Nestled away in the lovely community of Cupids, the oldest English colony in Canada, Perchance Theatre is another great reason why folks flock each summer to this scenic section of Conception Bay.
Initially founded in 2010 as New World Theatre Project (as part of the Cupids 400 celebrations), Perchance has been providing opportunities for emerging and established artists, while delighting audiences with some of the very best in classical theatre, with a focus on the works of Shakespeare.
This past winter, Perchance was one of 12 not-for-profit arts and culture organizations chosen to participate in ArtSupport NL. The 18-month program, administered by Business & Arts NL, brings the organizations together with fundraising consultants from RBR Development Associates Ltd. to strengthen their fundraising practices and build donor engagement.
In March, two participants from each organization attended an initial five-day training session at Rocket Bakery in downtown St. John’s – but their journeys aren’t over yet.
We recently chatted with Danielle Irvine, Artistic Director of Perchance Theatre, about some of the lessons learned and forging the path ahead.
Business & Arts NL: Why, initially, was Perchance interested in participating in the ArtSupport NL program?
Danielle Irvine: We are a young and growing company with lots of knowledge, but we also knew what we didn’t know. And we didn’t know how to build up our patrons and sponsors side of the organization. We had been making attempts, but knew that we were missing information. When we heard about this program, we thought it would be our “missing link” and indeed it was!
Business & Arts NL: What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned thus far over the course of the program?
DI: Oh my gosh, that is really hard to sum up in one. The whole thing was a Niagara Falls of information that was exactly what we were looking for! But, personally, I always struggled asking for money, feeling guilty about it. Realizing that we are not asking for us, but for the VISION, was absolutely liberating for me. Because, when I really thought about it – that was why I was there! And once I really understood that, all these ideas opened up, and the ability to articulate a case for support became really easy and natural.
Business & Arts NL: Do you have any specific events, projects or activities coming up in which you’ll be able to implement some of the lessons learned? How will the program help you meet your overall goals?
DI: For Perchance, we literally started implementing ideas within a week of the course and it transformed our whole season. We did build our first “case for support” and we used it to secure our first high-level sponsors and donors. We did an event similar to events we are known for, but with added touches we learned from this course. And we all, as a board and staff, are on board with making sure we are doing proper donor management.
Business & Arts NL: Are there any important takeaways from this program that you’d like to share with other arts organizations?
DI: Take the advice! Some of it seems too hard, but it is so worth it. And it is absolutely scalable for small organizations – we just did!
This is the first post in a series which will look at the ArtSupport NL program and participating organizations.
Business & Arts NL gratefully acknowledges the support of our funders, Canadian Heritage’s Strategic Initiatives – Canada Cultural Investment Fund; and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation. In-kind support is provided by community partner ArtsNL and corporate sponsorship is provided by Rocket Bakery.