Blog 2019/20

Week 33: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera

Here it is – the last blog. Sitting on my balcony in Brussels and about to have my virtual graduation ceremony, I am struggling to find the 250 words or so to summarize ten whole months of learning and growing.

It may be my last week as an intern, but not as an arts fundraiser; I have received the fantastic opportunity to stay at WNO for a little while longer as a Development Assistant for Trusts and Corporate. This will allow me to continue the work we have been doing with our corporate partners, and further develop my experience in trusts and foundations. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support from my managers, my arts and business mentors, and everyone at Arts & Business Cymru, all of whom I would like to thank wholeheartedly.

Looking back at these past ten months, I am grateful for both successes and obstacles that couldn’t be overcome; the former filled me with joy and pride while the latter taught me resilience and perseverance. Not all my trust applications will pay off, not every business I approach will agree to partner with an arts organisation, but this makes the victories even greater. For example, I have recently learned that WNO’s partnership with Pendine Park had been shortlisted for the Arts & Business Cymru Awards, demonstrating the growing importance of cooperation and partnership which are now so valued to me.

Ultimately, fundraising is only a word. As an arts fundraiser, you are not just raising funds. You are showing the crucial role arts play in our lives – how arts educate, alleviate pain and loneliness, bring people together, embellish our world, and can sometimes be a vector for change. Tell me, as a job, can it get better than that?

Week 32: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

It’s been a funny few months and I can’t believe this is my final blog post as a Creative Intern! Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been finishing up work on the Student Hardship Fund Appeal and have begun sending out letters to Trust and Foundations – our online appeal is doing really well so far and we’ve been really pleasantly surprised by people’s generosity. It’s definitely been a huge learning curve and one I’m sure will have a big impact on how we fundraise in the future.

I also had the opportunity to attend the Cardiff Life Awards virtually this week as the application I wrote nominating the College for an Education award was shortlisted. Unfortunately, we did not win, but it was a really nice evening celebrating some really great Cardiff businesses – a timely celebration as Cardiff begins to bounce back!

Speaking of celebrations, this week we also celebrated what would have been the Class of 2020’s graduation with a virtual celebration on Zoom. Again, this was a really special event and it was a  proud moment looking back over everything the College and its students have achieved the past year and provided a moment of reflection for me personally to look back on some of the creative projects/events we have fundraised for.

With only three weeks left, I am amazed at how quickly time has gone and how much I have learnt in that period… Despite the end of the internship taking a rather bizarre turn, one that I don’t think any of us could have expected, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the College and am excited to see what’s up next! The support from both the College, Arts & Business, my mentor Paula Morris, and the many training courses and networking events have really boosted my confidence since the beginning of the internship and I have gained skills in fundraising, marketing, events and so much more! I’d highly recommend the internship to anyone leaving university who is interested in the arts, as this programme is an excellent way of building your professional skills and gaining hands-on experience.

A huge thank you to Arts & Business Cymru and The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and a massive Good Luck to all the other Interns for their bright futures ahead!


Week 31: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

Well, I can’t quite believe it – this is my final blog post of the internship! Over the past couple of weeks I’ve completed Rubicon’s new website, and we are just making some final touches before the site goes live, including proof reading and uploading translation. I’m really excited about the prospect the website holds for us as an organisation. The ability to do things like fundraise, purchase classes and share the amazing stories of our participants all in one place, will be great opportunity to amplify Rubicon’s message to a greater number of people.

I also had the chance to attend some more great training throughout the past month. In a Digital Storytelling webinar run by Digital Communities Wales I learnt about using Adobe Spark Video to create a short story using still images, narration and music. The app was easy to use and the result looked very professional and could be used to tell a person’s story; document an event; or create an instruction guide. It is something I would like to use for future fundraising and marketing activities!

This week I was also lucky enough to take part in the Wales Wide Training Programme’s Evaluation Forum, led by Dr Susanne Burns. This was originally meant to take place in March, but it was rearranged to be a virtual event and it was brilliant. Sue gave us a template for evaluating our projects and emphasized the importance of seeing evaluation as a learning experience which can be looked at through different lenses and implemented throughout a project. Filling in the evaluation template before we write a funding application for a project is now something we want to implement as a team, and this was a great take away from the session.

With evaluation in mind... if you had asked me at the start of the internship where I thought I would be now, I never could have imagined the breadth of experience and learning I’ve had. I’ve become a lot more confident as a person and developed skills in fundraising, marketing, events, website building and so much more! I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered an extension to my contact at Rubicon and I’m really excited to see what the next couple of months have in store. The support I have received from the whole team at Rubicon, including Kathryn, Tracey, and my fellow fundraisers Sara and Lauren, has been invaluable to help me grow. I would also like to thank Goody and Lynne Sheehy, my business mentor, for their support throughout the internship - thank you for all your help!

Week 30: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Over the last couple of weeks, the College development team have been preparing for the launch of our Student Hardship Fund appeal, which, for the first time, will be using text donations and social media as a form of fundraising. This is an exciting first for the College and will hopefully have a really positive impact on how we fundraise during future events and engage with supporters using technology. In preparation, I have been researching how other organisations and conservatoires have launched similar appeals, the type of language and imagery used, and how successful this has been – I’m looking forward to seeing the response to the appeal in the next few weeks and gaining more experience in individual giving through this scheme.

