There was plenty to celebrate at the Emera Innovation Exchange at Memorial University’s Signal Hill Campus last week.
On Thursday, March 5, members of the business and arts community came together to raise a glass to the graduates of Business & Arts NL’s ArtSupport NL program.
Modelled after similar programs in Manitoba and Australia, ArtSupport NL has helped 10 local, non-profit arts groups to strengthen their professional fundraising skills and build donor engagement. It kicked off in the winter of 2018 with a five-day bootcamp at the Rocket Room that saw groups paired with a professional development consultant from RBR Development Associates to evaluate and enhance their fundraising processes. After almost two years of working together, participants are equipped with tools and knowledge that will help their organizations thrive in the long run.
During the evening, guests visited the tables of participating arts groups for a chat and to grab some information and learn more about their respective organizations. After formally welcoming the crowd, Business & Arts NL’s Executive Director Amy Henderson gave an overview of the ArtSupport NL program and its goal to help support the sustainability of arts organizations.
Next, Suzanne Mullet, General Manager at Resource Centre for the Arts, said a few words about the talent and resiliency of the local arts community before introducing Renée Hackett, who performed an impassioned monologue from the upcoming production “Birthday Balloon.”
Hugh Donnan, CEO of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (NSO), also shared his experiences with the program before introducing NSO members Heather Kao, Steve Power and Theo Weber. The trio performed a couple of tunes to the delight of the crowd. (Click here and here to see some of their performance.)
Neighbourhood Dance Works was one of the organizations that took part in the ArtSupport NL program and Calla Lachance, Artistic Director, was also on hand to share some insight. The room was then transformed into a dance floor as members of Lindy Hop on the Rock cut a rug and transported guests to the ‘20s and ‘30s with their swinging style. (Click here to see a clip of their performance.)
Before closing out the evening, Henderson also noted the important role that a diverse board, and volunteers within the business community, play in the success of arts organizations. She also acknowledged the time and effort invested by each arts organization who took part in the program. While the definition of success was different for every group, she noted, each took big, transformative steps to achieve their individual goals.
“These are some of the biggest, most established arts organizations in our province, who create some of the most professional, evocative, inspiring works of art in our province. This program set out to help them bring their fundraising skills closer to the level of their artistic skills, so that they could encourage support from the individuals and businesses who love their work so much,” Henderson says.
Business & Arts NL is hoping to run a second phase of the program which, if approved, will allow organizations to capitalize on the work they’ve already put in, as well as provide smaller-scale fundraising supports to smaller arts organizations.