Nadia Dooner on #Artsfunding in the #Midlands
Total private investment in the Midlands cultural sector in 2009/10 was £20.1m – an increase of 3% from the previous year. Given that nationally private investment decreased by 3% this is an encouraging result for the Midlands, particularly as it’s been one of the regions hardest hit by the recession.
Worryingly though, more than half of the total income for Midlands’ arts organisations comes from public sources – a considerably higher figure than the national picture. With public spending cuts taking effect, arts and cultural organisations are now being forced to address this reliance on public funds. Whilst the proportion of private investment is similar to the national average, organisations should now be looking to further cultivate private sector relationships and identify and develop their own earned income streams to secure their futures.
As has been often stated through recent Arts & Business research, the big opportunity for increasing private investment is through individuals by converting healthy visitor/audience numbers into additional financial support. Although the Midlands has seen a drop of 10% in individual giving, to reverse this trend regionally and nationally arts organisations should look carefully at their donor care programmes to improve retention rates – after all it’s much easier and more cost-effective to look after current donors and supporters than cultivate new. Arts organisations are in an enviable position in some ways, often having ‘warm’ audiences who already have some sort of relationship with an organisation. The challenge is to maintain this engagement and establish a clear development programme for turning an audience member/visitor into a member or donor, all backed up with a compelling and consistent ask.
In common with the arts across the UK, there is huge potential to generate income through legacies: just 6% of individual giving investment in the Midlands comes from this source but it’s estimated that the wider voluntary sector receives around £1.9billion a year from legacies. Whilst legacy fundraising is unlikely to bring any ‘quick wins’, it can provide substantial sums in the medium to long term. In fact, one could argue that leaving a charitable bequest is the easiest way for someone to continue to support their favourite organisation in these cash-strapped times. And ultimately if an organisation cares for and develops their donors well, a legacy could in fact be a very natural decision…
Arts & Business