||The Australia Council for the Arts – Major Performing Arts Board (MPAB)
The Major Performing Arts Inquiry of 1999 highlighted a number
of key issues facing the sector, from the role of government
support to changing audience demands, diversity of product and
the affects of globalisation. One of the principal findings
was that private sector income has “the potential to fundamentally
change the financial dynamics” of the arts sector, but
the report concluded that at that time the arts lacked the skills
or experience to realise that potential to the full.
It recommended that the Australia Council should assist the
28 flagship performing arts companies in building capacity in
marketing and fundraising by providing high quality training
in these disciplines. By 2003, the MPAB had commissioned Stanford
University to deliver a course in strategic planning, and the
AGSM had developed a module in marketing. The MPAB then turned
to Philanthropy Squared to provide training in “philanthropy”.
Most of the performing arts companies had been running Patrons
Programs for many years and needed something to take them beyond
the basics. What was required was a high level briefing or training
session that addressed the issue from a leadership perspective.
Our response was to develop a workshop that placed the quest
for philanthropic funds in a broader cultural and organisational
context and transferred skills in targeting and cultivating
supporters, and in particular asking for major gifts. It was
designed to de-mystify the philanthropic process and reduce
the fear factor, common among senior arts executives, of cultivating
prospects and asking for donations.
One training session alone does not change behaviour, so the
MPAB also provided funds towards a review for those companies
that wished to explore in detail their potential for starting,
or fine-tuning an existing patrons program.
The reviews involved a database analysis, screening all available
materials, in-depth interviews with organisational leaders and
other key staff. Where a major donor program was in place, it
included confidential interviews with a number of donors and
volunteers. This not only provided intelligence and feedback,
but also delivered a signal of the importance vested in the
donor by the company.
The presentation of the recommendations to the Board and executives
acted as a catalyst for generating further debate and raising
awareness of the principles and processes involved. Companies
had by their own admission been set in their ways and unsure
how to proceed. The MPAB training program has presented a great
opportunity for them to learn more about what is possible and
how to achieve it.
Owing to the success of the Philanthropy Squared workshops,
the MPAB instituted an ongoing philanthropy mentoring program
for its companies, and enlisted Philanthropy Squared to participate
in its design and implementation, in association with Artsupport
Australia, the Council's consultancy for the wider arts sector
in the fields of sponsorship and individual giving.
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