Blog 2017/18

Blog 2017/18

Week 30: Sioned Young, Pontio

My time over these last few weeks has been mostly dedicated to putting together a grant application for an exciting youth project.  It’s aimed at creatively resolving a group’s disruptive engagement with the centre. With scope for three years’ funding, this was by far the biggest project I’ve worked on and I must admit, I did have my initial reservations about whether we’d be able to pull it together in time.

Thankfully, the experience of my arts mentors and their confidence in me and my work powered us through - it was a proud moment to press that ‘submit’ button on Friday.

Looking back on the process of putting the application together, it’s amazing how much I gained from a single fundraising task. Being such a complex grant and as Pontio is a part of Bangor University, it gave me the opportunity to work with a wide range of different departments. I learnt so much from everyone I worked with and I’ve also helped establish new relationships between Pontio and other departments within the University.

What I gained most, was some valuable confidence in myself and the work that I’m doing. I must give thanks to my mentors for their belief in me. It’s a big step up from the first grant application I made for a one-off event, but I’m thankful for the challenge. There’s no better way to learn than to be daring and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Next up, it’s a short chance to breathe and turn my attention to some sponsorship ideas. That is before a busy week of events including our Gwanwyn Festival Event (funded by my first successful grant application) a final staff training workshop for a local restaurant chain, and then down to Cardiff for the Arts & Business Cymru Awards. So, full steam ahead!

Week 29: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Summer has officially started, the sun is out, the students are back and we have the new Summer What’s On booklet, with the new performance programme.  It’s set to be another great term at the College, with exciting events, spectacular performances and the Arts & Business Cymru Awards!  I can’t wait.

This month was another whirlwind of activities.  At the start of the month I delivered my first ever sponsorship proposal and I’m happy to say it was a success!   Shortly following this, I found out that my trust application, to help support new writing was also a success!  This promptly resulted in me dancing round the office happily for a full five minutes!

Sadly, it can’t all be dancing in excitement, sometimes we do have to sit at our desks and get some very important jobs done.  I spent a lot of this month working with both the development team and the marketing team, developing a list of external people, who would need contacting about big news stories.  This was extremely useful as this month we’ve been able to announce the appointment of a new College Principal, Professor Helena Gaunt.  Whilst this was incredibly exciting news, it also meant all systems go trying to send the announcement out externally.  The list I’d been working on came in extremely handy!

As I say nearly every month – it’s been another fantastic month and full of new experiences – my advice to others is never expect two days to ever be the same!

Week 28: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Last month I was fortunate to be invited to observe a CultureStep panel meeting, which gave me an incredible insight into the decision making process of applications. Combining this experience with the recent A&B Cymru ‘5 Steps to Sponsorship Success’ workshop, I’m developing a better understanding of corporate partnerships. Something that I am hoping to utilise in the future.

Contributing to further my training, I’ve attended more Sherman 5 workshops open to Reps and staff; Autism Awareness training from Autism Puzzles Cymru and ‘supporting D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences’ with Jonny Cotsen. Commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales, Jonny, alongside Rachel Kinchin and Disability Arts Cymru, have created a new online document aiming to help companies and venues make their work and premises more accessible for D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences. (Link to the ‘toolkit’ can be found at the bottom)

The event I’ve been organising is fast approaching. This has been a particularly informative process, and another opportunity to expand my always increasing list of intern experiences. I’m excited to welcome our guests and hope they enjoy the evening.

In my previous blog, I mentioned that Killology, a co-production between Sherman Theatre and Royal Court Theatre, London was nominated for an Olivier Award in the Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre category. The Awards took place in early April and we were delighted to have won.

Week 27: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

You win some, you lose some.

That’s how the old saying goes.  And in the world of fundraising, I think it’s important to bear in mind day-to-day.  This month it was my time to learn that lesson, since I won some and lost some.

The good news is that applications made by myself to secure grants which would allow us to establish a new Academy for young people in North Wales have been successful! 

The bad news is that an application for a large core grant that I made was unsuccessful.  It was a little bit disappointing since I had a great feeling about it, and both myself and my manager felt I’d written a very strong application.  But as I discussed with fellow fundraisers since receiving the news, the “no’s” are all part of the job.

That said, the wins make it totally worth it.  It was a real boost to have those successes, and I feel spurred on by them to keep working even harder to achieve more for the company. 

Week 26: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru

As I move into the second half of my internship, I am reflecting on how jam-packed the first half of my placement has been whilst making sure the second half is even more so! So far I have taken part in training courses for GDPR (6 weeks away people!) and sponsorship, both of which have been really informative and relevant to the work I’m undertaking with Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru.

Of course, I’m not alone as every other organisation, including fundraisers, will be looking closely at their data processes to make sure everything is compliant before 25 May. But organisations in Wales will also be looking closely at 25 May for another reason as it’s the A&B Cymru Awards! Having worked the event last year during my internship with Wales Millennium Centre, I’m looking forward again to helping bring a fabulous evening of celebrating arts partnerships with businesses across Wales, especially sharing that experience with the rest of this year’s cohort of interns. I also have GURU Live - a one-day festival for career starters in the film, games and television industries - coming up next month with BAFTA Cymru shortly after the Awards, so the next month is going to bring lots of fresh events experience. This comes alongside another successful Curate evening with Sinfonia Cymru that happened a few weeks ago, which was also my first chance to see Friends and Patrons literature that I had written the copy for be circulated amongst audiences.

