Need a fundraising advantage? Here’s how you can seize it.

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Richard Watts

Staying abreast of the latest fundraising trends and challenges is made simpler when international knowledge is shared.
Need a fundraising advantage? Here’s how you can seize it.

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After a tumultuous few years for the Australian arts sector, including the rise and fall of the Catalyst program and the loss – and eventual return – of funding to the Australia Council, it’s tempting to hope for a return to the status quo.

But as Indian arts entrepreneur Sanjoy K. Roy explains, now is actually the perfect time to challenge our conventional thinking around arts funding – to seek out new paradigms and different funding models rather than re-embracing old concepts.


Such an opportunity is presented by the upcoming Culture Business: The Art of Fundraising conference in Melbourne over 26 – 28 July.

‘I think the world over, the creative industries have been to some extent dependent on government and governments’ fanciful notions – which vary from party to party,’ Roy explained.

‘The creative industries have to become independent as far as possible; I think that’s the take-away in all of this, and in what better way to do it than given this opportunity which Australia currently faces?’

The Managing Director of Teamwork Arts (a global production house working across multiple art forms and with offices ranging from Cairo and Chicago to Singapore and Sydney), Roy will be one of 10 international speakers appearing at Culture Business 2017 Melbourne.

Learn more about Culture Business 2017 Melbourne: The Art of Fundraising

Appearing alongside leading figures in the fundraising, sponsorship and partnership field – including Michelle Stein, Head of Major Gifts at the British Museum, and Alice van der Slikke, Manager Professional Services at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum – Roy’s keynote address will look at the future of fundraising, with a particular emphasis on the way the creative industries can leverage off their unique place in society.

‘What I think creative industry professionals need to do is to explain to government that this is an enormously valuable industry which creates both tangible and intangible wealth. We all know the kind of intangible wealth it creates but when it comes to tangible wealth, it creates jobs, it contributes to GDP, it contributes to local economies, it gives back to society in so many ways,’ he explained.

Roy believes that in the years to come, governments will become increasingly reliant on the flexible and outside-the-box thinking which drives the arts.

‘The future of any industrial nation has to be ahead of the curve and they can only do so through creative thought and processes … and so the creative industries people have to group together to try and push this kind of policy.’

But to do so, the creative industries will need to work together to convince government to treat them like other industries: ‘To ensure that they provide enough resources – be it tax breaks, be it incentives, be it infrastructure, be it policy changes – so that these people in the creative industries can realise their fullest potential,’ he said.

Simultaneously, the sector will need to diversify its incomes streams, but such an approach needs considered holistically and carefully.

‘So it can't just be, “we will attempt to turn our back on government and look for sponsorship”. It has to work side by side, but it needs a complete shift in thinking. And that thinking is not going to shift because government wants it to shift; it has to come from people involved in the creative industries,’ Roy explained.

What is Culture Business?

Launched in Paris in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Culture Business brings together experts from the business and cultural sectors to explore best practice and fresh ideas – in the case of Culture Business Melbourne, ideas around philanthropy, marketing, sponsorship and development.

‘Any conference today has two really valuable inputs. One is knowledge and information which you get from the speakers who come to present at these conferences. And two, it’s a rich, invaluable platform where you’re able to network, with not just the speakers but with your peers and your contemporaries,’ said Roy.

‘Conferences happen at different levels … and some international conferences can really cross a divide; in a sense bringing people from both sides of the divide, both sides of the ocean together. There is great value in it and hopefully people will come to this conference to understand and share and expand their knowledge.’

Book now for Culture Business Melbourne: The Art of Fundraising

Roy compares the value of an international conference like Culture Business to attending a major film festival.

‘I remember many years ago at Cannes somebody came out to me and said “I’ve only seen two good movies or three good movies at the festival,” and I said “That’s what festivals are about!” If you come out with three or four first-grade, incredible things that lift your soul and give you that brilliant idea to take forward for the rest of your life, that’s enough,’ he said.

‘Here you’ve got thinking from across the world, you’ve got good practices, you’ve got ideas, you’ve people talking to each other – and that’s how ideas come about, and that can give you inspiration. Even if you come out from the conference with just one good idea, it might win you a million dollars, two million dollars for that huge project you have planned.’

Culture Business 2017 Melbourne: The Art of Fundraising
State Library of Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne
26 – 28 July 2017

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.

The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, Richard currently serves on the board of literary journal Going Down Swinging and on the Committee of Management for La Mama Theatre. He is a former member of the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel, a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.

Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts