Blog 2017/18

Blog 2017/18

Week 36: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

My final blog!  It’s been a blast!  Hijinx has been a wonderful company to work for, by far the best working environment I’ve ever had.  I have achieved some amazing things, and I’m proud of my time here.  I could continue to gush, but rather than fill this with mournful platitudes, I’ll look to the future and the things I’ve learnt.  Final fundraising tips according to Johnny Dawson:

Fundraising is all about the conversation.  Initiate it and keep it going.

The devil is in the detail.  Be specific, know what you’re asking for.  Nobody wants to invest in a vague idea.

Know your charity!  You can’t pitch to funders if you don’t know who you are.  

As for the future, I’ve grown to really enjoy fundraising.  I hope to continue to hone the skills I’ve built and there are a few jobs out there that have caught my interest.  But whether I end up in full time fundraising or not, I’ve got the skills and can carry them forward into the next thing that I do.

I want to close by saying a huge THANK YOU to A&B Cymru for this awesome opportunity. In particular to Becca Lloyd for helping me to navigate it!  Thanks to Lynne Sheehy and Rich Tynen for their unwavering support and incredible advice!  Thanks to Clare Williams for being an amazing boss and teacher!  And thanks to Hijinx for being Hijinx.  I can think of nowhere else I would have wanted to spend the last 10 months.

Over and Out

Week 35: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Coming to the end of the internship, I’ve been handing over my research and squeezing in some final opportunities to gain fundraising experience. As this is my last blog before I complete my placement, I would like to express my many thanks to everyone who’s helped me along my intern journey. Thanks to Arts & Business Cymru for all of the support and workshops, and to Sherman Theatre for welcoming and supporting me and always having a great selection of cakes! I’ve learned so much from all departments and widened my skills through the various workshops, training and voluntary activities.

Thank you for the invaluable advice from my business mentor, Hayley, and my arts mentor, Julia, both of whom have given me guidance and support throughout. They have also developed my confidence and encouraged me to grab every developmental opportunity out there.

Shout out to my fellow interns; it’s been great to have a support network of individuals going through the same experiences.

Lastly, many thanks to Emma, my line manager and the passionate fundraising guru at Sherman Theatre. She’s supported me throughout my internship, given me plenty of opportunity to gain comprehensive experience in all strands of fundraising, and encouraged me to grow personally. It’s difficult to sum it all up in one blog, but know that I will mark this internship as a turning point in my life.

My advice to the next round of creative interns is to savour every moment and grasp every opportunity you can!

Week 34: Sioned Young, Pontio

What a month! Looking back at my calendar since my last blog post it’s shocking to see how much has happened in the space of a few weeks.

The month of May came to an end with an exciting series of events, starting with our final staff training workshop I’d secured for a local restaurant chain. Then, came a particular highlight for me, our Gwanwyn Festival Event – a film, cake and singalong session for people over 55 years old, funded by my first ever grant application. It was great to see so many happy faces, from our audience (including many new faces to Pontio), to the entertainers, staff and event sponsors. The feedback was excellent and it was such a satisfying feeling knowing the impact my fundraising work could achieve.

To top off the month, for the final time in my internship, I travelled down from Bangor to Cardiff, this time to work at the highly anticipated Arts & Business Cymru Awards. It was a great experience in so many ways. I got to network with a variety of people, got to know Wales Millennium Centre inside and out in the matter of twelve hours, and most importantly get to be a part of the final product of Arts & Business’ many months of hard work.

So far, June has given me my fair share of work too. I helped organise and host an engagement reception, with guests including businesses, arts organisations and the University, coinciding with Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour’s exclusive visit to Pontio. I also attended Audience View training to learn how to put all my Membership work and research onto the computer system, ready to launch in the near future.

Finally, to top it all off, at the end of last week myself and the other interns participated in a CV and Interviews workshop, led by the incredibly skilled Paul Ralley from Legal & General. The advice he gave was so informative and participating in interview exercises has left me raring to go to fight my cause as a passionate and skilled fundraiser for the arts. Bring it on!

Week 33: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

I cannot believe this is the end of my internship.  It’s so difficult to know where to start this blog.  So much has happened in the last month that I want to talk about and yet with this being the end I also feel the need to reflect on my time as an Arts & Business Cymru Creative Intern.  At the start of my internship, I set myself some targets for the end, to be a great fundraiser, to have improved both my strengths and weaknesses and to have gained employment.  All of which I feel like I have achieved (although how good a fundraiser I am is hard to measure!)