The current Covid-19 situation has definitely highlighted how important technology is, and will be increasingly, for how we move forward as an organisation and as a result, the College has developed a new digital strategy. Again, a lot of this is looking at new ways we can engage current and new supporters, friends overseas, and student/fundraising prospects – I have been researching Trust and Foundation prospects for this, looking at ways other institutions and conservatoires have/are using technology, and have also been involved in some interesting discussions about our plans to approach various Trusts and donors… it’s been interesting to see this different side to ‘making the ask’ as these asks will be a lot more personal due to the way the Trusts operate and our relationship with them - similar to individual giving in a way --- an important insight for me to understand how different funding relationships work!

In other news, here’s a screenshot of our recent team meeting – bad hair day themed!

Week 29: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera

Although it may seem like the world stays still, WNO continues to bring music and opera to people’s homes. A lot of digital content is being created, as well as family activities, and if you’re feeling up for it, you can even try #WNOChallenge on Instagram and release your creativity!

Some of our projects are still being delivered digitally as well. I had the opportunity to attend a Zoom session of our project called Cradle Choir, a choir that engages with people suffering from dementia and their friends/family. Through a screen, I could see that singing along to Mary Poppins’s songs brought smiles to people’s faces and a much-needed break from the routine.

Naturally, my everyday tasks have changed too. My role was mostly focussed on corporates and it is difficult at the moment to work on existing partnerships or develop new ones. I have been working on nominations to the Arts & Business Cymru Awards for two of our corporate partners, and I have also been busy collating partnership reports. On the Trusts side, I have been prospecting for WNO’s 2021 programme, which gave me something to look forward to once we can perform again.

I leave you with a photo of my feathery friend who has chosen my roof to build its nest. Observing the birds and listening to their songs has been the silver lining of this lockdown and their visits to the garden a reunion to look forward to every morning.

Week 28: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Like Millie, I am surprised at how quickly this month has gone – it feels like April has just vanished! Working from home is beginning to feel more ‘normal’, although the last couple of weeks have definitely felt like a struggle after the Easter break!

The College community continues to inspire creativity and this weekend, students will be broadcasting our 2020 Atmospheres Festival of new music. The Development team have also been continuing to stay in touch via Zoom and since the last post, our meetings have included sock-puppets, birthday celebrations for Louisa and Marie and dressing up to celebrate Tim Rhys-Evans’ official ‘first-day’ as the College’s Head of Music!

Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty, it is becoming more apparent that now, more than ever, Trusts and Foundations will become a main source for securing support – this has meant that I now have a lot more on my to-do list and I am currently working on two nominations for the Arts & Business Cymru Awards, an application in support of our Welsh music programme, the School’s Opera case for support, a corporate report, as well as various research and admin tasks! The tools we learnt in the most recent Arts & Business Cymru training (Business Planning for Success with Ian Mitchell) have definitely come in handy to help me stay on top of everything and prioritise my tasks!

I’ve noticed a few of the interns say this in their posts, and I completely agree, that this time is a great opportunity to reflect on all we have learnt so far and how we can make improvements moving forward. During mentoring with my arts mentor yesterday, we discussed areas where there are gaps in my experience, and I felt that this was a great way to visually see and set goals for the coming months!

Week 27: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

Looking back on my previous blog post, it seems crazy to me that I was only just beginning to work from home due to COVID19. As the days have come and gone, a month has suddenly whizzed by and I am quite surprised with how quickly working from home has come to feel normal. Keeping in contact with the rest of the team over Teams and Zoom now seems like second nature, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t still challenging at times to be away from everyone. Staying connected with Kathryn, Lauren, Sara and Tracey in our weekly meetings has been especially helpful though... and at least I have my plants!

If anything, a positive I can take out of this is that I’ve had the opportunity to have a really unrestricted focus on completing Rubicon’s new website. Things are starting to take shape a bit more now and I can see the finish line in sight. I am tackling the fundraising section at the moment; trying to ensure everything is really clear and it looks as good and professional as possible. It is very important to me that I present a unified and compelling message for Rubicon whilst I finish this project, so I am eager to ensure everything is completed to the best of my ability.

I have also been working on a small emergency COVID19 grant application which we can hopefully use to purchase some new laptops for Rubicon staff. Having these will mean we can continue to provide dance for everyone who comes to Rubicon classes, and this is especially important for our older participants who may not have any close relatives.

Working from home has also given me opportunities to work on certain skills like managing work-life balance and remaining motivated, which I have no doubt will help me in the future.

I think it’s really easy at the moment to forget that things will return to some sort of normality soon, so I’d like to finish this blog post by saying “it will!” and stay positive!

Week 26: Izzy Boulton, Wales Millennium Centre

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 last month, the decision was made to close Wales Millennium Centre until further notice in order to put the safety of our staff, artists, volunteers and audiences first, while we plan for the future.

There’s been a lot of adapting taking place over the last month. From a personal perspective, I’m getting used to working from home every day, living under the same roof as my parents again and missing loved ones in Cardiff. From a business perspective, I’m getting used to video calls, changes in my daily routines and role, and learning how we will approach this truly unique situation – especially when 85% of our revenues come from our ticket sales and when we closed this stopped - overnight. I believe everyone is learning something new at the moment, and although closure of the Centre may seem like a set-back, I think it is a great opportunity for us all to develop.

