Following on from Grimsby Creates funding three local creative practitioners to attend the prestigious National Arts Fundraising School (NAFS) online programme, local artist Lisa February provides us with a flavour of how the programme went and how it has helped her:
What is your creative practice?: Artist, specialising in theatre and spoken word.
How do you wish to use the learning from the NAFS course?: I want to be a part of changing our local creative landscape for the better. Working towards a more collaborative, accessible sector and supporting less experienced artists in working out what a career in the arts can look like here. Because of the NAFS course, I have a much broader understanding of fundraising in the arts and am in more of a position to also help others make sense of it. I also hope that the training will allow me to be a better critical friend, and supporter of local organisations applying for funding.
How will the learning help you solve problems and exploit opportunities?: A major issue in the arts for people in similar positions to myself is the inaccessibility of funding. The NAFS course broadened my knowledge of funding opportunities and how to approach them, in order to have the best chance of success. The basics of this knowledge are something I’m really keen to share with others, and although that won’t solve the problem of inaccessibility, will at least provide a starting point for learning. I will also continue to develop my own knowledge from this learning, in order to contribute to the local arts sector positively and productively.
How closely did the programme align with the objectives that you initially set out?: In my initial NAFS application, I said that I wanted to learn more about long term structures and ensuring the success and longevity of future projects. Through the course, I was able to get a better idea of different funding routes in order to actualise this ambition. I hoped that my professional confidence would grow from taking part in the programme, and I do think this has happened. I’m able to engage in and understand conversations that previously would have been difficult for me. I’m able to be a better critical friend and trust in my own opinion.
Are you able to quantify any other benefits from the knowledge gained?: Myself and my partner, Matt Gray, were recently successful in our first ACE bid. We submitted after Week One of the programme, which did influence our bid but I’d wait and see how the next couple of years play out in terms of certain quantifiable benefits.
Are there any further benefits that you can highlight from the programme?: The course confirmed that I do have a lot of skills needed to be successful in fundraising, and has helped me to feel more confident and assured in my own professional capacity.
What are challenges and areas of improvement for you in the future in evolving your practice?: I’ve found an area of the sector I feel extremely passionate about – accessibility and opportunity. I think the biggest challenge for me in terms of evolving my practice will be working out how I can positively contribute to our local arts sector in ways that are innovative and have longevity, whilst also developing my own craft as an artist.We were told early on in the NAFS course that ‘fundraising isn’t fair’, and it really stuck with me. Even if I can’t make fundraising fair, I want to do everything in my power to make the process of applying for and receiving funding fairer so opportunities are not reserved for a select group of people who possess that knowledge. Collaborative and supportive approaches feel like the way forward.
In the absence of CDF-funded support, how would you have alternatively sought support?: Without CDF, the NAFS course would have been off my radar, and also out of reach financially. To be honest, I’m not sure how else I’d have found similar support, aside from learning through the organisations I work with, and picking up skills along the way.