The arts have been operating in a changeable funding environment with decreasing success rates for the past decade. There have been some positive developments too. New philanthropists, support programs and donors are making an impact in the space, and local governments have stepped in to support grass roots projects and organisations. But if you live in states like NSW, the impact of the changes to government funding have been brutal for many. Others across Australia will be spending the rest of 2019 crossing their fingers and toes, gallantly doing all they can to manifest government funding success.
If you haven’t already, it’s time now to fully flesh out the Plan B for 2020 and beyond. Try your best not to let the current state of affairs paralyse you.
While it doesn’t feel like the most uplifting way to end the year, dusting off the alternatives, crunching the numbers and looking at the possibilities of Plan B will be worth it. It will make you feel so much more prepared, empowered and primed to bring solutions to the table in 2020.
Having been on the receiving end of crucial funding knock backs, I’ve learnt a few things about how to utilise a little sideways thinking and imbed sustainable financial thinking early to keep the ship sailing.
Here’s some tips to help you:
- Put yourself into the right mindset. If you’re an executive of a company, do your upmost to not to take it personally. You’re the custodian of the organisation, and while it feels as attached to you as your internal organs are- it’s not. Both of you will likely still keep breathing if you were to seperate. Oh and breathe, deeply, and remember to feel grateful for the smallest of things. I know I bang on about it a bit, but there’s also some pretty hefty science about it too. Gratitude Changes Your Brain and is Good for Business and Harvard’ s Giving Thanks Can make You Happier are great articles to take a look at it if you like a serving of Science with your Art.
- Try to clear your brain of the persistent white noise that traps you into living in a future that has not yet come and a past that is littered with roadkill. Meditate, exercise, do yoga, dance, sing in the shower. Do things that make you feel fully present and that dull the persistent anxiety, and do them regularly.
- If you’re a board member, your executive needs your support and loyalty. Your championing, coaching, connecting and fundraising super powers need to come into force. Your engagement is vital. Now is the time to step up and really listen to your executive and understand deeply the environment you’re working in. If you have to make hard decisions (and many may need to) try to do so with the respect that reflects the hard work, dedication and smarts your organisational leaders and teams have committed over their tenure.
- Open up the conversation with potential collaborators early. Go on a couple of small, low risk dates doing something you both enjoy, like venue sharing or co-marketing. Don’t be scrabbling to forge a make or break partnership at the last minute with someone you don’t know that well. It could end in a messy divorce.
- Enlist some help. You really don’t win a prize for doing it all on your own. For a good deal of my 30’s I truly believed that there was indeed a prize (well at least a badge), and I can assure you it’s a myth. As a leader, much of your time can be spent absorbed with the day to day running of an organisation. You can benefit immensely from someone else probing gently into the centre, to unlock new ideas and new ways of doing things. This can be a consultant, a mentor or a professional qualified coach. Sometimes it’s just listening to a podcast each week. Simply listening and connecting with solutions from a different industry, with similar values, can unlock a new path forward. I gain great inspiration and deep thought from stories of the journey of animal charities, neighbourhood houses and food/agribusiness who are doing things differently. For you it might be fashion, film or travel industries. If you have any podcast gems you’d like to share, please message me!
Plan B isn’t all about cut backs, although most likely it involve them, it’s also about the possibilities of doing things a different way. The little and slightly crankier cousin of Plan A can also be the the one that unlocks an even better way of doing things.
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