Feeling a lot more comfortable and prepared for the start of GDPR being enforced, I’m also feeling more comfortable with sponsorship approaches in the wake of training with A&B Cymru, which has helped me to produce a proposal in the last month and will also be necessary again when the sponsorship drive for the 2018 BAFTA Cymru Awards begins. 

Lastly, trusts and foundations have been a huge focus in the past 5 weeks – I have prepared several proposals for BAFTA Cymru, submitted a couple and am about to submit one more – and have worked hard on a trust strategy and research for Sinfonia Cymru. Over the next few weeks this will continue to be a big focus at Sinfonia as I put plans into action.

Week 25: Sioned Young, Pontio

My half-way review just before Easter gave me the chance to fully take in the broad range of fundraising opportunities I’ve been working on since starting here at Pontio. It may be busy at times but I love bouncing from one task to another and working with all my mentors to really establish a wide fundraising profile for Pontio.

A highlight this month was receiving a copy of our new May to August artistic programme which featured a page on our upcoming relaxed film screening and sing-along session for Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival, a month-long festival in May celebrating creativity in older age. This event is funded by a grant I secured back in January so it’s great to see the result of some of my fundraising work at Pontio.

Other highlights of this last month have included making positive progressive steps in establishing a Friends Membership Scheme at Pontio, finalising arrangements for staff training workshops at the centre for a local restaurant chain, and travelling down to Cardiff to learn some more about sponsorship.

Finally, a great thing about my internship is how I’m never too tied down to just following the targets set out at the start of the internship. I’ve learnt that fundraising is a balance of working on what’s needed in the future whilst also remembering to think about the here and now too.

So, when a reoccurring issue of a group’s disruptive engagement with the centre was raised a few weeks back we decided to jump on the chance to creatively resolve it. I’m now working on a grant application for a project to address the issue creatively. It’s a great chance for me to develop my grant-writing skills, work with different members of the Pontio team and get the chance to address some new and developing fundraising needs of the centre.

Week 24: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

What a month!  Following on from my half-way meeting, which gave me a chance to reflect on what I’ve already done and what I want to achieve, this month has been full on.  I’ve spent a month mixing performances (I saw 4 in 25 hours this week), events, training, a sponsorship proposal to plan and then to write, and some work that I can’t mention but that I’ve spent a lot of time on!  It’s felt very full on, but I’ve absolutely loved it.

We’ve had a consultant working with us this month on an exciting new strategy and I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with her, feeding back to the team what I’ve learnt.

There was also Arts & Business Cymru training this month on Sponsorship, which was fantastic timing as I’m currently preparing my first sponsorship proposal.  It took a long time and lots of mind maps to find the College’s perfect project that aligns closely to the sponsor’s needs, but I’m super excited to deliver my sponsorship proposal with my current plan.

This month, for the first time, I organised and led an event.  Last night we had a Friends Connect Evening and with many of my colleagues unable to attend that left me all the responsibility and I loved it! Perhaps it was first time luck but the performers were easy to work with, quick to respond to emails and played beautifully and the audience had a wonderful time.  I set myself three goals for this event:

1.       Stay cool under pressure

2.       Make sure I managed to talk to as many members as possible

3.       Spend time getting to know our new members that have joined this year

And I’m glad to say I achieved all three!  It really has been a month full of new experiences, but like most months, it has been absolutely fantastic!

Week 23: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

I am halfway through the internship.  The day I’m writing this was the halfway meeting, the point at which everyone involved in my internship – my line manager, my mentors, my A&B advisor, and me – all got together to talk about the internship up to this point. 

I always think I can work harder, try harder, be better.  I focus on the bits that can be improved, what I can learn from and what will make things most successful going forwards.  I don’t often think about the successes.  So, it was really nice in this meeting to have everyone reflect back to me what my successes have been.  Not only that but encouraging me to take pride in them.

So, what have I done? I have:

-          Led a successful individual fundraising campaign, for the Lesotho project.  Guiding 4 of our actors, we managed to exceed our £4,000 target.

-          Led on the application to Children in Need for 3-year funding of a new project.

-          Submitted a fair few trust applications. 

-          Singlehandedly written a £50,000 core funding bid.  The application is still pending, but I don’t reckon our Chief Exec. would have signed off on this if it weren’t any good.

-          Identified and pursued many new funding options for the organisation.

-          Helped to develop a new individual giving strategy.

-          And - still in progress - I’m leading on the small capital project to acquire a new van for the company, aiming for our target using all the fundraising avenues I can think of.

On top of this, I’ve achieved most of my targets for the internship set by both myself, and Hijinx.  We’re now looking at new ones for the next half of my time here, which I’m sure I’ll share next time.  So my big learning for this month: Celebrate the successes – it’s sometimes the boost you need!

Week 22: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Each time I come to write my blog, I reference my work plan and diary to see what I’ve been up to and decide what I’d like to share with the world. In my last blog update, I wrote about my looming midway point review meeting. Well that has now happened (don’t know why I was so worried!), and with Spring (and not snow), in the air, I’m excited to continue with the second half of my internship. Meeting with all of my mentors and line manager to discuss my work plan and progress was a good opportunity to re-evaluate my personal objectives and think about my future targets.

This week I attended a Sherman 5 (our outreach and engagement programme), ‘Refugee and Asylum Seeker’ workshop hosted by Leila Usmani, the Engagement and Training Officer at Cardiff City of Sanctuary. The training provided me with an insight into the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. There’s a few more Sherman 5 workshop events coming up that I’m due to attend, which will support me to write more informed applications.

