Thursday, 3 February 2011


Issue: Plan B: You have just lost your funding. What next?

Convener(s): Mark Price

Participants: A select group of lovely and well informed people

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A wide ranging discussion – sorry not to get it all down.

Withdrawal of funding is not just a financial problem. It affects confidence too. Can feel hard to appreciate that Arts Council (AC) withdrawal doesn’t mean the work is valueless.

But an opportunity too. Can reassess company role – what you are there for, what do you believe in? Galvanise your community. Can lead to an increase in independence.

There are no easy answers to getting more money. Current climate means more people chasing fewer funds from private sources.

Knock on effects – we in a spider’s web of interdependence.


Hire fundraiser
Pool fundraiser with other organizations.
Pooling backroom and sharing resource (nb increasing an AC requirement)
Co-productions. Popular with administrators, but some artistic directors reluctant to lose control. Change the thinking – it’s a project we are all coming together to work on.
More conservative programming

Important to balance the portfolio of income – should spread risk to improve resilience.

Recent report ‘Capital Matters’ – public funding not just to make the work, but to enable company to build reserves for the hard times / experimentation.

Hesitancy re individual philanthropists – what is their interest?
Fear of their interest and wish for control.
What does the private sector really want from us. Strange bedfellows

Experience in US:

Many very well funded organizations by individual benefactors.
Culture of personal philanthropy
But impressive tax benefits for benefactors we don’t have


a) it’s very difficult to present new work, and what is tends to be much more conservative. US writers often send new work to UK theatres as no chance in the US.

b) At times of financial crisis organizations can be hit from multiple angles - losing benefactors, reserves and box office.

Experience of London Bubble

We were joined by Jonathan who outlined London Bubbles’ response

Downsizing – lost 6 members of staff
Cut 2 large projects
Focused on smaller geographic area
Audit of who their friends were
Hired out spaces
Strategy to build a war chest
‘Family theatre’ – getting people to put a financial stake in productions
Luck – finding a ‘sugar daddy’ to match funding

It’s been tough – there are still huge targets.

Positive: Previously obsessed by what AC thought – now obsessed by what the audience think.

Poses difficult questions about the role of subsidy? To support work that wouldn’t happen anyway? To improve access? Need debate about what is valued.

Localism – an opportunity and threat. Postcode lottery.

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