The Witham didn't make on the Arts Council's National Portfolio for 2018 - 22
I’m really sorry to say The Witham didn’t secure the National Portfolio Organisation Funding that we’d hoped to, as announced on 27th June. We put in a strong bid – the feedback from the Arts Council was very positive in response to how we deliver artistic excellence and engage our audiences. We met all the criteria required and were praised for the work we’ve achieved and our plans for the future.
So why didn’t we get it?
- The Arts Council highlighted that we’ve never managed a large budget. Caroline rather poignantly pointed out, it’s can be harder to manage a small budget than a large one. That said, we as an organisation are a young arts centre. Compared to other organisations, we have only been going for four years in our current guise and this doesn’t give the Arts Council the proof of longevity they like to know we’re sustainable over longer periods of time. For example, Pocklington Arts Centre were awarded NPO for the first time this year and they started their journey in 2000.
- We were able to demonstrate diversity in our programming but not as much in our staff or audience compared to other areas. This is a tough one as we can only be as diverse as the population around us and as a rural upland community, this will always be limited.
- Competition was extremely fierce – not one new combined arts venue in County Durham received NPO funding.
So our next steps (after dusting ourselves off) are:
- Our future viability is dependent on fundraising. NPO would have lifted the pressure to secure our future for four years. Without it, we have sufficient funds for the time being, having securing the Grants for the Arts money which covers much of this year but we need to be constantly continuing to fundraise to still be here in a year, two years, three years time.
- We are going to raise funds in four ways – work with corporate partners to secure their support, place bids to various organisations to support both project work and capital requirements, increasingly raise awareness with the public of the necessity of supporting The Witham in an ongoing basis and running fundraising events (such as Christmas dos, New Year’s Eve and the Beer and Busk in August) to bring in funds.
- The staff team will continue to work our socks off, and we will continue too to be stretched to cover the day to day running of the building as well as the programming, strategy, marketing, maintenance and fundraising. We need our volunteers more than ever now not only to help maintain the customer service requirements but also to be ambassadors in the local community to help spread the word about the Witham and about fund raising requirements.
- We will work towards the next NPO funding draft in 2022 (the bid will be due in 2021), continuing to work as we have to raise our profile, make new and exciting partnership, keep The Witham pulsing with excellent arts and community activity so we’re ripe for the next NPO funding opportunity.
Thanks to those who have popped your head round the door to ask about the news and I’m so sorry it’s not better news. The team here have been reeling a little after what has been a very tough few months but we are ready to continue to work hard to make The Witham flourish and, with your help, I have no doubt we can do that.
We are not going to close our doors in the next few months and with hard work and focus, we won’t do so in the next few years but our path unfortunately won’t be as easy as it would have been had we made it on to the Arts Council’s National Portfolio.
With your help, I know we will continue to thrive – thank you in advance for all you can do to help us.
Katy Taylor and The Witham team