The Arts Council of England’s funding cuts have been the big news of the day with only around 650 organisations (out of 1330) being successful in receiving funding – although the success varies from funding increasing to funding continuing but at a lesser rate. But it does beg the question, how will those who were unsuccessful raise their income and how many will disappear under the pressure of lack of funds?
Obviously, philanthropy and sponsorship have a role to play – and I’ve blogged here before about the coalition government’s desire to increase philanthropic gifts for the arts, including their support for giving in last week’s budget. But we can’t rely on philanthropy and sponsorship to plug the gap entirely. It’s too big a gap and often it’s needed to cover core costs, which are just not that appealing to philanthropists who, in general, tend not to give to areas which have traditionally or previously been funded by government, preferring instead to provide the ‘icing on the cake’.
No-one is under any illusion that organisations will need to think creatively about diversifying their income if they have any hope of surviving and over the coming weeks and months we will no doubt see more mergers or organisations adapting by creating social enterprise/social fund models – combined with a creative and strategic approach to fundraising. Although in a small, low resourced organisation this is going to be a huge challenge to say the least.
And this challenge doesn’t just apply to the arts in England but to the entire charitable sector as a whole. Government funding is going to reduce if it hasn’t already. It’s going to be tough but there are also real opportunities out there to engage donors, optimise service delivery and achieve sustainable results.
Or perhaps I’m just being overly optimistic and a bit too glass half full? What do you think? Are the challenges insurmountable for small, lean organisations whose resources are spent on providing their core services without having to concentrate huge amounts of time on income generation?