Since working from home, I have participated in a number of webinars which provide an insight into other organisations at this time. It’s been wonderful to see charities and businesses coming together to support each other. I’ve also been regularly benchmarking other Arts Organisations, as well as keeping an eye on our Corporate partners to learn more about how they have been affected, their approach going forward and how we can work together. I’ve heard many people say it’s a great time to pause and evaluate – I definitely agree. I have learnt so much during the past 6 months of my internship and it’s been great to reflect on this and also recognise how this training and experience is now helping me adapt and play an active role in preparing how we make sure the show can go on!

Week 25: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera

Strange times! … Six months ago, I was a freshly graduated student starting her first full-time job in an office; learning how to find the balance between work, learning and leisure, getting lost in the hallways of the Wales Millennium Centre, having the opportunity to attend rehearsals and working alongside creative and talented people.

These are the things I keep in mind now that I find myself sitting at what used to be my dinner table, working from home. This transition isn’t easy. It takes self-discipline, adaptability, resourcefulness and creativity. It looks lonely, but it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be – now more than ever is the time to reach out, to ask questions, to learn from the experience of others.

In addition to my normal weekly tasks – submitting trust applications, researching businesses, compiling partnership reports – I am also using this time to reflect on what I’ve done so far, on what worked and what didn’t and why. This will allow me to identify opportunities for improvement in the future to create, for example, better corporate partnership agreements.

Before all this, I had been invited by Cardiff University to talk about the internship programme and my experience at Welsh National Opera. It was lovely to meet the students who are now completing the same course I had studied last year and I hope I could inspire some of them to consider a career in the arts and maybe to apply to the Creative Internships programme!

Week 24: Owen Jones, Literature Wales 

This will have to be a quick update, as with all the crazy-ness I completely forgot to write the blog last week!

As you can imagine, it’s been an unusual time, but I’ve been getting on as best as I can from home. A lot of the corporate fundraising projects have had to take a back seat for the time being, due to the uncertainty of current circumstances. A lot of Trusts & Foundations have been in contact to say that they’re postponing their decision making until things return to some kind of normality. Finally, the Literature Wales store has had to pause sales for almost all our merchandise (although the framed Water Tower prints are still going strong!), as no one will be in the office to process and ship the orders.

All in all, it’s not the best time to be a fundraiser.

But all is not lost! As an organisation we’ve managed to adapt to working remotely, and are able keep in contact through email, phone, Microsoft Teams, and all the many video conferencing tools that are out there. Some trust & foundations applications are going ahead, especially for the Tŷ Newydd conservation project. Literature Wales has found ways of continuing to work and support freelance writers through online activity, and I’ve been exploring some potential avenues of funding for that. Finally, I’ve had an opportunity to try my hand at some projects outside of Fundraising, for example I’ve been helping with Wales Book of the Year.

So, despite everything I’ve decided to stay positive. And as for the next few months, we’ll just have to wait and see…

Week 23: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to write for this blog as I definitely did not anticipate starting the second half of the internship in lockdown! The current situation with COVID-19 has escalated since Millie’s post; the College has closed its doors, and like the majority of the UK, our development team are now working from home.

With the current situation, it is uncertain how the economy will be affected and what consequence this will have on Trusts and fundraising in general. At the moment, it’s business as usual and I am therefore continuing to write applications, although I am anticipating that Trusts may receive an abundance now that everyone has time to write applications!

Before all the craziness began, I made an application nominating the College’s New York Fundraising Gala for the Institute of Fundraising’s ‘Fundraising Event of the Year’ award, and, whilst I found this application quite challenging due to the quick turn-around, it was a really good opportunity for me to experience writing for a different audience (fundraisers rather than trustees). I am currently working on a case for support for Schools Opera 2021, a project I feel I have a good understanding of having written a proposal, blog post and tweets for this year’s, which unfortunately had to be cancelled. The College was also approached by a Trust inviting us to apply to them for a Bursary and I have been adding Trusts and Foundations to our online database – so that has also been keeping me busy whilst I work from home!

Despite all the uncertainty, I wanted this post to highlight some of the positivity that has grown out of this strange time:

-          The extra time we all now have has been a great opportunity to engage and communicate with our supporters and to update them on recent College activity.

-          The College community have been coming up with solutions and creative ideas to bring people together by sharing artistic responses, online workshops and performances digitally through the Principal’s challenge: #KeepCreative and #RWCMDCreative

-          The development team have been using our catch-ups to respond to this challenge, and so far have been ‘maintaining standards’ by wearing hats and moustaches to meetings.

-          It is clearly a worrying time for everyone, and it is important that we keep supporting and watching out for each other – myself and the other interns have arranged a video-chat, so I am sure you’ll be seeing a picture of that in the next blogpost!

Let’s approach the next couple of weeks positively and continue to support each other in these trying times!

Week 22: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

We have hit the halfway mark of the internship and I can’t quite believe it! The time has whizzed by, but I am extremely proud of everything I have achieved and how much my confidence has grown.

My funding application for Roath Library has been put on hold for now until we have reached the next stage of building, but I am pleased with what I have written and will keep it safe in my OneDrive until the appropriate time to revisit!

