wales
At National Theatre Wales (NTW) I am currently focusing on researching and qualifying the importance of business ethics in fundraising. I am translating my finds into a set of guidelines that will be part of our development strategy, with a specific focus on establishing future corporate relationships.
But what actually are business ethics?! It turns out they are predominantly when companies go beyond their legal requirements to behave in a way guided by morals and values, taking into account any implications they might have on others. Obviously, and understandably, the primary objective for many businesses is to provide strong returns for shareholders, but should this be achieved at the expense of social, environmental or moral considerations? Indeed a business will only thrive in the long-term if it also responsibly takes into account the needs of other stakeholders such as governments, employees, suppliers, communities and customers.
The arts community will be well aware of examples of non-ethical businesses and their negative impact on the arts they sponsor. There is the recent case of the Tate & BP’s partnership, where the Tate is battling controversy and protests for being involved with an oil company. Similarly the Sydney Biennale was boycotted by artists and pressured into ending its relationship with Transfield Holdings, due to its involvement in offshore refugee detention camps. As such, organisations are increasingly seeing the importance of having an ethical fundraising policy in order to avoid such controversies.
But how do you judge if a business is ethical? It seems it is essential to conduct a subjective assessment of its products or services, its founding priorities, values, goals, and its reputation, or alternatively use an independent screening company, such as the Ethical Investment Research Service (EIRS). Ethical businesses will ensure that the highest legal, moral and undiscriminating standards are observed in all relationships with the people in their business community.
The first step for organisations, the point that NTW currently finds itself at, is to identify your own core values and the general business principles that you cannot compromise on. We plan to then translate those values into a framework of guidelines and questions to ask around potential sponsorships. We hope to involve our whole staff and board in this process; sharing perspectives and ensuring there is no internal dissent later on. Obviously ethical questions do not always have a unique, faultless answer, but my research has shown me that, as core principles, a sponsor partnership should:
• Align with or aspire to the vision and values of the arts organisation.
• Positively reinforce the integrity, reputation and support of the art organisation.
• Encourage the artistic or educational freedom of our work and artistic practitioners, without exerting a negative influence on the work it enables, enforcing unachievable incentives or reducing access for audiences.
Once we approve our guidelines, we will use these strategic considerations when identifying corporates that we think are a good match for NTW. However, in seeking examples of existing policies, it is clear that other third sector charities are currently thinking about business ethics in fundraising much more than arts charities. We need to follow them in protecting our organisations, practitioners and participants with ethical fundraising policies of our own!
Week 28: Alexandra Roberts, National Museum Wales
Over the past few weeks I have been spending the majority of my time helping with preparations for a major fundraising and awareness raising event in London on 15th April. This prestigious evening event was held to raise funds for the Making History Project, a £26.6 million redevelopment at St Fagans National History Museum, and in particular, to support Llys Rhosyr – A Medieval Princes’ Court, a replica of which is currently being constructed on site at St Fagans. This is being built with the facilities for schoolchildren to sleep over, allowing them to experience what life may have been like in Wales in medieval times. Ian Daniel, Learning, Participation & Interpretation Officer at St Fagans (who, to the delight of our guests, arrived at the black tie event in full medieval costume) and Dr Steve Burrow - Head of Historic Properties, told our guests all about the project.
Although throughout the past 6 months at the museum I have worked on events, I hadn’t realised quite how much more preparation this particular one would take. The event was aimed at legal professionals who might be interested in supporting such an innovative project about Welsh history. The events I have previously worked on have been for the Patrons of Amgueddfa Cymru, or other current supporters, donors and sponsors; this guest list however, was created to cultivate new supporters. The guest list was a mix of legal professionals from London and Wales, as well Trustees of Amgueddfa Cymru. Many were unaware of the major project at St Fagans and the event was a great way of informing them of our plans and our need for support.
It is really positive to gain support from people who may not always get the chance to visit the museum, busy legal professionals are unlikely to be able to take the time to travel from London to Wales to see our collections. Yet they showed great interest in the work of Amgueddfa Cymru and really enjoyed learning about the project.
Ticket sales went extremely well and the event was a huge success. All our guests enjoyed the evening immensely and took home all of the literature we had prepared. It seems our aim of gaining support from further afield has started brilliantly with this event, and has put us in a really great position for our next London event later this year. Hopefully we will even be able to give some of our guests from Gray’s Inn a tour of St Fagans in the not too distant future!
Week 27: Olivia Richardson, NoFit State Circus
Why writing a funding application is just like writing a great, cheesy pop song…
All great songs have a great structure. All* (*most) songs are unique but yet all share a common structural denominator – a wonderful balance between repetition and bursts of brand new information.
The best way to keep your listener absorbed is to give them something new and exciting every so often, while still delivering enough familiarity to maintain their engagement. Just like a funding application!
(“Ahhh we see what you’re doing now Olivia – this is clever!” I hear you say…)
With writing it is very much the same. Think of your application being a brand new song on the radio from a brand new artist – you know nothing about this artist or what their music is about, just like funders. Make sure, like a catchy chorus, you keep hammering home your main themes and ideas for your organisation - get your project stuck in their head all day. Pad around these main themes with the rest of the information that they need to know – things that may only need saying once or twice. Maybe add a ‘bridge’ offering a new perspective? This might be in the form of a testimonial for example, or other sources that back up your overall ask. Finally, we reach the last chorus. The climax of the ballad. The bit we’ve all been waiting for. Make the ask - and leave it ringing in their ears!
The trick to a great pop song melody? Keep. It. Simple.
The simpler the melody, the easier it is to remember. Seems obvious right?
When writing to funders, it’s really really easy to overcomplicate things. Again, remember the person reading this doesn’t know your organisation as well as you do, so make it understandable. If your application is too complex, it will alienate your funder. Get someone who knows absolutely nothing about what your writing about to read it first. If they’re confused…start again!
In layman’s terms, the chords that sit under the melody. This is the music in the background that determines the overall feel and pace of the song.
And just like a song, your funding application needs this underpinning too. Do your research into what your funder likes and dislikes and choose the tone of your application accordingly. Make sure your ‘melody’ fits with your chosen funder or you are simple going to waste both your time and theirs.
Do I need to explain this one? The words of the song. The bit that seems oh so easy and is really the hardest part
Can you sum your huge idea into a lovely, succinct, few paragraphs? It can be so tempting to waffle for pages on end about your fabulous idea but try and keep your word count down. Every so often, there will be the opportunity and space to write ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘American Pie’ or ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but most of the time there will be a word count. Just keep it a short and simple ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ and get as much information into your 300-word box as possible. Make every.word.count.
Follow this method and instead of being a one hit wonder or a chart show flop, you’ll be releasing your greatest hits album in no time and ‘Top of the Pops!’
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Week 26: Louisa Turner, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
I have a great sense of accomplishment this week. But also relief.
After 2 months of slogging away at the same application, I have finally sent it off! I made sure I kissed the envelope… (Apparently that’s a thing in fundraising). In fact, I practically snogged it I was that happy to be sending it!
Although, I must admit, I got very frustrated with all the re-drafting I did, I feel I’ve made a huge improvement with my writing skills. So even if it doesn’t get a ‘yes’, I can still feel happy that I’ve accomplished something and enhanced my writing in the long term. It’s quite a fitting time really. Easter is sometimes related to fresh new things and a time to clean out all the old cobwebs and I now feel I can start afresh on something new and I’m ready for a new challenge.
Speaking of challenges, a few weeks ago, I, like Ava below, made my ‘television debut’ on Made in Cardiff. It reminded me of how it is such a skill to be able to stand in front of people and speak eloquently about what you do, and how prepared you need to be before you go into these situations. Having a passion and love of your work does help significantly, but it’s also good to have a few key points worked out in your head beforehand.
It was a really good chance to express just how much the Creative Internship scheme has benefitted me. At the end of the internship, I’ll be able to put on my CV that I’ve had a full 10 months of practical working experience in an office environment. I am now much more attractive to an employer because of this, not to mention the fact that arts organisations around the UK are in much need of fundraisers, so I can confidently say that my career prospects seem much higher than they were before.
Week 25: Ava Plowright, Wales Millennium Centre
Unbelievably, here we are at the end of March! And for us in the Development team at the Centre, this can only mean one thing – the dreaded end of the Financial Year.
The last few weeks have been filled with chasing invoices, reconciling our accounts and working extra hard to ensure we bring in any last donations before the cut-off point. All of this is to ensure we perform as well as possible against our fundraising target for the year, to make sure the amazing community and educational projects held at the Centre can continue.
Amongst all the busy financial work, last week I made my TV debut representing Arts & Business Cymru and the Creative Internships initiative, on the Made in Cardiff channel. Although it was a slightly scary prospect, I was really happy to help raise awareness for this scheme which has already benefitted me in so many ways, and was really impressed with the outcome!
Doing this interview got me thinking about the Creative Internships scheme and its value. Looking back to the beginning of my Masters study in Arts Management, I would never have predicted that, a year and a half later, I would be actively pursuing a career in fundraising. I hardly even realised that fundraising was an actual job within the arts. Learning about fundraising was, and still is, a revelation to me – I’ve discovered a path which is compatible with my skillset, which lets me work closely with the artistic world which has always been so close to my heart, and which, most importantly, has the power to really make a difference.
I can’t help thinking that there are lots of students out there who, like me, are desperate to forge a career in the arts but are unsure how to make this a reality. Arts fundraising offers a real, viable career path for students and graduates like us, whilst also offering the chance to help the arts to survive and thrive. This makes it even more important that we continue to reinforce the importance of arts fundraising, and spread the message far and wide.
Week 24: Lauren Swain, National Theatre Wales
I am currently enjoying a really exciting week with a whole mixture of fundraising experiences, whilst relishing being part of the life here at NTW!
I have just heard back from a trust application that I completed in early February and was delighted to hear that NTW has been awarded a grant to take on a Communications Assistant full-time for 12 months, which will hugely support our on-going marketing strategy and in particular our digital focus. So that is a lovely bit of news and will relieve some of the pressure of a small workforce.
This morning we had an inspiring meeting with our artistic collaborators for a performance project in 2016. Prior to getting together, NTW had ordered every book published by a particular writer and we each chose one to take home and read. This was part of the process to inspire our ideas for the content, focuses and locations of the project (which is top secret, so sorry I am being so vague!). In true NTW style, the entire of our workforce joined the creative planning meeting to contribute to the mind-map of ideas! And even more in NTW style, we baked cakes inspired by the themes or features of the books and brought them along!
NTW is designed as a democratic organisation, with communication and collaboration at the core of how it operates. In this way staff of all levels and departments are given the opportunity to share ideas - valuing that inspiration comes from all sorts of people. We often utilise this approach when developing new fundraising ideas too.
As an organisation we have designed the new payment pathway for our upcoming new website, deciding where an “ask” should come into it. Later this week, those of us with development responsibilities are coming together to decide the wording of the online “ask” and design the donation pathway that would follow. This is all part of communicating NTW’s work, values and opportunities both clearly and further, updating our digital contents. We are also planning to spread the word further in person and I am looking at a number of upcoming networking events where we can represent NTW. This will serve as preparation for our first London based cultivation event in June, which I am currently building up our guest list for – exciting times ahead!
I am also focusing on a number of other tasks, such as sourcing in-kind help to review our current IT systems and understand whether we are using the best digital solutions for a company of our nature. However, our development strategy underpins everything we are working towards and we are currently working out where else we need to bring in investment to support our ambitions. As part of this I am conducting research into ethical fundraising, which will lead to a number of guidelines that the organisation can follow when considering new funders. These will set out how we can maintain the integrity of NTW’s values and will inform the types of corporates that I then approach to sponsor our 2015 Christmas show.
Week 23: Alexandra Roberts, National Museum Wales
Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about Philanthropy. When considering possible nominations for the Arts & Business Cymru Philanthropy Award, we needed to consider whether our individual supporters would want the attention of winning an award. Initially this seemed quite odd to me, these are people who work hard to support Amgueddfa Cymru, both financially and as ambassadors, why would they not want acknowledgment and thanks for their selfless generosity? This, along with the competitor analysis I have been doing for our ‘Support Us’ page on our website, has really made me question people’s motivation to give. I’ve been reading through our Patrons questionnaire, seeing why our regular supporters say they give and comparing other charities websites to see what it is about other organisations which would entice me to give.