I’d like to say a few quick thank yous, firstly to all my colleagues at RWCMD.  In the last eight and a bit months I’ve learnt so much about fundraising, although as ever, there is always so much to learn.  It’s difficult to remember back to day one, when I knew nothing, just the importance of raising funds and now I’ve learnt how to do that!  Without their support, this wouldn’t have been possible.  Thanks must go to my mentors, Lucy and Karen, who have advised and helped me along the way and pushed me to try things beyond my comfort zone.  Thanks to Arts & Business Cymru for all their help, training, enabling this to all happen and to Goody, for our monthly meetings, which gave me a wonderful chance to reflect on each month’s successes.  Additionally thanks to my other fellow Creative Interns, we’ve had a blast this year, from training sessions, to stock piling of food, to our intern chats, to dancing around whilst setting up the Arts & Business Awards, it’s been great being on the journey with you all.

As I near the end of my internship - I have a week left - it’s helped me realise how far I’ve come.  I’m currently organising four donor events and am sorting the guest list and invites for a further two.  Just a few weeks ago I was events managing our President’s Dinner and helping with the Arts & Business Cymru Awards.  At the start of my internship the prospect of organising one event would have seemed like a daunting prospect, now I do it without batting an eye.   It’s been really sad to have to start saying goodbye to our donors, some of which I’ve worked with very closely.  I’m hoping to pop back and see them all at some of the events I’ve organised, although, when I do, I’ll no longer be a staff member!  I’m now at the last stage of work, where you have to hand over notes and research to other colleagues, I’m particularly sad to hand over my sponsorship proposal that I worked so hard on and my masses of research notes that I’ve organised and filed away ready to be used by my colleagues.

I’ll be sad to leave the College but I’m incredibly excited for my move across the road to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.  Thank you all, it’s been a pleasure!

Week 32: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Awards Awards Awards! The Arts & Business Cymru Awards on 25 May was spectacular and such a great experience to learn from! It was an honour to be part of such a prestigious large-scale event celebrating arts and business partnerships. It was an especially important moment for Sherman Theatre as our friend Philip Carne, MBE was awarded the Robert Maskrey Award for Arts Philanthropy. This award recognises Philip’s continued generosity in supporting the arts in Wales, including both our JMK Trust and Sherman Theatre's Directors Group and New Welsh Playwrights Programme.

The theme of awards hasn’t stopped there – Guy O'Donnell, our Sherman 5 Coordinator, accepted the award for Sherman 5’s D/deaf Theatre Club at the Excellence Wales Awards presented by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru. Attending these awards was a good opportunity to meet various people and organisations to exchange ideas and stories about how to improve accessibility for D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people and people with tinnitus.

After a week of annual leave, I’m ready to bounce back into fundraising. I’m currently working on research for an application we have coming up. I love to delve in and get fully immersed within a task and this is something that I will be dedicating a large amount of time to over the next few weeks. Working within an environment that encourages every opportunity for personal development, I’ll also be starting a new project this month at Sherman Theatre – watch this space!

Week 31: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

It’s been a big month…GDPR.  The Arts & Business Awards.  A new project. 

The acronym on everyone’s lips as we approached the 25th May was GDPR.  Like Y2K it was an enormous looming fear.  But instead of computer systems crashing, the terror was that rogue ICO workers were lurking behind potted ferns in every foyer, ready to ambush any receptionist who dare give out a phone number and whack them with the legendary €20million fine. 

I say all of this in good humour of course, since I’ve been quite on top of the GDPR thing for Hijinx.  I wrote the new Data Protection Policy and have updated our privacy notices.  It is a big job, and a serious one!  We should be mindful of people’s personal information and keep them in the loop as to what we’re doing with it.  But doing so has highlighted for a lot of people just how tricky it has been to navigate.

Arts & Business Awards:
It felt like this was the event our entire internships have been building towards.  It was a very strange feeling when it arrived, and it seemed to be over in a flash!  From my point of view working the event: great fun!  I thrive on the activity of doing work like this, so I felt in my element.  The event itself went well and all the guests I spoke to seemed to have great fun. 

Additionally, it was incredible to see a project that my company had been involved in win two awards!  One of the actors, who I know quite well from assisting on the youth group, went up to accept the award with the business representative, leading to an “It’s just allergies!” moment.

A New Project:

In the last couple of months of my internship, I’m going to be heavily focused on strengthening the company’s case for support.  This will involve working closely with the actors in Hijinx Academies to find out about their experiences working with us and gather information that might be useful for our funding applications.  First interviews have already taken place and it’s going great so far!  I’m looking forward to meeting with everyone else. 

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 foun