In the meantime, I have started an application to continue service provision for our over 50’s sessions in Adamsdown and Stow Hill. I sat down with Sam, who coordinates the development programme, and we worked through the costings for these sessions and how the money would be split across the years. I’m excited to be working on this application because I have a good understanding of our ethos behind these sessions. I have seen some of these sessions in person and doing so has shown the extent of the positive benefits.

Developing Rubicon’s website has taken up the other main chunk of my time. Taking on the project manager role for this task is something I’ve really been enjoying; it is brilliant to see everything come together after compiling the information from the team, designing visuals, and writing content. I have already completed some of the key pages about our GCSE and BTEC courses, as well as the Wales Wide Training and apprenticeship programmes.

Over the last two weeks I attended two A&B courses: Effective Change Management and Business Planning for Success. These courses gave some great tips that can be applied to both work life and home life, and it was interesting to hear the opinions and perspectives of people further along their career paths. A&B Cymru also held another Art @ the Senedd last week. Kitsch n’ Sync Collective performed and it was a really fun evening!

This week, however, is quite a different story. With the growing COVID-19 concerns Rubicon has followed government guidance and we are now working from home. It all feels a bit surreal, but we have some great plans to keep people involved and I’m sure we will come out the other side as an even stronger community!

Week 21: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera

We’re already halfway through the internship! The past 5 months have flown by, and I intend to make the most of my time left to try new things and build on the skills I’ve acquired so far.

March is a busy month for us interns in terms of training: last week we had a very insightful course on change management, and in the next few weeks we’ll learn more about business planning, communications planning, and fundraising in general.

Speaking of trying new things, last month I had the opportunity to watch a dress rehearsal of from the surtitling box with Elin, our dramaturg. I had first observed the work needed to translate Les vêpres siciliennes from French to English and Welsh and how to synchronise these translations with the musical score. This experience allowed me to gain a better understanding of yet another part of Welsh National Opera, and I even got to help by using my knowledge of French!

Audio description, on the other hand, helps people with visual impairment to access opera. Delivered live and simultaneously with the performance, the audio describer provides a visual description of the action and body language. They guide the listener through new scenes, costumes and the relationship of the characters. It is another facet of WNO performances that I’ve learned about through writing a trust application to fund this programme, that is crucial to make opera accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

Week 20: Owen Jones, Literature Wales 

At the start of the month I travelled up to Llanystumdwy to visit Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, Literature Wales’ writing centre in North Wales. It was great to see another aspect of Literature Wales’ work, as the Tŷ Newydd courses and workshops are a crucial part of the organisation. It was also useful for my work, as over the coming months I’ll be working on finding conservation and capital grants for the building, as well as helping to develop the Tŷ Newydd merchandise. The centre also provided a beautiful backdrop to work from for a couple of days – the Grade II listed property and gardens were re-designed by architect Clough Williams Ellis for David Lloyd George PM, who lived there towards the end of his life.

Back in the office I’ve continued to apply for grants for our Children’s Laureate Wales and Platforming Under-represented Writers projects – four more since the last post! I’ve also written a short pitch for securing a sponsor for Wales Book of the Year and, through Arts & Business, submitted a proposal for sponsorship of Children’s Laureate Wales for Wales & West Utilities.

In other news, I’ve written an action plan for developing our merchandise and started to implement some of the first steps. For example, I recently created a Literature Wales eBay profile to reach new customers and have put some of our old prints up for auction. Fingers crossed we’ll get a lot of sales!

Image of Tŷ Newydd, copyright Kristina Banholzer

Week 19: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

This month has been another busy month at the College and I have several exciting pieces of news!

Firstly, I have made the commitment and given in to peer pressure as the team now all have matching ‘Development Bob’ haircuts… even Andy!


On a more serious note, at the end of last month, I had the news that, with the help of my Line Manager, our application for Cardiff Life Awards on behalf of the College has been successful and we have been nominated for an Education award. I am delighted that the College’s work is being recognised in this way, especially as I have seen so many examples of the opportunities our students can access and the high level of excellence they achieve. In the last few weeks alone, I have attended our Symphony Orchestra’s Orchestradventure! performance to over 1200 schoolchildren at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, viewed the behind the scenes work of our Design for Performance students in their Gridding Up Exhibition, AND seen two amazing plays produced by the College’s own Richard Burton Theatre Company.

I have also put recent Social Media training with Spindogs into practice, drafting a press release and cheese-pun tweets in relation to Western Power Distribution’s support of our Schools Opera Performance of ‘The Old Man Who Loved Cheese’. This week, I also had the opportunity to apply our recent Individual Giving training with Arts & Business as I stewarded members during our Connect concert, Music for Stage and Screen.

In other good news, I recently found out that my Arts & Business Cymru Culturestep application for additional funding for the College’s puppetry outreach project has been successful. Not only will this investment support an exciting, new puppetry tour of schools across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, but it will also help the College develop our relationship with our corporate sponsor, Liberty Living. As I have mainly been working with Trust and Foundations, this process has enabled me to put into practice what I have learnt so far about corporate sponsorship and I am looking forward to watching the project develop and managing this partnership.

Week 18: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

Since I last wrote we’ve had a very busy time at Rubicon.

