Official Report (Hansard)
Date: 02 April 2009
Inquiry into the Funding of the Arts in Northern Ireland
2 April 2009
Members present for all or part of the proceedings:
Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley
Mr Francie Brolly
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Mr Nelson McCausland
Mr Pat Ramsey
Mr Jim Shannon
Ms Joanne South )
Ms Mary Trainor ) Arts and Business Northern Ireland
Ms Lesley Wake )
The Chairperson (Mr McElduff):
I welcome Mary Trainor, Lesley Wake and Joanne South from Arts and Business, who will make a presentation to the Committee.
Ms Mary Trainor (Arts and Business Northern Ireland):
Arts and Business welcomes the opportunity to give the Committee an oral submission; thank you very much for calling us. My colleagues from our head office in London are Lesley Wake, who is our director of operations, and Joanne South, our research manager. I have been the director at Arts and Business for 10 months. Prior to that, I worked for over 13 years in Northern Ireland, marketing and fund-raising for many of Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural organisations, including the Ulster Orchestra, the Lyric Theatre, the Grand Opera House and the Belfast Civic Arts Theatre.
Arts and Business is a UK-wide creative network that advocates and facilitates creative partnerships between the private and cultural sectors. It was established 30 years ago and has 11 offices across the UK. Our Northern Ireland office opened in 1987. Prior to April 2008, we were part-funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and now we are part-funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It is worth noting that our remit covers the performing arts, literature, visual arts and crafts, museums, libraries, heritage and film. In Northern Ireland, we have 80 arts members and 83 business members.
Arts and Business defines private investment as business sponsorship, individual giving, and trusts and foundations. We advocate on behalf of the arts sector to the business community, and we work to increase skills and confidence within the sector by our various training and support programmes, which include support on sponsorship training, individual giving, and strengthening good governance and fund-raising principles on the boards of cultural organisations. With regard to your inquiry, our written submission focused on our area of expertise, which is primarily your second term of reference, which looks at innovative approaches to sourcing additional funding.
Funding for the arts comes from a mixture of private and public sources. Each year the Arts and Business private investment in culture survey measures private investment in the arts and culture sector in the UK; it covers museums and heritage as well as arts. According to respondents from our 2007-08 survey, which covers the period March 2007 to April 2008, private-sector investment accounted for an average of 13% of arts organisations’ total income — in Northern Ireland, that figure was 10∙9%.
Across the UK, private investment in culture is at its highest, climbing by 12% on the 2006-07 figure to £686 million. In Northern Ireland, it increased by 3% to £8∙53 million, which is 1∙2% of the UK figure. An increase in Northern Ireland’s private investment support is positive as, in many regions, support declined. In Scotland, it declined by 9∙4%. However, it is worth noting that the increase in Northern Ireland can be attributed to a few organisations receiving substantial donations against capital campaigns, and that private investment figures fluctuate, depending on cycles linked to project timelines.
Results show that private business investment, within the overall figure, has declined across the UK. It has declined by 7% since 2006-07; in Northern Ireland it has declined by 8∙9%. In Northern Ireland, business investment equates to a higher percentage of the total private investment. For example, in Northern Ireland, support is 47% of total private investment from businesses, but in the UK it is 24%. That highlights the fact that in Northern Ireland, support from individual giving and trusts and foundations is lower than in other regions. Across the UK, individual giving accounts for 56% of total private investment, but in Northern Ireland it is 26%.
It is worth praising the creativity and success shown in the culture sector in Northern Ireland in sourcing business sponsorship. It is also worth highlighting that that comes despite the limited number of full-time fund-raisers. Less than 5% of our arts members have dedicated full-time fund-raising staff. Typically, in Northern Ireland, most fund-raisers in arts organisations are also responsible for marketing.
The partnerships funded last year through the Arts and Business reach investment programme are excellent examples of how the arts sector is engaging, retaining and developing current and new sponsors in a creative way. Arts and Business funded 50 projects last year through its investment programme, making a total investment of £209,000, against a business sponsorship figure of £960,000. That is leveraging £5 for every £1 that we have supported through that programme.