My attention has recently been on event organisation. It’s very different from my usual work (which is always fantastically varied!). I’m enjoying the opportunity to do something new and gain experience in this area. There’s a lot more to event organisation that I previously thought! The Sherman Theatre office has again been buzzing with excitement from the news that Killology, a co-production between Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre and London’s Royal Court Theatre, has been nominated for an Olivier Award in the Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre category.

Speaking of events, last week myself and my line manager attended gofod3 2018 at Cardiff City Stadium last week, an event organised by Wales Council for Voluntary Action. There was a busy schedule of workshops, speakers and an exhibition space to visit. And next week I’m looking forward to attending another Arts & Business Cymru workshop, ‘5 Step Guide to Sponsorship Success’. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to catch up with the other interns!

Week 21: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru

What a dramatic week! “Snowmageddon” has come and gone, but not before making an impact on both of my organisations. Tour dates cancelled, event numbers reduced – but despite the challenges, I was able to make it to London for the most important opportunities of my career so far and a great end to a month of career firsts. 

BAFTA Cymru had its inaugural Gala Dinner at 195 Piccadilly on Friday night – and despite the snow knocking off a fair few numbers of attendees (and some of the talent!) a great night was had by all who made it. It was wonderful to see months of hard work by our team come to fruition and gain experience of working on a fundraising dinner event both in preparation beforehand and on the night. I feel like I have developed a deeper understanding of the many considerations involved with planning and budgeting for such an event – especially in unexpected circumstances - and I have come away with many lessons learned to take forward into the future. I have also recently submitted my first trust application for BAFTA.

After an enjoyable weekend in London, I attended my first fundraising conference on Monday – the Institute of Fundraising Cultural Sector Network National Conference, held in the formidable Barbican Centre. Attending this conference was very generously joint funded by both of my organisations and discounted by my free membership to the Young Arts Fundraisers network, and I’m most grateful to both Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru for supporting such a fantastic professional development opportunity which included:

  • Networking with fundraising professionals from across the UK, especially young arts fundraisers at similar stages in their career to my own
  • Keynote speeches from prominent figures in the cultural sector
  • A plenary session on GDPR (the main takeaway is: don’t panic!)
  • Insights on topics such as; engaging “millennial” donors and case studies into the giving motivations of young professionals, the benefits of becoming a young board member, career leadership in fundraising and lessons from senior fundraising and cultural sector professionals.

My personal highlight of the conference was learning lessons from senior fundraising professionals – something that stuck with me is this insight from the Development Director of Garsington Opera; "If I don't feel outside my comfort zone at least once a year, I don't feel like I'm learning". This certainly rings true for me. I have deliberately pushed myself further from my comfort zone this past month – speaking on a panel of fellow alumni from my school at Cardiff University about arts fundraising careers, travelling alone to a conference and setting goals with my mentors for continuing to push myself in the final 5 months of being a fundraising intern in both my organisations.

Week 20: Sioned Young, Pontio

The last few weeks here at Pontio have certainly been busy. I’ve been working on something different with each of my three arts mentors, a challenge at times, though I’m thankful to gain a good experience in so many fields.

With James Goodman, Structural and Regional Development Funds Manager at Bangor University, I’ve been working on a grant application to a Welsh charity for a Creative Multi-Purpose Storage unit for the centre. With Elen ap Robert, Pontio Arts’ Artistic Director and James, I’ve been developing a Sponsorship Package for the businesses who attended our Business Engagement event in January. I’ve had great fun putting it together and having something on hand which will give businesses an insight into the centre, our community work and the different ways of supporting us.

My third arts mentor; Sheila O’Neal, Bangor University’s Executive Director of Development alongside my Line Manager Eleri Davies have been working with me to further develop a Membership Scheme for Pontio. Though this is unfamiliar territory for us here I’m looking forward to launching something new which will hopefully be a good fundraising initiative for Pontio and a good way for me to leave my mark of impact when I leave in the summer.

Outside of work I also attended an Arts Council Wales meeting ‘Have your Say’, where young people passionate about the arts got to meet and have our say on the future of arts funding in Wales. It was great hearing everybody’s individual stories on why they love the arts and need the continuation of its funding. Most importantly the evening reminded me how passionate I am myself about funding the arts in Wales and how I glad I am that my work as an arts fundraiser can help secure exactly that.

Week 19: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

This week has been a busy one.  On Tuesday and Wednesday our College Symphony Orchestra played to nearly 2000 school children as part of Orchestradventure!.  The concert was devised to capture the imagination of 7 – 11 year olds through the power of a live symphony orchestra and presenter.  Prior to the concert, some of the College students went out to hold workshops with some of the children attending.  I attended one of the workshops with one of the event sponsors, who is also my business mentor, Karen Welch, from Western Power Distribution.  The workshops were wonderful as all the children got to try the instruments as well as learn about the music and dance along.  The concert itself was something else, as we filled both St David’s Hall on Tuesday and Carmarthen Leisure Centre twice on Wednesday.  It was wonderful to see so many children’s attention captured by the music as they danced and conducted along.

On both days we held a reception for guests prior to the concerts, mostly with people who are doing similar outreach work as us, alongside the sponsors and other people working in the arts sector.  It was another wonderful taste of working at and managing events, and this time, outside of the College. So alongside planning timings, seating plans and guest lists there was the added extra of liaising with staff in different venues.

It was an incredible event to work on and part of me wishes we could keep carrying it on forever, but the other part of me knows I need to get back to my desk!  So the rest of this week has been spent on Spektrix, running reports (again), cross checking lists, gaining top-up donation statistics and writing reports.  It has been a busy week!