A lot of the time, a charity cannot offer much more than gratitude, and most donors aren’t looking for much in terms of a reward, yet people are inclined to give. The tactics used for charities such as children’s charities are easier to understand. Personally, if someone shows me a picture of a starving child or a sick puppy, I’m not going to walk away, especially not without feeling a sense of guilt. We feel a sense of responsibility to look after those less fortunate, and the majority of the time when I see a charity campaign using these methods, I don’t even read the majority of the information provided before deciding it is a worthy cause.
It is understandably a completely different story when it comes to arts organisations. Our support relies on our ability to validate the work the museum does, and show the effect it has on the community. We also rely on other people’s passions, towards art, archaeology, science, history, and heritage, for them to want to see our projects succeed and our vision met.
This question of why individuals give philanthropically is something I can’t pretend to have the answers to, everyone is different; whether it’s knowing that their grandkids can learn about Welsh History, or wanting to see a specific art work displayed. Each person has their own reason for supporting arts organisations, and it’s proving to be a really interesting task trying to find out.
I’m now at the halfway point in my internship. Looking back at these past 5 months I have definitely learnt a lot and enjoyed my time here so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 5 months bring!
Week 22: Olivia Richardson, NoFit State Circus
There, I said it.
Well, I was.
Even so, present or past, admitting you’re struggling a teensy bit is a huge thing. (It is for me anyway!)
I’ve always been a pretty independent person. I don’t like to rely on other people and I like to think I don’t need help. I think some of it is a bit of Napoleon Complex. Standing at only 5ft tall, I’ve had my fair share of ‘do you want me to get that for you?’ or ‘do you need a hand with that?’ and all of these questions have been met with a resounding ‘no’. I’ve got this. I can and I will do this – even if I know in my head it’s going to be difficult.
I’d been stressing over writing a particular trust application for quite a while and I’ll be the first to admit it just kept getting put to the bottom of the pile. The more I put off writing it, the worse my writers block got and it reached a point where enough was enough. I had to admit I was stuck.
I met with my Arts Mentor Alison where we talked it through - and what a relief it was. Even just voicing my problem helped enormously. By not talking about what I was finding challenging, I was making the problem much bigger than it needed to be and so we first worked out some reasons why I was feeling the way I was and then we started to map out a solution.
For me, I needed to see where my application was going to fit in in the bigger picture of NoFit State. I needed to know the consequences of the money I was raising. I guess knowing that the money I raised would truly make a difference and knowing exactly where it would end up was a massive incentive to not only get an application in but to make it a great one.
For me, the past five months has been one of the biggest learning curves I have ever been on. I have learnt things about myself I had never encountered before and it has made me start to question some of the things I had always assumed about myself.
Sometimes you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do.
Sometimes things aren’t as difficult as you think they are.
Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and ask for help.
Week 21: Louisa Turner, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
For this blog post I thought I’d talk about one of the Arts and Business courses I recently took: Managing Performance.
This was something that was particularly timely for me as I come to the half way point in the internship. As a busy professional, time can quickly get away with you and before you know it, two months have passed without you taking a step back and reviewing your progress.
Setting goals and expectations has been a key part of my meetings with my line manager at the Royal Welsh and has been something that I have found very beneficial. For me, it has made sure that I am focused and understand my next steps. For my manager it helps him to give me the support I need and make sure my work is fitting in well with the wider strategy.
Although I am nowhere near management level yet, it is definitely something I would like to do in the future. Good management doesn’t have to be difficult, and it can also be improved by the employee understanding the role of the manager too. Employees need to encourage their manager to sit down and have regular appraisals and the employee needs to feel like a valued member of the team. Bad management can mean a lack of communication and therefore a lack of trust which leads to low morale.
