Financial resilience seems to be high on the political agenda and is becoming increasingly central to the strategic planning and direction of both the Arts Council (ACE) and the cultural sector more widely. In the recent DCMS review, the first for seven years, financial sustainability runs throughout the whole report and makes a broad series of recommendations for measures that ACE should take to build the financial resilience of the sector, including:
* further integrate financial sustainability into its grant applications
* support the sector to build financial skills that will help organisations diversify further their revenue streams and explore “alternatives to pure grants”
* embed commercial skills and commercial leadership, and support organisations to become ‘investment ready’
* facilitate the sharing of best practice so that organisations can learn from each other how to “strengthen their respective financial resilience models”
* innovate around business delivery, such as touring models, fundraising and digital skills
* encourage partnerships to reduce costs, “for example by providing capital grants for organisations to share space, storage and/or services”
Fittingly, ACE have announced some very interesting and, I hope, impactful, projects that will help the sector to fulfil these ambitions. I recently attended a seminar in Southampton about Prosper (www.creativeunited.org.uk), a new initiative that provides a funded business support programme for the arts, museums and libraries. It is delivered by Creative United and offers arts and cultural organisations, companies or individual entrepreneurs in England the opportunity to participate in nine months of free business support activities to improve resilience, commercial capacity and investment readiness. I have also recently attended a Leadership and Sustainability course run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (and funded by Lloyds Foundation) and I know that a scheme involving a collaboration between ACE and SSE is also being rolled out soon. The beauty of these initiatives is that they are open to individual artists.
Another new, and noteworthy, programme in our area and well worth looking at is The Network for Creative Enterprise Residencies. A partnership of Bristol and Bath-based organisations who are offering business support for creative individuals and small companies to develop a creative idea into an economically sustainable business. See more info: www.theguildhub.co.uk
Here at Creativity Works we are very interested in how we can support individual artists to be more resilient and to increase their capacity for employment. We will be running our very popular Art of Fundraising co|Create on the 6th July in Bath (see under co|Create news in this newsletter for full details) and are very interested to hear further from artists about how we can support them in their enterprise ambitions. Do get in touch.
I am now off on a week’s break to the Lake District which will, I hope when I return, make me more resilient for the year ahead, however with two small children to entertain, will doubtless leave me financially unsustainable!
Director, Creativity Works