Europe’s critical economic situation has resulted in the United Kingdom government making cuts across the board and once again issuing a plea for “more American-style fundraising in the arts,” or, a more diverse, less government-centered financial base for the arts. The potential of the arts to build true engagement across conventional boundaries of culture, generation, economic status, class and professional expertise has a long and rich history in the UK, as evidenced by the establishment of the BBC and national cultural institutions, but the need for a fresh look at fundraising strategy and philosophy has never been greater.
In October 2011, three senior arts and education practitioners brought together 40 participants from 15 organizations in the UK to address practical and effective ways to strengthen the real value of the arts, thereby sustaining their varied revenue streams. The program, Defining Values, was presented by National Arts Strategies President and CEO Russell Willis Taylor, Anna Ledgard and Julia Rowntree at London’s Somerset House with support from the Fidelity UK Foundation, the Fidelity Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The aim of the program was to help arts organizations discover latent potential in their existing values and activities, thereby enabling them to move from one-off transactions in fundraising to sustainable relationships in fund development. The session offered case studies and group exercises exploring the skills, language, philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings necessary to successful fund development, with special focus on how to create enduring relationships. The following organizations took part in colleague teams of CEO/Artistic Director, Head of Learning and Head of Development: Arcola Theatre, B3 Media, Battersea Arts Center, English National Opera, Iniva, National Portrait, Gallery, The Place Theatre, Project Phakama, Roundhouse, Serious, Somerset House Trust, Sound and Music, South Bank Centre, Tate, Theatre Royal Stratford East.
The program saw many favorable outcomes from participant organizations. In particular, Battersea Arts Centre is taking steps to bring the fundraising process itself into the creative embrace of the organization, recognizing its power to build creativity, neighborly cooperation and citizenship across its various constituencies. BAC recently hosted a lecture by Dr. Franklyn Prochaska on English philanthropic traditions as further inspiration for the social, creative and civic benefits of associational philanthropy.