Guest Blog: Philanthropy & Emerging ArtistsDate: 7 April 2011
On Saturday I held a free philanthropy masterclass at HighTide's administrative offices in Clerkenwell, which are hosted in-kind by Lansons Communications, saving my charity £70,000 in overheads each year. A hundred emerging theatre makers attended, with five times that applying for places.
As the head of a young company, I know it takes time to build a track record for achieving artistic excellence, developing new audiences, or even instigating social change. These, however, are the benchmarks for attracting subsidy. As our industry responds to public sector cuts and established organisations are pushed to cut budgets and aggressively fundraise from trusts and foundations and individual philanthropists, it is crucial we also mentor and invest in untried talent, not least so that our business doesn't stagnate.
At HighTide we're developing with Arts Council England a talent development programme for the eastern region called the Escalator Laboratory. Emerging artists will have open access to a small bursary, rehearsal space, and mentoring from HighTide to cultivate artistic producers.
Our vision is to encourage artists to think of themselves as a mini-business, capable of sustained artistic production, with a robust governance and operating model that is capable of attracting and managing investment. We want to see more work produced that has artistic excellence and a strong marketing brand, that builds audiences locally and has a national profile through the press.
HighTide is now entering its fifth year, and as an organisation populated with a staff in their mid-twenties, we are acutely aware of the challenges of raising money when you don't have a track record. Nevertheless, our turnover is now in excess of £500,000, and to that end, I thought it might be useful to paraphrase some of the ways we raise money.
2. New Writing
4. Operating a mixed economy
5. Tailoring the ask
Steven Atkinson is artistic director of HighTide Festival, which was one of the 110 new organisations to gain – as opposed to the 206 to lose – regular funding from Arts Council England last week. From 2012/13, HighTide will receive an annual grant of £200,000 to support its work. This year, its fifth annual HighTide Festival takes place in Halesworth, Suffolk from 28 April to 8 May 2011 and features four premieres, including the playwriting debut of former poet laureate Andrew Motion.