For almost four decades, Neighbourhood Dance Works (NDW) has been helping introduce the people of this province to the incredible world of contemporary dance. Through workshops, artist residences, events like the annual Festival of New Dance, and various outreach and engagement activities, NDW has been fostering an appreciation of dance, and helping to develop and grow the dance community, in Newfoundland and Labrador. They have also brought acclaimed dancers and troupes to the province to give local audiences an experience they might not get otherwise. (More recently, NDW joined forces with the Arts & Culture Centre and Artistic Fraud to bring Kidd Pivot’s mind-bending show “Revisor” to the stage of the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre on February 14 (its only tour stop in Atlantic Canada).
NDW and Artistic Fraud are also two of 10 local non-profit arts organizations that have been participating in Business & Arts NL’s ArtSupport NL program, which aims to help members of the arts sector evaluate and enhance their fundraising processes. This week, we chat with Calla Lachance, NDW’s Artistic and Executive Director, to get a peek into how they’ve been able to put these lessons into practice.
Business & Arts NL: Why initially was NDW interested in participating in the ArtSupport NL program?
Calla Lachance: Gaining a better understanding of how to tackle the ever-pressing issue of fundraising is critical. We, like all the other non-profits, need intimate knowledge of where to begin, how to proceed, and how to execute a comprehensive plan that stands a chance to hold up in these times of donor saturation. So, our interest was quite straight forward – to add tools to our toolkit so we could move ahead better informed and equipped.
Business & Arts NL: What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned thus far over the course of the program?
CL: Building meaningful relationships with potential donors is key, and by meaningful I mean actually talking with one another. Building the relationships, having sincere dialogue, looking at reciprocal benefits, thinking about ripple affects and envisioning how we can make communities better is important. We have a mandate to support and grow the arts sector in this province. If we can find like-mined philanthropists who are passionate about what we stand for, well that is magic. The other thing I learned is that it takes A LOT of time to do this right! This work can not be done overnight.
Business & Arts NL: Has the program helped NDW achieve any of their overall goals, or do you have any activities/events coming up in which you’ll be able to implement some of the lessons learned?
CL: Through mentorship, NDW has established some key documents, like a clear Case for Support, as well as a donor database that aligns well with our artistic goals. We have built broader board awareness of the role they play in our organization’s long-term fundraising and sponsorship objectives. We have also built more realistic timelines into our fundraising plans so we can increase our chances for success. We have a fun raffle on the go right now – for a chance to win a hefty Fluevog gift card. If you don’t know about Fluevog you should – they are a Canadian shoe company who make incredible shoes. We dancers love them!