The foreign coins collected from the forgotten coin fundraiser have been converted, taking our grand total up to £453.90. I was really pleased with this result and it has been great to see how a simple idea can capture the interest of lots of people.

My main focus since Christmas has been our annual Schools’ Dance Festival which was held over the last two weeks in St David’s Hall. There has been a lot of work to do prior to the festival, including creating a programme for the event, sending invites to head teachers as well as making new visual timetables of our centre & development sessions and new friends scheme leaflets. Designing these materials and making sure their content was clear as well as visually engaging was a bit of a challenge but I really enjoyed being able to craft everything myself from start to finish.

The programmes were then sold during the Schools’ Festival and the timetables along with the other leaflets were displayed on friend’s corner, which Sara and I manned before and after the performance, talking to the audience about Rubicon’s work. During the day I helped to move schools to and from the auditorium. It was brilliant to see their excitement and enthusiasm after their tech runs and then seeing them perform again to a massive audience in the evening.

In the next month I will be working on uploading information to our new website, finalising my first foundation application and getting more community fundraising underway.

Week 17: Izzy Boulton, Wales Millennium Centre

It has been a busy start to the year here at the Centre! In January alone we saw the end of our ‘Les Misérables’ run, as well as, ‘Six the Musical’ and ‘The King & I’ take to the stage in our Donald Gordon Theatre. I had the opportunity to greet one of our partners during their ‘Six the Musical’ hospitality evening, while also stewarding members in our Taittinger Lounge. I really enjoy chatting to our supporters and ensuring that they feel appreciated. This highlighted the importance of building rapport through face-to-face interactions to help Individual Giving relationships grow.

This month I have attended various Arts & Business training sessions – ‘Implementing and Managing Friends Schemes’, ‘Introduction to Individual Giving’ and the ‘Fundraising Symposium’. The discussion around Individual Giving and Friends Schemes was beneficial as viewing this method of fundraising from a strategic viewpoint helped me understand how my daily tasks influence the big picture. The Fundraising Symposium was particularly valuable to me as Trusts & Foundations is an area of fundraising that I would like to focus a little more on, hearing about other charities’ projects and the challenges they face was very useful.

I was also fortunate to have a first-look at the set design for our production ‘The Beauty Parade’, which I am really excited to see in March, as it is pushing boundaries both in its creation and performance with accessibility at its very core.

Week 16: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera 

Since starting this internship I have mostly worked on corporate partnerships – staying informed on what is going on in Wales’ corporate world, keeping our corporate partners actively involved with WNO, etc. However, I’ve also recently started working with Trusts and Foundations. This work allows me to compare these two fundraising strands and appreciate the differences in the language used. I’ve completed the first stage of an application for our hospital programme in Neath Port Talbot, which enables elderly patients to engage with weekly musical sessions to improve their wellbeing and reduce isolation. Through the writing of this application, I’ve learnt a lot more about the work WNO does alongside its mainstage productions and how they both complement each other to make opera accessible to everyone.

January also provided an opportunity for me to learn about individual giving through Arts & Business training courses. Though I may not need the learning now, as I am mostly focusing on corporate partnerships, the tools and tips provided in these courses have showed me how an organisation works with individual donors. It will definitely be a precious help in the future when I have to manage a Friends scheme or major gifts, for example.

In other news, WNO’s Spring Season opens next week with “Les Vêpres Siciliennes” and February will be a good opportunity for me to meet our generous supporters who will see the productions before anyone else by attending the dress rehearsals.

Week 15: Owen Jones, Literature Wales 

Like Greta, I started the year with the news that my first grant application for our Platforming Under-represented Writers project was unsuccessful. While I’m disappointed by this, I’m told that fundraising involves a lot of unsuccessful applications so I’m not too disheartened moving forwards. And, since my last blog post, I’ve sent two more applications to Trust and Foundations, a total of eight sponsorship pitches and three Corporate Social Responsibility proposals – so I’m remaining optimistic.

I’ve also started working on some new, exciting projects. One of these is proactively looking for poetry commissions, so I’ve started researching into companies that are celebrating anniversaries, opening new buildings, or launching new products. I’ve also started looking at developing a volunteer base and developing corporate training packages, so over the coming months I’ll be researching into how these might work for Literature Wales, and what steps we would take to implement them.

Coming up I have a whole load of Arts & Business courses, including courses on individual giving, friend schemes, and a fundraising symposium. Next week I’ll be visiting Tŷ Newydd, Literature Wales’ writing centre in North Wales (originally I was supposed to go in December, but the trip had to be rescheduled). It will be great to see the centre in operation, and this should be really useful for when I’m applying for conservation grants towards the grade II listed building.

All in all, I’m looking forward to the next 6 months of the internship!

Week 14: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

It was a sad start to the year with the news that my application to Community Foundation Wales for the Tampon Tax fund was unsuccessful… However, on a lighter note, the report I wrote for the College’s partnership with John Lewis has led to them renewing their sponsorship – so, onwards and upwards!

Christmas at the College was a really exciting time, albeit very busy! I attended the College’s annual Christmas on Broadway and learnt a bit of Welsh when we recorded a video wishing our Chairman Laureate, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, a Happy Birthday!