Week 18: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Here at Sherman Theatre, we’re beating the winter blues with the unveiling of our new redeveloped foyer. After a busy month of plaster, paint and pink (you won’t miss the box office), we’re elated to reopen and kick off our Spring season with Dublin Carol. There’s a new food and drinks menu too, as well as the new-look foyer area which boasts better access, atmosphere and opportunity to utilise the space for performances. And if that wasn’t enough to brighten up those dull drizzly days, we recently won Regional Theatre of the Year at The Stage Awards in London. Being the first Welsh theatre to win this award, we’re ecstatic to direct focus onto the brilliance of the arts in Wales.

By the time of my next blog update I’ll have reached the halfway point on the Creative Internship. I can’t quite believe how fast it’s gone, but writing these regular blogs serves as a useful opportunity to glance back and review what I’ve accomplished in that time. Reading through my previous blog updates, I can trace my progress and I feel fortunate to have entered Sherman Theatre at an interesting point whereby I’m seeing successful applications made into reality.

Speaking of, I’m continuing my work on drafting applications to Trusts and Foundations and learning more about the long-term strategies of fundraising. In addition to this, I’m expanding my development in attending the Arts & Business Cymru courses hosted by Spindogs. All of which have provided a new insight into how fundraising and marketing share a symbiotic relationship.

These training sessions on social media strategies, digital content, and Google analytics have provided me with a better understanding of how our fundraising message can be utilised to direct our web traffic. I previously didn’t know what effect our digital fundraising content would have on maximising web traffic and reach of our target audience – it’s a whole new world of Google analytics, keywords and meta description tags!

Week 17: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

If you’ve been following my blog (and if you haven’t, where ya been?) you’ll know that each month I like to share a little bit of what I’ve learned.  This month I’ve learnt that my car doesn’t like cold weather, that driving all over the country is not a restful way to spend one’s Christmas holiday, and that fundraising strategy is just as important as the actions of fundraising itself. 

At Hijinx, I’m working across many different projects, and trying to tackle as many fundraising streams as possible.  After my first few weeks, it became apparent that means it’s easy to lose track of where I am with everything.  Enter my incredible mentors – Rich and Lynne.  Both told me I needed to get a proper plan down on paper, with step by step actions and deadlines.  Fab – did that, and it really helped me to organise me thoughts and manage my work.  However, the document I created didn’t quite click everything into place.

Luckily, one of the perks of being an Arts & Business intern is the amount of training you get to attend.  Last week was their Planning a Fundraising Strategy workshop, which was the exact thing that I needed!  It affirmed to me that the plan I already had contained all the right elements, just not perhaps in the right order or format.  Now I’m working on updating that plan to rectify those problems, hopefully making me even more efficient.

It was good to know that the content of the plan was there already.  I even made a successful call to a Trust (see my previous blog post for context) and was quite happy to dive into chatting sponsorship with a potential business sponsor during a visit earlier this week.  I think it shows that my instincts in the job are sharpening, and I’m becoming far more confident in my role. 

Week 16: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

As we move into 2018, strategy is my buzzword for January. At Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru, the new year has brought with it fresh fundraising challenges, primarily concerning trusts and foundations - though at BAFTA securing sponsorship for an upcoming event, which I started to plan before Christmas, is also high up on the priority list. As both organisations have requested making fresh approaches to trusts and foundations - as opposed to building on a previous relationship (which I don’t have prior experience of) – it’s time to implement a strategy, plan out my prospects, effectively prepare my approaches and (hopefully) relax in the knowledge that I’ve laid the groundwork for a successful application to go forward. Aside from increased organisational skills and time management, it’s going to take new confidence to put myself out there as the fundraising face of my organisations after less than 4 months working there split between both offices, but I am seeking advice from my mentors as I get to grips with a new challenge. I expect I will also benefit from a very timely upcoming session on Fundraising Strategy with Arts & Business Cymru.

The year started well at Sinfonia, with another grant secured – but my next couple of weeks will be focused quite heavily on building a trusts strategy for near future fundraising, and then seeing that forward with the assistance of our new CEO, Peter Bellingham – alongside making headway with the Individual Giving strategy I prepared earlier in the internship. This is a bittersweet time for Sinfonia Cymru as we say farewell to Sophie Lewis, who has been at the helm of the orchestra for 11 years, will be much missed, and by all accounts has been an excellent boss over the last three and a half months and pivotal to my career development – I am very sad to see her go! We’re all confident though that Peter Bellingham, who joins us from National Youth Arts Wales and moves over from our Board of Trustees, is an excellent choice as her successor and I look forward to working with him in the latter part of my internship. Before Sophie leaves to take up Managing Director at National Children's Orchestras of Great Britain, Sinfonia Cymru are hosting the ABO Conference alongside BBC NOW and WNO next week, giving me an opportunity to improve my networking skills (my blog has been prepared a little early, as I won’t have long to draft it whilst I’m volunteering at and enjoying the conference – by the time this goes up it will already have passed!).

BAFTA are keeping me on my toes as well – as already mentioned, I am conducting similar trust research and planning to my work at Sinfonia whilst balancing my time with sending out sponsorship proposals, responding to prospects, and keeping track of the progress. I’m looking forward to our team away day next week – I think it will be very useful for me to spend some time away from my desk and strategize (there’s that word again!) with the whole BAFTA Cymru team. At the start of a new year, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to take stock of how far along with my fundraising goals I am, and how best I can meet them in the last months of my internship. Bring it on!

