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Money Matters - blog from Rachel

Dodging preposterously intense rain showers, I headed up to the reopened City Art Centre for the Arts & Business Development Forum ‘Pass the Baton’. The audience included representatives from Aberdeen to Glasgow, from the Edinburgh Festivals, film, dance, theatre, museums, galleries, storytelling and craft.

Arts & Business work to ‘connect companies & individuals to cultural organisations and provide expertise and insight for them to prosper together’. They aim to improve fundraising skills in arts organisations, matching arts projects and business organisations, and support projects for match funding.

Given the current atmosphere of dread over imminent funding cuts ahead of the CSR later this autumn, there is a palpably renewed interest in issues around philanthropy and sponsorship. Although there was reassurance in the introductory speech from A&B Director Barclay Price that the talk around public funding cuts in Scotland spoke of figures of 10%, rather than the 25 – 30% likely from Westminster, it’s still a grim outlook.

But there is positive news out there. Of particular interest:

  • Arts & Business still have some money left for Arts Sponsorships grants, between £25,000 and £60,000 depending on pending applications. So far compared with last year, there have more grant applications but for smaller amounts, with around 65% of applications for £5,000 or less.
  • Crowdfunding is coming to the fore in certain areas as an innovative and often lively technique for funding. The action centres around a collective effort by a large number of people to pool their money together in small amounts to support creative projects and artists, usually via the Internet. The challenge is in turning it into a co operative exchange, in finding original and meaningful ways to repay the support in kind. See for a brilliant example of the kind from the US.
  • Web based giving opportunity The Big Arts Give will launch in early December, with 7 organisations from Scotland selected to take part: The Byre Theatre, Citizens Theatre, Collective Gallery, Dunedin Consort, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Glasgow Film Theatre and Scottish Ballet. A&B hope to see this scheme raise £3 million for the arts by Christmas.
  • A&B has partnered with the Centre for Charitable Giving & Philanthropy in a research project to be launched in November 2010, looking at the way in which organisations educate and engage potential donors.  It will be the first survey into donor education in Scotland

This time around, the A&B ‘Pass the Baton’ conversation saw Penny Lewis, Director of Fundraising & Sponsorship at Scottish Opera interviewing Sadie McKinlay, Head of Development at Edinburgh International Film Festival. Of particular interest was how she has seen the funding patterns for EIFF cycle over the years, swinging in emphasis from corporate to public funding and now back again. She also emphasised the importance of partnership working between festivals, venues, events, companies particularly in gaining confidence from funders in enduring and sustainable practice.

Weaving down through the lushly renovated City Arts Centre (although a slightly more obvious stairwell would have helped with this, not being a huge fan of lifts, even ones as roomy as this), we stopped off to inspect the Edward Weston exhibition - worth a look for his pictures of peppers (yes, really). Tucked away in a back room, Johanna Billing’s ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’ is a delight.

And finally – a recent rummage through the A&B website brought up details of the recent Crafted debate at the London Design Festival, complete with podcast. Listen on the A&B website.

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