Philanthropy is about empathy

Children get creative with clay
02 May 2024

In the first of our series looking at the role of philanthropy in arts funding, Caroline McCormick of the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation argues that the financial plight of our cultural institutions is undermining their huge impact.

Charitable legacies: The time to act is now

Hand drawn vector illustration of charitable symbols
18 Apr 2023

In the next 30 years, a record £5.5 trillion is set to be transferred between generations, as either inheritance or gifts. Michelle Wright thinks legacy giving is a neglected area of fundraising.

Making friends with philanthropy advisors

Graphic showing aerial view of people holding hands in concentric circles/a spiral
09 May 2024

You may not have met a philanthropy advisor before, but it is a growing profession, so be ready. Emma Beeston, who’s been one for ten years, explains how they work and why they can be helpful for your organisation.

Philanthropy in 2024: More questions than answers

Abstract painting
30 Apr 2024

As activity this year gathers pace, Michelle Wright explores the many quandaries arts organisations have to navigate in deciding where to focus their fundraising efforts.

Gallery launches crowdfunder for redesign

29 Apr 2024

An art gallery in Oxford has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £25,000 toward a £2m renovation.

The campaign by Modern Art Oxford, run on Art Fund's Art Happens platform, will support an overhaul of the Victorian building's ground and lower ground floors.

Plans for the gallery include revamping the entrance, creating a social area with a digital display, a new gallery for exhibitions featuring local artists, a dedicated studio space, and a new cafe.

Director Paul Hobson said the fundraiser would allow the venue to "fully equip and furnish" its public spaces for "the best possible welcome and creative offer for our diverse communities".

Rewards for donors include artist-designed merchandise, a private art-making workshop and a contemporary art tour in London with Hobson.


LA funding survey: Fears of 'unsustainable' strain on trusts

18 Apr 2024

Council cuts to arts budgets have left charitable trusts and foundations 'overwhelmed' with applications for funding as arts and culture organisations attempt to source alternative income.

Museum warns of closure risk over energy costs

08 Apr 2024

A museum in Wales has launched a public appeal to help it remain open in the face of soaring energy bills.

Llandudno Museum says its costs have quadrupled, and the grant funding it receives does not cover the rise.

"It is definitely a threat because at the moment our energy bills are in the region of £35,000 a year, which is astronomic," Director Dawn Lancaster told ITV News

"We can't turn everything off because we have to have stable conditions to maintain the artefacts in the building."

The museum reopened in 2022 after a £1.6m redevelopment scheme partly funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with the remainder of the money coming mostly in grants from other charitable bodies, and an annual grant from Llandudno Town Council.

It says it needs to raise £80,000 by October.

Wigmore Hall opens fund aimed at self-sufficiency

02 Apr 2024

The classical music venue’s new fund has been set up to allow it to run without funds from the public purse if ever necessary, amid “an uncertain public funding environment for classical music”.

Campaign to boost culture investment launches

27 Mar 2024

A UK-wide campaign designed to highlight the impact culture and heritage organisations make within their communities in the run-up to the next general election will launch in May.

Established by the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation, the 'Culture Makes…' campaign intends to make the case for culture and as a human right "which urgently needs investment".

More than 40 organisations including Bristol Old Vic, Northern Ballet, and the Southbank Centre have been confirmed as campaign "partners" with the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation calling for all cultural organisations in the UK to join.

Caroline McCormick, Chair of the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation, said: “Cultural and heritage organisations have long wrestled with how to communicate the value and impact of their work. 

"Culture Makes… comes at a critical time enabling us to come together through a clear and simple set of linguistic tools which will allow us to celebrate and raise awareness of the impact of the sector as a whole and the individual contributions each organisation makes with government and policy makers, funders, and our audiences. 

"Our aim is to build an overwhelmingly powerful sector voice that cannot be ignored."

Big Give arts campaign raises £2.8m

27 Mar 2024

The inaugural arts-focused campaign run by match-funding platform Big Give has raised £2.8m.

Operating in partnership with New Philanthropy for Arts & Culture (NPAC), the campaign ran for a week before closing on Tuesday (26 March).

A total of 239 arts organisations were selected to take part in the campaign. Big Give and NPAC have said they focused on ensuring that funds and support are being spread across the country and to as wide a group of charities as possible, particularly those that are small-scale. 

A total of 159 (66%) of the charities participating have an income of £1m or less. And 76% of the charities
work in regions outside of London.

James Reed, Chair of the Big Give's Board of Trustees, said: "Arts charities play a central and crucial role in the lives of the people they support, and their time and services are being called upon now more than ever. 

"They have endured many cuts and disappointments, so securing funding for the charities from our match funders and the public is especially important."

The Watermill: Life outside the National Portfolio

Watermill theatre
18 Mar 2024

A year after losing ACE funding, Berkshire's Watermill Theatre has had some sweet successes. Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive Claire Murray charts the downs and ups of a rollercoaster year. 

Watermill receives extra £20k from local trust

14 Feb 2024

Greenham Trust has granted £20k of match funding to Watermill Theatre to help “secure the future work” of the former Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation.

The support is being offered via a fundraising alliance established by Greenham Trust to support the Newbury venue following its 100% ACE funding cut announced in November 2022.

The alliance, which also includes The Headley Trust, the Bernard Sunley Foundation and Englefield Charitable Trust, has provided £78k of funding to the 200-seat theatre, pledged to match public donations to Watermill’s PROPEL campaign.

