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Yesterday I was in Bristol, the land of blue taxis, sheds and the eponymous engineer, Brunel. Michael Kaiser, the American grand-daddy of arts management was in town courtesy of the Arts Council to impart his years of knowledge on the pressing subject of fundraising. Hosted at the wonderful Watershed, the man with an answer for everything enlightened an eager crowd with his top 25 arts fundraising tips.  These are my particular highlights:

Yesterday I was in Bristol, the land of blue taxis, sheds and the eponymous engineer, Brunel. Michael Kaiser, the American grand-daddy of arts management was in town courtesy of the Arts Council to impart his years of knowledge on the pressing subject of fundraising. Hosted at the wonderful Watershed, the man with an answer for everything enlightened an eager crowd with his top 25 arts fundraising tips. These are my particular highlights:

  1. Fundraising is most successful for organisations that create exciting art or ideas, follow aggressive marketing campaigns and welcome new members to their ‘family’

  2. Fundraising is not begging – it is matching needs

  3. Fundraising takes time – essential to do long term planning with a range of project ideas

  4. Individual donors value experiences more than mugs

  5. Do not only contact funders when you want money. Keep talking.

So with lots of exciting fundraising ideas flying around in my mind and being in the Bristol for the first time I then turbo tourism-ed it round a few cultural highlights of the city, and they did not disappoint. The Arnolfini, the Architecture Centre and Spike Island were all in walking distance. Top of the tree for me was artist studios, gallery and café space, Spike Island and their engaging solo exhibition from Marjolijn Dijkman, (who incidentally the RSA commissioned as part of the earlier Arts and Ecology programme).  The main work here however was Theatrum Orbison Terrarum (2005-ongoing) a fascinating play on the way we map cities and environments around the world.  The room is arranged in near floor to ceiling columns of photographs which correspond to a list of alphabetical verbs printed on the wall, verbs including botch, collapse, divide, fetishise, open up, interweave and surround. The geographic locations of the images remained undisclosed and so to make sense of this regimented display of imagery the game of matching the verbs to the columns begans.  Clever.

The icing on this RSA cultural detour, was LUNÄ (2011) Dijkman’s representation of the dining table the Lunar Society sat round to discuss issues of the day during the Enlightenment. How very topical.

So thank you Bristol, I did leave enlightened. Now back to those fundraising ideas...

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