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Fundraising Fellowship: Thoughts from Muriel Foxton

Co Author:
Muriel Foxton

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) is Dublin’s premier artist studios and contemporary art gallery, providing a vital place for artists to work in Dublin city. The gallery presents innovative exhibitions platforming artists of immense promise at pivotal points in their careers and a programme of public engagement events connects people with art and artists.

In May 2017 I took up the role as Marketing and Fundraising Executive at TBG+S, made possible by the Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin programme. Our challenge is that our ambitions to develop our programmes outweigh the resources we have available. We are heavily dependent on public funding. Further, a reliance on volunteers and internships has met a level of fragility for TBG+S. The Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin helps us to become more sustainable. The programme of training and mentorship with Business to Arts began in June with monthly seminars covering everything from marketing plans to strategic plans and membership programmes to corporate sponsorship.

The seminars so far have featured guests speakers and advisors Tanya Townsend, Sponsorship Manager at Bord Gáis Energy; Aoife Flynn, Head of Audiences and Development at IMMA; Eamonn Carroll, Membership Relationship Manager, RDS; Eithne Harley, Director of Integrated Marketing, Accenture; Noel Hiney, Independent Communications Expert; Sarah Costigan, Director of Fundraising, Little Museum of Dublin and Bevin Cody, Corporate Reputation Manager, ‎ESB – who have provided valuable insights into their areas of expertise and feedback on our work.

As part of the Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin Local Community Engagement programme, TBG+S was partnered with Calcutta Run – The Legal Fundraiser – which raises vital funds for the homeless in Dublin and Calcutta, by donating to the Peter McVerry Trust and The Hope Foundation. The 12-month training and mentoring programme shares our new skills and knowledge with smaller community organisations. I recently got the opportunity to receive mentorship from Anne Mathews, who shares her invaluable advice and expertise on communications and PR.

As a result of the programme, I developed TBG+S’ first fundraising plan. This gives the organisation targeted ambitions to work towards in a focused way. The Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin ultimately transfers knowledge and gives time to focus on fundraising and our aims; to progress our ambition and achieve excellence in our artistic programmes, advance our capacity to invest in artists and increase visibility and accessibility.

In 2017 TBG+S has partnered with two new corporate sponsors. Central Bank of Ireland sponsors our education programme Creative Generations which focuses on two artists’ residencies in two inner city schools – Synge Street CBS Secondary School and O’Connell CBS Primary School. TBG+S studio artists Andreas Kindler von Knobloch and Maria McKinney worked with the children to create new collaborative artworks. The sponsorship marked the movement of Central Bank of Ireland from Dame Street to its new HQ at North Wall Quay.

Award-winning architectural practice Henry J Lyons sponsored the recent Dublin Art Book Fair 2017: Art and Architecture Interwoven, which allowed us to strengthen and develop Ireland’s only art book fair. The Fair, with a booked out programme of curated events, saw more than 2,500 visitors over the weekend.

Plans for 2018 include the launch of a new fundraising initiative which will support TBG+S to augment production budgets for exhibiting artists, to achieve their full ambition. A new sponsorship opportunity seeks a corporate partner to invest in the making of a career-defining solo exhibition by an Irish artist. Exhibiting at TBG+S marks a cornerstone in the career path of visual artists, their work often goes on to be exhibited throughout the world. The Fundraising Fellowship has helped me to set a frame around what is distinctive about what we do to support the work of artists and, to consider how we articulate our story to those who may be inspired to support our work.

By Muriel Foxton

The Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin programme is a partnership between Dublin’s Culture Connects and the New Stream Fundraising Capacity Building Project operated by Business to Arts. It offers part funding toward the employment of full-time fundraising or marketing & fundraising human resources contracted over a 24-month period and the recruited Fellows will take part in a structured programme of training and mentorship as part of the Fellowship.

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