Week 15: Sioned Young, Pontio

It was a very Happy New Year for myself and the team at Pontio as I returned to work after the Christmas break to hear the great news that my first grant application had been a success! The grant is from Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival, a month-long festival in May which celebrates creativity in older age. With the money we’ll be holding a screening of a classic film, followed by a singalong session– particularly targeting dementia patients and older people who are prone to social isolation. It’ll be a great chance to bring new audiences into Pontio and hopefully work with local businesses to fund this as a permanent fixture in Pontio’s programme.

The majority of the New Year since returning to work has been focused on organising a business engagement event at Pontio for local businesses, followed by a performance of circus company Pirates of the Carabina’s brand new production: Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine on Thursday the 18th of January.

The event was an opportunity to inform these businesses of Pontio’s broad spectrum of outreach work and its worth whilst also introducing them to contemporary circus - a popular element of the programming at Pontio. I had a great time organising the event and gained some good practice in communicating Pontio’s aims and what we have on offer here to potential supporters.

The evening gave me great confidence in making a start at talking to businesses about fundraising and learning about what they’d like out of working together too.

Above all else, this event reminded me these people at the end of the day aren’t names on paper to be intimidated about approaching with Pontio’s great aims, but instead simply normal people like you and I who want to see the arts in Wales prosper.

Week 14: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Happy New Year!

I my last blog I wrote all about our upcoming events; well now they have happened! Each one was unique and they have all had positive outcomes in different ways.  Our UBS event aim was to grow our membership scheme as well as include our London donors more.  It was fantastic, when a few days later, the new member’s forms started coming in.  At our Opera Gala, we were launching our new Opera School and it went down phenomenally. Our patrons were delighted by the student’s performances.  They certainly seemed to clap the longest, loudest and most enthusiastically!  Our behind the scenes events also went well with our patrons gaining the opportunity to see how their support benefits our students.

Just before the Christmas holidays, and after all the events, I sent out our December mailing, lots of people, lots of information (including the what’s on and an autumn round up) and lots of envelopes! 

We’ve now also gone live on Spektrix!  Since then, much of my time has involved working out what it can do, how it does it and sorting out information.  I’ve scanned in and am about to upload the gift aid declarations.  I’m cleaning up old records that are out of date and am refreshing them, and I’m learning about how reports are run.  We’ve had many meetings about how things will be laid out and run for the future!

When I’m not doing that I’m starting to work on a few trust applications.  With one I’m in initial concept meetings, working out exactly what funding we need for the project and what it’s aims and objectives are.  The second application, for a different project, is already fully planned and now I just need to finish the application and send it off with my fingers crossed!

Week 13: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Happy New Year from Sherman Theatre! Just before Christmas, I received the fantastic news that an application I had written was successful. The New Year has inspired a contemplative reflection on my progress and experiences of the Creative Internship so far. A vital part of the internship is to learn on the job, and I’ve been considering the value of experience and how small exercises can build towards improving a wider skills set. Writing the application provided me with a useful opportunity to re-familiarise myself with Sherman Theatre’s artistic direction and its significant outreach and participation programmes. From this I can speak about Sherman Theatre with more confidence at networking events– a particular area that I’ve been wanting to work on.

As suggested by my business mentor, I’ve attended several networking events and workshops to better my skills and further my networking experience - practice makes perfect! One really useful session was hosted by Shamaine Robinson and run by the Chartered Management Institute Cymru, (CMI Cymru.) Seeing a fellow dyslexic sufferer speak confidently, knowing from experience how difficult that can be, was inspiring.

Last but not least, as a recent graduate of the University of South Wales, I was honoured to speak about my Creative Internship and the experiences I had whilst studying as part of their online Graduate Success Stories. I’m hoping that it’ll inspire more USW students to apply for the internship in the future.

You can read it here:

Week 12: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

One of the reasons I chose to go into fundraising is to challenge myself.  I have always found it a struggle to be confident and approach people.  In fundraising, all you’re doing is approaching people – and you’re approaching people to do one of the things that we as people feel somewhat uncomfortable about: Asking for money!  This is sometimes simpler to do from behind a computer in the form of an email, or trust application.  It’s less easy to do over the phone – especially when cold calling – and even more so in person.

This past month has taught me some things that will set me on my way to overcoming this problem in my professional life.  Early in November, I attended a training course run by the Independent Theatre Council on Effective Fundraising.  It was a great day-long workshop, mainly focused on trusts, some of whom I was familiar with already. 

There were two main lessons I took from it though:

-          Firstly, contacting a trust via the phone is just a conversation between two people.  Don’t get mentally weighed down by the fact that they are gatekeepers to money you wish to access; you get flustered and make mistakes.

-          Secondly, trusts exist because they WANT to help charities.  So why wouldn’t they want to hear from you?

Towards the end of November, I attended the Arts & Business Cymru Fundraising Symposium.  I got to hear from some great trusts. Amanda McMurray, from Colwinston Charitable Foundation, told us that she likes to hear from people who are considering applying, because it means everyone can be on the same page.  

The worst that can happen is that you come away from a conversation like this with the knowledge that this trust is not going to support your organisation.  This saves everyone time.  I must ask myself, is that really a bad thing?  My answer is no, it’s a good thing!  

Week 11: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

At both Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru, I’m currently challenging myself to speak creatively about what I do to strengthen my fundraising overall.

