Saturday, October 20, 2007

Season of the Arts: Time to Plan Ahead!

Fall is in the air – soon leaves will be changing and the weather will be crisp and clear. This is the time for football, back to school….. and back to the arts.

Fall and winter comprise what is known as high season for many different types of performance and exhibition organizations – Ballet, Opera, Theater – all are in full swing, taking advantage of the increased audiences during the school-year routine schedule and holidays.

Even though directors and producers may be swamped with all of the details of planning for and producing shows, you should also remember to organize all of your attachment information for next year’s fundraising campaign.

This is absolutely the best time to gather and organize everything you will need to make your grant writing campaign a success for next year:

1. Keep plenty of samples of your most impressive programs to use as grant attachments. This goes for brochures, newsletters, advertisements, and email campaigns too.
2. Gather all of the wonderful press you receive – news stories, mentions on websites, reviews. This is terrific support material for showing community support and artistic growth.
3. Keep all letters that you receive – even emails – from patrons who enjoyed your spectacular production.
4. Get the stats – how many people attended each show or exhibit, how much did you earn, who performed, tickets sold, waiting list that could not be accommodated – this is great justification for increased funding for a larger venue or additional performances.
5. Make sure to collect each and every email address, phone number, and address that you can from anyone attending – then conduct that fundraising drive in the off season using all of this information.
6. Keep track of expenses – advertising, space rentals, etc. – for each performance and revise your operating budget for next year accordingly.

File and track all of this information by show, event, or exhibit. Then for each grant application, you can combine it accordingly –by venue perhaps if you want to prove that you need extra nights in smaller venues, or by type of programming if you want to approach a children’s funder, or by type of artist if international programming proved particularly successful. Think of new types of funders to approach for your basic programming. Or ask your grant writer for advice.

It may be hard to plan ahead, but it is easier to keep track now than it will be to try to recover lost information later, in the middle of a grant request and up against a deadline.