Poor performance can often be down to a number of things: bad health, personal problems, and difficulties with work colleagues, workload or a lack of training. Quite often these things can go unnoticed by managers for a long time. This is why something as simple as having a regular one to one can be so important, for the manager to understand the needs of their employee and for the employee to know that they can seek help and know what is expected of them.
Luckily in the arts everybody is very passionate about what they do and we are all working towards a collective goal. What I have learnt in this internship is to always be honest and seek help when I need it. Even someone at the top of their game is learning every day and we all need support and encouragement from time to time.
In a world increasingly filled with technology, we must remember that we are not robots, but human beings.
Week 20: Ava Plowright, Wales Millennium Centre
Culture brings people together. This is something I have always known to be true. Music and theatre have brought about many of my friendships since childhood, and led me to meet people who have changed my life in so many ways. Creating community is one of the true benefits of the arts, and one of the reasons it remains not only important, but essential to society.
Wales Millennium Centre has become a living, breathing testament to the way in which creativity breeds togetherness this week, with the arrival of Home Sweet Home. This quirky project has turned our foyer into a miniature version of Cardiff, built entirely by our young visitors during half term week.
This is a project which has exceeded expectations amongst all of us at the Centre. It is visually so striking, with such high attention to detail – the miniature WMC and Millennium Stadium are particularly impressive! Each of us have been making daily visits to the foyer to see our miniature city as it grows, our days brightened by the cute additions – my own personal favourite is “Mollie’s Fairy House, Made with Love”. The children have all taken such pride in creating their houses, which is heart-warming to see.
The popularity of the project has been the best surprise of all – queues of families have descended on the foyer each morning, to get a chance to make their mark on mini-Cardiff. The hustle and bustle in the Centre this week, with so many children enjoying being creative together, is what this building, and the arts, should feel like. I hope that projects like this continue to happen. Our community deserves nothing less.
For us on the Development team, the Home Sweet Home project was a really tangible demonstration of the benefit the money we raise brings to the local community. Instead of sitting inside in front of the television, these children were spending their Half Term break doing something truly useful; learning, creating and thriving. Without the money Team Development raises, projects like this simply would not happen. I can’t help but think that local families would miss projects like this if they were to disappear.
At this halfway point of my Creative Internship, I have already learned that arts fundraising is often a difficult job. Difficult yes, but extremely rewarding and completely essential. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, after all.
Week 19: Lauren Webb, National Theatre Wales
I am about to reach a milestone in life, and after many months of planning I am getting married on February 7th – the biggest piece of event management I have ever done! In fact, by the time you will all be reading this I will be far away in Thailand, having a fabulous and beautiful adventure!!
NTW is also about to hit an exciting point in its journey, as it approaches its 5th birthday on March 1st. One of the youngest national theatres in the world, we have grown from a two man organisation to a team of 20. 39 productions and 3,349 events later, NTW has established its reputation for, as the Daily Telegraph puts it, reinventing the language of theatre with every show. The beautiful adventure continues this year with such an exciting line up of greatly varying productions - all to be announced in the first week of March!
To make the most of NTW’s anniversary, a significant part of my role is to match up and propose sponsorship of some of our bendigedig 2015 projects (we have also just started Welsh lessons here at NTW)! Just before Christmas I submitted my first proposal for corporate support, having helped on another, and I am currently preparing to make “the ask” for another new partnership.
To ready the way for future relationships we are also endeavouring to hold two large cultivation events, one in London around Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage, our next production that tells the life story of Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas, which will be touring throughout spring across Wales and England. The second will be in the Welsh Valleys around a performance that is yet to be announced. So, exciting work ahead!
In the meantime I will be working on a trust application and continuing research into individuals who our board have highlighted as potential new trustees. Overall, quite an active few months lined up, NTW moves so quickly that I am sure so many exciting happenings will have take place just in the time I am away. I might even take my Welsh homework away with me, so at least I am not behind on that!! Hwyl!!
Week 18: Elizabeth Day, Sinfonia Cymru
Wow, time sure does fly by quickly these days! Sadly this marks my final blog for the internship as my time on the scheme draws to a close.
For the last few months I’ve been staring at the pieces of a puzzle that I just knew would build an incre