When peers and new acquaintances have asked what it is I do for a living, I’ve usually said; “I’m an arts fundraiser. Currently in my second year of training.” Normally this elicits a confused response…

“What, shaking a bucket, door-to-door or something?”
“Wow, I never even considered that would be a career option. What kind of thing do you do?”
A few jokers amongst my friends have suggested, “I’m an artist, can you raise me some funds?”

Seeing as arts fundraising is not often a public-facing, obvious role, this is understandable. In the past I’ve found replies like these challenging to answer comprehensively. Despite explaining “I raise charitable income for arts organisations”, people are still confused as to what my daily tasks are or why a separate job role is necessary. Given the varied nature of what I am doing day-to-day, which is anything from writing copy for new donation boxes to having tea with a current patron in order to get feedback on a membership scheme, reeling off my to-do list doesn’t clarify the role either.

I’ve identified in the past with A&B Cymru that an area of weakness for me is becoming bogged down in details and immediate priorities, rather than big picture thinking - “why am I doing this, and why is it an important and valuable use of my time and the organisation’s time”? Thinking creatively about the bigger picture helps me to communicate this value to others, and answering their questions in turn challenges me to inspire them to my cause.

The work I’ve done recently with both Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru has been inspirational. In drafting copy for Sinfonia’s charitable messaging as part of my individual giving strategy, and researching for BAFTA sponsorship proposals and trust applications, I’ve drilled down into their core value, assessing and reassessing examples of great impact on individuals and evidence of need. I’m looking forward to evaluating this from the perspective of a funder at the upcoming A&B Cymru CultureStep panel as well. Big-picture thinking keeps me passionate as a fundraiser, and illustrates how essential to organisations having the ability to radiate that passion outwards is – and therefore why it requires a dedicated role! From research, to relationship building, to the success of bringing in another grant, donation or sponsorship (I’m currently celebrating grant success at Sinfonia!) – these are not separate from how I tell my story at any time the opportunity arises, and only strengthens deliberate fundraising pitches. “Arts fundraiser” isn’t just a job title I slip on at 9am and take off again at 5.30 – it’s very much a full-time career.

As former Jerwood Charitable Foundation director Shonagh Manson has said; “You are fundraising all the time”.

Week 10: Sioned Young, Pontio

These last five weeks have been very much a taste of everything. With three mentors within Pontio and the University I’ve been introduced to a whole range of elements relevant to fundraising. Sheila O’Neal, the University’s Director of Development, has tasked me with exploring the potential of developing a subscription service for Pontio.

With Elen ap Robert, Pontio’s artistic director we’ve been in discussion with 3rd sector organisations on partnerships projects. Also, rather excitingly, I’ve started planning a corporate event for January, where I’ll be inviting local businesses and potential supporters to Pontio to see an eagerly anticipated new production from circus company Pirates of the Carabina.

In the last five weeks I’ve also had the chance to attend a selection of events. Last week I assisted Arts & Business in their North Wales Networking Event over in MOSTYN Gallery in Llandudno.

Two days later I travelled down to Cardiff for Arts & Business’ Fundraising Symposium. I got to hear from a range of trusts and foundations about what factors determine success in a grant application. It was useful as I’m currently working on my first small grant application to assist in funding a potential silver screening event. This will also be an opportunity to help tackle the current rise in social isolation within the older generation, and introduce new audiences to Pontio

Attending the Symposium also gave me the chance to meet arts fundraisers from across Wales and catch up with two of my fellow interns, Johnny and Lucy. It was a big relief to hear that they had faced some of the same initial obstacles and breakthroughs as myself and although all four of other interns may be on the other side of the country I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of this internship journey with them and see us blossom into (hopefully!) great fundraisers.

Week 9: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

This month has been events, events, events, with a little sprinkling of databases, GDPR and research.   I’m currently helping with four events and I’m also the RSVP for them all.  On Thursday we had some Patrons in for a behind the scenes rehearsal of the Winter Opera Gala.  Upcoming, we have an event in London at the start of December at UBS, our philanthropy sponsor’s English headquarters, a behind the scenes event around Christmas on Broadway for our patrons and lastly we have the Winter Opera Gala on Saturday.

The Gala will showcase our opera singers and launch the start of The David Seligman Opera School, which starts a partnership between the College and the WNO.  The Gala will also feature Maestro Carlo Rizzi and the WNO Orchestra.  We are expecting over 100 guests at our pre-concert reception, and there are so many different parts to the reception, we have events within events!  It’s taken huge amounts of planning, but now it’s all done, so fingers crossed for a great event.

Earlier this month, I actually got to attend an event, rather than help plan it.  I recently attended a Community Foundation in Wales event.  It was a fantastic opportunity to meet more people who work within the same circle as me within Cardiff, and find out more about local charities and organisations.

On the other side of things, I can now renew and process new memberships all by myself.  I’m attending a GDPR talk next week and as we switch database systems next month to Spektrix, and I’ve been to several training events for that.  Everyone told me Christmas was a busy time at the College and so far they’ve been right!

Week 8: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Since my last blog post I’ve kept up my momentum of learning and joined the Sherman 5 Reps to submerse myself within the fantastic Sherman 5 project. To quickly sum up, Sherman 5, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, offers free membership and is designed to give people who have never attended a performance at Sherman Theatre the chance to do so. As part of my training, I’ve attended a ‘Visual Awareness’ workshop by the Cardiff Institute for the Blind prior to volunteering at both the audio described and captioned performance of The Cherry Orchard.