My Line Manager and I have used our team strategic meetings and research I have done so far to match projects with Trusts and create a shortlist for me to start work on. Meetings with my Business Mentor, Paula Morris, have been equally beneficial and she invited me to attend Jonathan Lewis’ talk on his transformation of Capita at Cardiff Business Club which was a really valuable experience and hugely beneficial in developing my understanding of corporates and Cardiff based businesses. Writing the College’s Cardiff Life Awards Application has helped this knowledge sink in as well as providing me with more knowledge such as the environmental work the College does and the impact of our school’s outreach projects.

I also had the opportunity to see a number of the College’s alumni in action when I visited London to watch Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, a play based on a book my Dad illustrated. It just so happens that the creator of the puppets, Max Humphries, is a graduate of the College who I’d written about in a Trust application! This, along with watching Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon talk about their education and success at the Bafta Cymru BBC Writer’s Room event, was really inspiring as a reminder of the kind of work our fundraising supports and how these experiences impact student’s success.

Week 13: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

Happy New Year! Here’s a look back on what I got up to during December:

At the start of the month I visited a care home where we provide a weekly dance session for residents. I was lucky to see a session where we were accompanied by the Keith Little Ensemble, a group who we started working with through our partnership with Music in Hospitals and Care. The live music they provided was so uplifting and it was great to see each person so engaged, no matter what their ability was.

The Forgotten Coin Fundraiser also came to an end in December, and at its close we had filled two collection boxes and an extra tub! Two of our participants, Jillda and Val, kindly volunteered to help us sort the coins.

We raised an amazing £110.80 in British coins alone, and the remaining foreign coins are now ready to be converted. I was blown away with the community support during the campaign and it has been so encouraging to see its success.

For the last part of the month I created social media content to highlight the great work Rubicon had done throughout the year. These posts ran for 12 days, encouraging people to give to our Aviva Crowdfund under the title of #12daysofgiving. As well as raising awareness, creating the posts also helped me to understand the work of Rubicon more fully.

As 2020 starts I look forward to creating content for our upcoming School’s Festival, continuing to develop our website, and thinking up some new fundraising ideas.

Week 12: Izzy Boulton, Wales Millennium Centre

The last few weeks at the Centre have been jam-packed with Celebrations! We have lots going on here over Christmas so I’ve been getting super-involved across the organisation.

We held a Community Lantern Parade a few weeks ago where community groups we work from across South Wales conducted paper lantern workshops and brought them to the Centre for an incredibly vibrant parade, which was led by samba group Barracwda. As part of the event we also had performances by our choir, Sing Proud Cymru, who work with people with care experience, from young people to foster carers. It was lovely to see where the money we raise goes and I love welcoming people from the Communities we support into the Centre for food and entertainment at Christmas.

I also helped facilitate a Supporters Event where our members experienced a private tour of Carl Chapple’s exhibition ‘Painting Dance’ and were welcomed to take part in a drawing workshop with live ballet dancers, before seeing Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Misérables. After the show we celebrated the 15th Birthday of Wales Millennium Centre under ‘The Museum of the Moon’ installation by Luke Jarrod. I have also stewarded a number of Corporate hospitality events, as part of our partnerships with businesses who help to support the Centre.

An extra bonus this week was that I got to have a backstage technical tour of the Centre during Les Misérables rehearsals and walked right to the top of the Centre, to the fly floor which was such a treat!

Week 11: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera 

Warning: this blog is very Christmassy.

Woolly jumpers, mince pies and tinsel: Christmas has officially arrived in WNO. Earlier this month, we held our annual Christmas Concert Celebration, bringing together our Community Chorus and Youth Opera, to perform a selection of festive pieces alongside congregational carols. It was a lovely opportunity for the invited businesses to discover another side of WNO and to have a better understanding of the breadth of our work.

As the New Year approaches, we are already looking at our Spring season, and the special Opening Night organised around the production of Les vêpres siciliennes. This event will allow our supporters and guests to mingle and chat with WNO staff and to appreciate the high quality of WNO’s mainstage productions.

I’m also looking at the preparation of a Spring corporate event in North Wales, to introduce businesses to our far-reaching Youth and Community work in the region. Thanks to my business mentor and colleagues, I understand better how to present this event as something meaningful and beneficial for businesses, and it helped me start thinking about its structure and our objectives.  

As it is my last blog of the year, I also wanted to share with you what these past two months had already taught me on fundraising. But ultimately it all comes back to this: be kind, listen to people’s passions and goals, keep your mind open for any opportunity to help. It sounds so simple, and yet this is something I’m learning every day.

Week 10: Owen Jones, Literature Wales 

It’s been another month and I feel like I’ve really settled in to Literature Wales and my work as a fundraiser.

Over these two months I’ve really gotten to know the organisation and the people. My work has had me working with a range of different departments and on a variety of projects. I’ve gotten to know the people from working with them day-to-day and from social events outside the office, for instance this week a few of us went for drinks at the Christmas market. Over the next month this will continue, especially in the next week when I’ll be visiting Tŷ Newydd (our writing centre in North Wales) and continuing to socialise with my colleagues at our Christmas party.

