If you’re a fan of local theatre, chances are you’ve visited the LSPU Hall at one point or another to take in a production by its resident company, RCA Theatre Company. For almost four decades, Resource Centre for the Arts (RCA) has been supporting and promoting the creation, development and advancement of the performing arts in Newfoundland and Labrador, strengthening our cultural sector and enlivening our communities.
In addition to helping foster some of the province’s best and brightest talent, including Rick Mercer, Mary Walsh, Andy Jones, Robert Chafe and Susan Kent (just to name a few), RCA continues to help dozens of emerging artists hone their talents and find their own unique voice. Through sharing our stories, producing art that is accessible to all and helping local talent thrive, it has become a vital institution.
Earlier this year, RCA joined 11 other arts groups at Rocket Bakery in downtown St. John’s for the kick-off of Business & Arts NL’s ArtSupport NL program. The 18-month program aims to help not-for-profit arts and culture organizations strengthen their fundraising practices and build donor engagement. We chatted with Suzanne Mullett, General Manager of RCA/LSPU Hall, about the experience and how it will help going forward.
Business & Arts NL: Why, initially, was RCA interested in participating in the ArtSupport NL program?
Suzanne Mullett: Our initial interest was mainly motivated by trying to increase sponsorship money, as we have lost about 50 per cent of those dollars over the past two years. In addition, we believe it’s imperative for RCA to have a sustainable fundraising plan.
Business & Arts NL: What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned thus far over the course of the program?
SM: An organization’s fundraising plan can be siloed, and for such a plan to be effective, it has to be fully integrated into the planning of the whole of the organization and based on the case for support.
Business & Arts NL: Did the program help achieve any of RCA’s goals for this year? Do you have any other events or projects coming up in which you’ll be able to implement some of the lessons learned?
SM: The program has helped us start to realize our goals, but we believe it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are fundamental changes that have to occur before we are able to focus solely on fundraising. In doing our annual letter donation campaign, we were able to get advice from our consultant and we feel we upped our game this year in terms of how we presented ourselves to our donors. It has allowed us to realize that we need to look at ourselves more objectively through the lens of our donors and audience.
Business & Arts NL: How will the program help RCA meet its overall goals?
SM: Our main goal is to have an integrated fund development strategy to attract top tier donors and sponsors, and we believe this program has given us the tools to develop and sustain these relationships.
Business & Arts NL: Are there any important takeaways from this program that you’d like to share with other arts organizations?
SM: When there is an issue, deal with it as soon as possible because if it is not dealt with in a timely fashion, it will have adverse affects on all of the organization and start to affect the well-being of staff.