By immersing myself within the fantastic Sherman 5 project, I’ve gained a better insight into how the prospective plans and ambitions for the scheme may evolve. This will aid me in drafting my own applications. And, feeling inspired by the Sherman 5 ethos, I pitched a photo legacy project to its coordinator, Guy O'Donnell, utilising my background as a photographer/video artist.

I aim to photograph or support members to use photography as a means of visually explaining their journey to the theatre. It’ll provide an opportunity for us to learn from the experiences of our members, create another means of communication between individuals and invite renewed discussions about the project and accessibility to the theatre.

Aside from that, approaching Christmas, I’ve found myself deep in research mode, updating information on our Trusts and Foundations and writing my own first draft of an application. Next week I’m attending CMI Cymru’s ‘The Power of Networking’ event and the’ Fundraising Symposium’, Supported by the Hodge Foundation to improve my networking skills. Continuing my personal involvement with the arts in Wales, next week I’m exhibiting my work at Art on the Hill in Newport.

Week 7: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

The first month of my time at Hijinx has been largely spent learning about the organisation. How it works, what it does, who’s involved – but critically what it needs. I said the last time I wrote a post how incredibly lucky I felt to be part of the organisation, and that’s still true. This is due in large part to the volume of work it does, who it reaches and the impact it has on their lives. As such, it needs the financial resources to keep going. So, it’s lucky – what with my job being to raise money – that I’ve been placed with an organisation whose vision I back so passionately.  Because a huge bonus for fundraising is that you really believe in what you’re doing.

As well as learning about the organisation, I’ve spent a lot of time this month getting my ducks in a row. I’m putting a fundraising plan together for the next few months. This has included creating a database of Trusts and Foundations to apply to from in-depth research into prospects. It’s time consuming, but actually a very helpful use of my time. I’ve also been redeveloping our process for individual giving, researching and selecting a new online giving platform to implement through our website. I’ve also been auditing and beginning to rewrite fundraising material – both electronic and looking at print options.

I also got to head to London for a training course with the Independent Theatre Council on Effective Fundraising. A great day in which we covered the aspects of Trusts fundraising, as well as getting a lot of time to role-play situations where we meet with funders. 

Week 6: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

A month in – what a jam-packed four weeks they have been. It feels like I’ve been here longer than a month, but the time has also flown by.

Following Curate #BowDown with Sinfonia Cymru - which was a tremendous eye-opener into the refreshing programming that Sinfonia put together – I’ve had a highly productive and exciting few weeks. Beginning with preparing and submitting a couple of trust applications gave me a good grasp on Sinfonia Cymru’s mission, direction, regular programme of events and also the especially fresh and unusual projects which are in the works. Attending Curate, and one of the recent tour dates for some of Sinfonia’s more traditional programming, helped me to scope out the gaps in our fundraising efforts and where we can improve. This has ultimately led me to prepare a full individual giving strategy for the organisation, which I have presented to the Chief Executive in the last week. I am really enthusiastic about it as this is a fundraising challenge I haven’t faced before, having never prepared my own strategy or felt real ownership of it in the same way. This is a real chance to think especially creatively and explore new avenues to attract greater individual support, and I can’t wait to get started. I have also met and received advice so far from my arts mentor around this, so I am feeling greatly inspired by the opportunities ahead.

With a very different focus, my time at BAFTA Cymru so far has mostly been concentrated on stewarding corporate relationships in the follow-up to the awards. I’ve prepared the awards sponsors and partners reports detailing the benefits of working with the Cymru Awards and thanking them for their support, which will hopefully incentivise them to support again in 2018. I have done some preliminary research for trusts and foundations applications and have also been introduced to members of the fundraising team in London, who are working with us to fundraise for a programme of activity to come to Wales. I am looking forward next to devising a fundraising strategy for the organisation relating to this activity and upcoming events that BAFTA Cymru are planning for 2018. 

Week 5: Sioned Young, Pontio

If I were to describe myself over my first three weeks at Pontio I’d have to say like a sponge, absorbing every possible thing that I could about the centre to help propel me on my internship.  Having only just graduated from Bangor University and subsequently volunteered for Pontio numerous times, when I started on my first day three weeks ago I was pretty confident I knew all I needed to know about Pontio – how wrong was I!

It’s been great learning about how it all works, who does what, the projects and performances that have been and are on their way alongside what Pontio’s bigger mission is. I don’t think I’ve done as much reading and swotting up since my A-Levels but learning about what has and could be done in the lines of fundraising has been really interesting, alongside researching into how other organisations go about it.

With Pontio’s building not yet two years old and myself the first person to be working specifically in the fields of fundraising it’s been great playing around with a whole host of fundraising ideas not yet explored by the centre. A particular one is individual giving whilst purchasing a ticket. Here, with the support of my mentors, I’ve started setting up a Health and Wellbeing Fund where all individual donations are put towards great causes within the centre. These include BLAS after-school theatre group or Corneli Cudd (Hidden Corners), a music engagement project between young people and dementia sufferers. So I’m looking forward to the fund going live hopefully in the next few weeks!

It's been a great start to my internship and I just can’t wait now to see what the next stage of my internship will bring! 

Week 4: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Meet the team, explore the college, find my desk, go! It’s been nearly 3 weeks now and it’s been a whirlwind.   As soon as I got to grips with the basics it’s been go, go, go! Initially I did some research on the college before I learned all about our friends scheme Connect.  So far I’ve taken minutes for a meeting, learned about the different levels of membership, renewed all the October memberships (pretty much all of them) both in tessitura (online database) and in spreadsheets.  I’ve then mailed them all a thank you letter, membership card and newsletter.  I’ve also cross checked everyone’s addresses and now feel like I’m becoming a tessitura wiz, especially when I learned how to do program reports and money entry!