I’ve also been settling in to my work as a fundraiser. Following up from the last blog post, I’ve now written a couple of specific sponsorship pitches for Children’s Laureate Wales and drafted an application to a foundation for funding towards Platforming Under-represented writers. Another big project is a proposal for Corporate Social Responsibility sponsorship, which I’ll be editing over the next few weeks before sending off in January. I’ve also been preparing work on fundraising from closed-door trusts and High-Net-Worth-Individuals, researching potential donors and drafting letters asking for support.

It’s appropriate that this week has marked the end of my probation period, as I feel like I’m now part of the Literature Wales team and I’m more confident in my work. Bring on the next eight months!

Week 9: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

It’s my Birthday and today we celebrated with cake in the office!

We’ve been working hard too, promise! I am trying not to count down the days until I hear back from my first funding application and am keeping myself busy with various other applications and more research. This month I have written applications and letters to five Trusts in support of NEW: (RWCMD’s new writing season), scholarships and an outreach puppetry performance - these are all new Trusts that I have found using the FundsOnline and Charity Commission websites.

I have also been continuing research into support for our North Wales Young Actors Studio, REPco (RWCMD student enterprise company), and potential American prospects. There may be thousands of Trusts and Foundations out there but finding those that have the capacity as well as the propensity to fund projects such as these can become quite a lengthy process and whilst I have found some really exciting prospects I have also been saving some for upcoming projects that may be a better fit. My meetings with my Line Manager and Arts Mentor have been really beneficial in that aspect and as I am starting to learn more about the College, partnering Trusts with projects is becoming much easier.

Aside from Trusts, I have also been developing my knowledge of Corporate Sponsors through my mentoring sessions and am currently writing a report on the College’s Orchestras for our John Lewis Partnership. I am looking forward to the first meeting with my Business Mentor next week and everything that’s to come in the New Year!

Week 8: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

Another five weeks of my time here at Rubicon has whizzed by! The support I have had from the whole team has been brilliant and my meetings with my arts mentor, Tracey, give me the time to appreciate everything that I have done each week.

At the end of October I attended Art @ the Senedd with my fellow interns. Some of Rubicon’s students performed alongside Only Boys Aloud, and it was a real wow moment to see their piece in such an amazing building. I also had the opportunity to mingle with people from the arts and business worlds.

This week I went along to the Careers Wales Creative Pathways event in RWCMD with the Rubicon team. We spoke to lots of students about our GCSE and Full Time Courses and gave out a lot of sweets!

This month I was also really excited to plan, launch, and promote our November community fundraising campaign – the Forgotten Coin Fundraiser. The idea is that people can donate old British pounds and pennies, or any kind of foreign currency. I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t collect anything, but we have already exceeded our goal to collect 5kgs of coins because of the community’s brilliant support. With two weeks left we have already collected 13kgs!

As this month draws to a close I am starting work on my first big application to a trust. I am excited to see how this goes, and hopefully raise some more money to renovate our amazing new centre.

Week 7: Izzy Boulton, Wales Millennium Centre

Since I wrote my last blog post I have learned so much - and I’m not even two months into the internship yet! I’ve spent the last few weeks learning a variety of new skills and processes. I’ve gained a greater understanding of the structure of fundraising and the different channels Corporate Fundraising, Individual Giving and Trusts & Foundations use to engage people and encourage them to support.

I previously mentioned that I had a Corporate Cultivation event coming up, and that was a really great experience to be a part of. We welcomed 20 guests to the Centre to see the Eddie Izzard Wunderbar show. Some of these guests were existing corporate supporters, and some were prospective corporate supporters. It was great to meet them in person and hear about their experience of membership at Wales Millennium Centre, and it was really special to hear existing members championing membership, helping to inspire the prospective supporters. It was a great learning opportunity to be a part of the planning right through to the production, and the evaluation of our event highlighted things that went well and things to be improved that we can use for future events.

This week, I also met my Business Mentor for the first time - Hayley Hughes, director of Celtic HR – which was great. I’m really looking forward to learning more about business practice, and meeting with her again later this month – the Welsh dragon cappuccino we had in the Senedd was a bonus!


Week 6: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera 

Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s already been one month since I embarked on this internship. I am currently working on my very first proposal, and I have received an incredible amount of support from Arts & Business Cymru and my arts and business mentors, in addition to my co-workers and my line manager at WNO; not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. To top it off, I have just started Welsh evening classes, and I could not be more excited! Learning a language is like opening a door to a hundred new friends and thousand new stories; learning English has led me here, and I cannot wait to see where Welsh will take me.

It would be wrong to assume that my role only requires me to sit in an office. Last Tuesday, for example, I had the chance to catch up with my fellow interns at the Cardiff Development Forum, which took place in St Fagans. It was a great opportunity to exchange experiences and learn about the challenges faced by arts fundraisers in Wales, and how to overcome them.

 I was also happy to chat with Cardiff University staff last week during the filming of a video testimonial for my course – MA in Global Cultures. This allowed me to reflect on what passions, ignited by this course, encouraged me to pursue this internship in the first place and what my hopes are for the future.

Week 5: Owen Jones, Literature Wales 

One of the great things about fundraising is the variety of projects you get to be involved with. I’ve been working at Literature Wales for over a month now, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to involve myself in so many different projects while trying out a variety of fundraising approaches.

Recently, I’ve been trying to increase the merchandise sales from the Literature Wales online store. These sales are great, because it provides unrestricted income for the organisation. Over the past month I’ve updated the website and promoted an early Christmas sale through a series of Facebook adverts targeted at specific demographics.

I’ve also been thinking about corporate sponsorship, specifically for the Children’s Laureate Wales post. Working with the project lead, I’ve written a short pitch to send out through the Arts & Business Cymru bulletin, and over the coming month I’m hoping to develop a more detailed pitch to target specific companies. I’ve also been working on applying to trusts and foundations for our Platforming Under-represented Writers project, researching companies and writing a shortlist of potential funders.

Outside of the office, me and some of the other interns helped out with the Arts & Business event Art @ The Senedd, which was a fantastic experience! The event was a huge success, and getting to see the performances was really inspiring as a reminder of the kind of work our fundraising supports.

Week 4: Greta Bettinson, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Having recently celebrated its 70th birthday, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama currently has an exhibition on display celebrating student and alumni memories. Viewing the exhibition in my first week allowed me to visually walk through the College’s history and gain a deeper understanding of what the College means to its students and the wider community. I am also making the most of seeing as many performances and exhibitions as I can and am beginning to fill up my diary!

RWCMD 70th Anniversary

Back in the office I’ve been putting what I’ve learnt from the A&B Cymru training and MA Arts Management lecture to the test, researching various Trust and Foundations for funding for several ongoing and upcoming projects. On World Mental Health Day (fittingly!), I submitted my first application for the ‘Community Foundation Wales Tampon Tax Fund’, a grant that generates funds from the VAT on sanitary products to improve the lives of disadvantaged girls and women. My application specifically targeted mental health and wellbeing, self-esteem and supporting female students facing hardship. Whilst it’s now a waiting game, it was a great first task to sink my teeth into and I feel like my role is making a change for the good – I am currently working to find other potential support for student’s mental health, whilst researching funders for our Junior College and the College’s acting and writing festival, NEW: 2020.

Linburn Gallery

I have learnt a lot in such a short space of time and am looking forward to the lead up to Christmas!

London Wall Production

Week 3: Millie Bethel, Rubicon Dance 

I can’t believe the third week of the internship is nearly over! The time has flown by and I’m already starting to feel at home here at Rubicon.

I have joined the team at a really exciting time where we are fundraising for our new centre in the old Roath Library. The closeness of the library to our current home in Nora Street means that we can stay close to our community – one of our most important values.

To see this in action I visited several dance sessions last week. These included sessions with primary schools, the elderly, and Rubicon’s Open Contemporary and Street classes. Seeing these sessions helped me to understand the breadth and importance of our work, and has really inspired me as a fundraiser.

Alongside these visits I started to develop our new website, which is hopefully going to increase our digital fundraising capacity. Although I found this a bit tricky to begin with, I now feel like progress is being made and I’m getting to grips with managing the site – which is a lovely feeling!

I have started to develop some community fundraising projects for the lead up to Christmas, sat in on meetings with funders, and attended two training courses about fundraising. My favourite part of these three weeks has been raising my first bit of money for Rubicon during our bag packing event where we raised over £600.

I’m excited to see what the next few weeks hold and to continue learning here at Rubicon!

Week 2: Izzy Boulton, Wales Millennium Centre

With the first full week of my internship coming to a close, I have lots of new information to process! My week has consisted of a tour of the Centre, sitting in on meetings, learning how to use our database, shadowing our ticket lines in the Contact Centre, phoning corporate partners and designing media for our newsletters.

From sitting in on meetings I am starting to better understand the structure of the Development team and the roles that everyone plays. I also feel more confident with how the three strands of fundraising are both similar and different. It’s been great to learn how the Contact Centre works by actually listening in to the calls and learning from real-life situations.

One success of the week was that I was surprised at how quickly I became familiar and confident with the database. I’m not a very ‘techy’ person so it feels like an achievement to already know how to use it; I even booked tickets for a corporate partner over the phone and solved a ticketing issue for a member.

One of the challenges of this week was being given a lot information in a short space of time. I had to ensure I remained attentive as all of the information was important.

In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to attending my first members’ event at the Wales Millennium Centre and meeting some of our corporate partners and members in person.

Week 1: Florence Gygax, Welsh National Opera 

This is it! I have officially started my internship at Welsh National Opera. Between the papers to sign and the pictures to be taken, I hadn’t had the time to fully realise what a complex but meaningful role I will be undertaking in the next ten months. My first day in the office was very enjoyable, especially since I’ve had the chance to see The Cunning Little Vixen dress rehearsal. Getting to witness WNO’s work first-hand was an opportunity for me to understand why fundraising matters and how crucial the donors’ and sponsors’ support is to keep producing projects that engage with young children, elderly, refugees, etc.

I was very pleased to be able to attend two training courses delivered by A&B Cymru before even starting my internship – Planning a Fundraising Strategy, and A 5-Step Guide to Sponsorship Success –  as it gave me an understanding of the role of a fundraiser within an organisation and the different kinds of fundraising that exist. I was also asked to think about the objectives I wanted to achieve during this internship. It will be interesting to compare my expectations to what I will have accomplished, and this will be a useful tool to assess my work.

I cannot wait to discover what these next ten months have in store for me, and I am very excited to learn about my fellow interns’ experience in their own host organisations.