“As soon as we heard about the funding cut by [ACE], we realised there would be a need to engage a number of local helping The Watermill," said Chris Boulton, CEO of Greenham Trust.

"This was quickly put together working with their team, and I hope our £20k contribution so far will generate another matched-funding boost for their already successful PROPEL Campaign.”

Claire Murray, Executive Director at Watermill Theatre, added: “By establishing the funding alliance, Greenham Trust has gone further in securing the future work of The Watermill."

Use philanthropy to increase arts funding, says Robertson

Scotland's Culture Secretary Angus Robertson
23 Jan 2024

Scotland’s Cultural Secretary Angus Robertson says exploring new funding streams in addition to government funding, and working closely with local authorities, will be key for the future of the sector.

Finding fundraising focus amid the turbulence

Graffiti on a brick wall reading 'Together We Create'
10 Jan 2024

At the start of 2024, Michelle Wright offers her expert advice about where to focus your fundraising energies in a climate of uncertainty.

Legacy income 'growth area for arts charities'

View inside the Royal Opera House
21 Dec 2023

Only five arts and culture organisations feature among the top 1,000 UK charities by legacy income, but experts highlight potential for significant growth in this field. 

Peter Kay shows raise £80,000 for Bolton theatre

11 Dec 2023

Bolton Octagon has raised £80,000 after comedian Peter Kay performed three fundraising shows at the venue on Sunday (10 December).

Kay, who hails from Bolton, was a member of the Octagon's youth theatre and worked in the box office for around four months in the 1990s - before being "let go".

Kay thanked the audiences of the 390-seat venue for “coming and supporting a very worthy cause."

Octagon Chief Executive Roddy Gauld told the BBC the event would give the venue "a big boost" and help to keep ticket prices down.

"Running a theatre like this is tough right now," he said.

"Costs have risen, as they have for every business and every household. And as people have less money to spend, that trip to the theatre might be something that they decide to cut down on at the moment.

"So having a big draw like Peter Kay makes a massive difference."

Fundraiser to save Coventry venue backed by artists

11 Dec 2023

An appeal to save a Coventry arts venue at risk of closure has received the support of big-name artists who have donated their work to the cause.

The founders of Commonground, an accessible venue that hosts live music and exhibitions, say they need to raise £12,000 to keep the doors open until the new year. The building's current running costs are met by their savings, personal loans and refreshment sales.

Prints of works by artists, including 2011 Turner Prize nominee George Shaw and photographer Richard Sadler are being offered as rewards to those who donate to the appeal. 

"Our community has come to our rescue and offered artworks for us to use as incentives to donate," said Kate Rossin and John Randle.

The pair say they have a financial plan for 2024, with "new funding options" and a programme of events. 

Norwich theatre revives £5m revamp plans

06 Dec 2023

Plans to improve facilities at Norwich Theatre Playhouse are back on the table after they were previously shelved due to the Covid pandemic.

The Eastern Daily Press reports that the Norfolk venue wants to upgrade its backstage facilities and create more indoor space.

Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive and Creative Director of Norwich Theatre said: “The project is being drawn up at the moment, and we hope to be able to share more in May next year, including designs and any funding plans. 

“It is likely there will be a public appeal, as we know many people love the Playhouse and want to see it thrive."

Community campaign to reopen Somerset theatre gathers pace

05 Dec 2023

A campaign group hoping to reopen a theatre in Somerset says it has been given backing from the local community.

The BBC reports that Let's Buy The Amulet campaign recently carried out a survey to gauge public opinion on purchasing the Shepton Mallet venues, revealing that the response was "overwhelmingly positive".

The building was used as a theatre after being built in 1974 but went into private ownership in 2011. The campaign group wants it to operate as a museum, theatre, and cinema, as well as host craft markets and art workshops.

Martin Berkeley, from the campaign, said: "We would hope that some shows could still go on there, but its value is as a community centre."

The group is working on an application for funding from the government's Community Ownership Fund, which it hopes to submit in spring 2024.




‘Hazardous substance risk’ behind museum closure

01 Dec 2023

A museum was prevented from reopening after a health and safety inspection discovered  "hazardous substances risks", according to a heritage organisation.

The Wirral Transport Museum and Tramway was closed on 20 April by Wirral Council following an inspection by the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), which found “significant contraventions of health and safety law” both in the building and in the procedures of how the museum and tramline operated.

Big Heritage,  which finalised its takeover of the museum on 17 November from the Wirral Council, said that the closure had been an "inconvenience, but no inconvenience supersedes public safety and the risk to life of visitors and volunteers".

In a statement, Big Heritage said: "We have every sympathy with volunteers and visitors who have been frustrated at this situation.

"But we can attest that Wirral Council took the results of the inspection very seriously and have spent considerable time and resources to address the issues raised as quickly as possible."

The company said procedures had been implemented to monitor and record a range of health and safety and control of hazardous substances risks. It added that a model railway donated 20 years ago has been removed from display as it posed a serious fire risk.

Big Heritage has announced plans to raise over £5m to transform the museum and double its size.

A Wirral Council spokesperson told the BBC: "Ahead of the transfer of the building, there were several issues identified by the council and the ORR report that needed to be addressed and which required the facility to remain closed so the work could be carried out safely.

"The security and upkeep of the building is now in the hands of Big Heritage CIC, while the council-owned heritage trams are on loan to them, with specific contractual requirements around their safety, security and maintenance.

"The council is committed to providing ongoing support to all parties with an interest in the future success of the Wirral Transport Museum."


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