I’ve recently been looking up legacy ideas as we’re developing the current legacies system further.  I’ve looked up trusts and foundations that might sponsor our new writing and drama festival, NEW. I’ve even started writing my first funding application!

We held fundraising events around Maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble concert and workshop when they came to the college.  We had a few members of Connect in for the workshop and held a drinks reception around the concert.  This was also a great opportunity to welcome our new Acting Principle.

Lastly, yesterday was the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Charity Lunch held by the Tenovus at The Cornerstone which my business mentor Karen Welch kindly invited me to.  It was fantastic that I got to attend!

Week 3: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

First day nerves are to be expected, it’s very typical to feel anxious. After receiving the guided tour, introductions to staff members and finally sitting down at my new desk, my emotions were not so typical; not what I had expected. I relaxed, as if it was my 3rd or maybe 5th day as the staff talked me through how to set up my own computer log in, email account and chatted enthusiastically about future community projects, productions and The Cherry Orchard, (this needs to be seen!)

Each introduction inspired a wealth of enthusiasm upon explaining what my job role would be as a ‘creative intern fundraising for the arts.’  It was clear that each team member held the fundraising department in high regard. And, as the days unfolded and I became more familiar with the Sherman 5 and community engagement projects, I saw why.

The tremendous work that the Sherman does wouldn’t be possible without the funds to support it. From community projects encouraging disadvantaged and disabled people to engage with workshops, theatre productions and supporting emerging talent with sponsored assistant director positions, funding is crucial. And what better way to learn the trade than to give me full access to the application process and, pardon the cliché, throw me into the deep end. I feel very fortunate to be here, during an exciting time of change as the Sherman looks to explore new contemporary ways of fundraising.

Week 2: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

Being the first new intern to write this is pretty daunting. At the time of doing so, I’ve been working at Hijinx for four days – most of that time being spent trying to absorb as much information as possible about the organisation. What do I say at this point? I’ll start with this: it’s amazing to be working again! Better yet, I’m absolutely thrilled I get to do so with such a dedicated, welcoming team who work towards achieving such an important vision.

That said, I will be jumping straight into the fundraising. In the run up to Christmas, I will be focused on raising money for Hijinx’s community groups – Odyssey and Telemachus – which includes an application to Aviva’s Community Fund due early next week. This will also include a bid to Children in Need, as well as other Trusts and Foundations. Since telling the stories of how a charity can help its beneficiaries is so key to fundraising, I’ve spent a large part of my first week getting to know the actors and participants Hijinx works with, specifically visiting the Odyssey and Telemachus groups. It’s truly been a privilege to meet these people, and I can’t wait to go back again and visit them next week.

Thinking more long term, I’m going to be looking at other Trusts and Foundations to contribute to core costs, as well as setting up a new Friends scheme for the organisation. 

Week 1: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

It feels truly fantastic to be back on the internships programme for another 10 months of fundraising. I’ve had a refreshing break, but am excited now to be welcomed into two new organisations (yes two!) for this Strand 2 internship. I now reside with Sinfonia Cymru for 3 days a week, and BAFTA Cymru the other two, so expect a hefty double blog every 5 weeks from now on!

As with the beginning of my first year internship, which coincided with City of the Unexpected, it’s straight in at the deep end (my favourite way to learn!). I’m looking forward to Sinfonia Cymru’s upcoming Curate #BowDown event at Tramshed Tech on 7th October and the BAFTA Cymru Awards on the 8th. It’s guaranteed to be an intense weekend, but as a fundraiser, no doubt a brilliantly hands-on experience.

I will capitalise on this; making the most of the opportunity to understand these events inside out, scope out fundraising possibilities for future ones, and gain insight into the wider ethos of each organisation put into action. From Strand 1 I’ve learned that a great fundraiser understands well the impact of the work that their organisation does, and I believe I can convey the best understanding in my applications, sponsorship pitches and other funding opportunities through having viewed the impact first-hand, utilising events like these as a chance to go in with fresh eyes and adapt my view to that of a potential funder unfamiliar with the organisation.

With Sinfonia Cymru, my immediate focus over the next month or so is preparing and submitting some key trust applications and assisting the Director in completing others, where I am hoping to prove a valuable addition to the team with my previous experience. But I am also looking forward to exploring new funding avenues over the next few months as well, researching the possibilities of text giving and legacy campaigns, and helping put together some literature for our Friends & Patrons.

With BAFTA Cymru, my starting focus will be assisting on a couple of events this week prior to the awards next weekend, getting a feel for how the smaller BAFTA Cymru events operate – a Career Clever event which I attended on my first day (a scheme which supports those hoping to break into the film and television industry) and the Nominees Party for the upcoming awards tonight. The big challenge ahead of me in the coming months will be encouraging high-level donations, particularly attracting new members of the Academy Circle, as cultivating major donors, as opposed to corporate sponsors with very different motivations for giving, is something I have limited experience of currently, although I have previous experience of stewarding existing relationships whilst at Wales Millennium Centre. I’ll also undertake the challenge of securing trusts and foundations support, when the glam and moneyed appearance of the BAFTA’s can overshadow the charitable work which they do in the eyes of a grant maker.

All in all tons to be getting on with, and best of luck to the Strand 1 starting their internships this week!