That said, the economic climate is obviously presenting the culture sector with immense challenges. Certainly, the sector cannot remain immune to a global recession. Our research has indicated that business investment will continue to decrease in 2009, and will decrease further in 2010. However, as GDP increases, the confidence in investment will return. With a reduction in private giving imminent, Arts and Business will be working with the sector to improve its skills in seeking sponsorship, to encourage it to maintain long-term relationships with its donors, sponsors and audiences, and to cultivate potential future investors. Really, the sector must work to be in a position of strength for when the turmoil subsides.
Our message to the sector is to hold its nerve during the economic downturn, and to tap into resources beyond the cheque. For example, in Northern Ireland, around 10% of support from the business community is in kind. The arts sector must provide the business sector with a tangible return on investment, and must promote the message that the arts can offer creative ways to address business objectives. Now, more than ever, is the time to be creative and innovative.
It is not all doom and gloom with regard to business investment in Northern Ireland. Many businesses are signing up to new sponsorships and seeing the real business benefits in supporting the arts. Regardless of the cultural climate, we have to equip the arts sector with the confidence and skills to build long-term relationships. It takes two years for those types of partnerships to fully prosper. We need to redefine the expertise in the sector and ensure that there is the knowledge and market analysis to maximise opportunities.
There is, undoubtedly, room for increasing the level of philanthropic support for the arts in Northern Ireland. As I mentioned, across the UK, investment from individuals accounts for 56% of total investment. In Northern Ireland, it is 26%. In every other region, investment from individuals is increasing; however, we are not quite at that level. High-net-worth individuals are willing to fund the arts; however, they are not doing so to the same level as other sectors. A Venture Philanthropy report, looking at philanthropy and the arts, concluded that individual giving is a very personal and private issue in Northern Ireland. It is very much about personal relationships: people give to things and people that they know.
Last September, our arts sector consultation identified a skills gap in the sector and a lack of confidence as to how to ask for investment, and ask in the right way without alienating audiences. The Venture Philanthropy report noted that potential donors look to the strength of governance and business planning within arts organisations. The profile of the need for arts philanthropy must be raised. Last year, Arts and Business initiated the Prince of Wales medals for arts philanthropy. We were delighted that Dr Martin Naughton, an arts philanthropist from Ireland, made a £1 million donation to the Lyric Theatre and has supported the Naughton Gallery. It was great to acknowledge him in that way. Those initiatives are crucial in encouraging philanthropy to the arts, and the Government and the media have a role to play in helping to promote them.
It is important to note that philanthropy is not just about large donations from wealthy individuals. There is a lot to be gained from engaging support from audiences at a mid to low level. Audiences have an emotional attachment to the arts and the sector is very well placed to capitalise on that. Art and Business will be working with the sector in Northern Ireland to increase that engagement and to assist it in building the necessary skills and confidence. The current economic climate is likely to have an affect on philanthropic giving. However, now is an ideal time to work on increasing the skills of arts organisations and for them to work on cultivating and building long-term relationships.
In Northern Ireland, there is potential for extra income from gift aid; many opportunities for gift aid go unclaimed. We will be working to help promote that in the sector. As I said, there is definitely an opportunity around trusts and foundations. The key factor in that regard is the lack of staff in Northern Ireland and the lack of time. It takes time to research trust and foundation applications; however, the rewards can be very high. Again, we will be running information sessions for the sector on that.
Another core element of our work, and an important factor in increasing income from private investment, is the role of cultural boards and strong governance. Arts organisations are businesses, and therefore need sound business principles and strategies. Arts and Business will be working in strategic partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to strengthen governance and business planning on the boards of arts organisations.
A successful fund-raising strategy requires buy-in and commitment, from the top of an organisation down. Potential investors like to see public investment in an organisation. One of the programmes that we run to help with governance is a board development day, in which we bring in a business facilitator to help with business planning. We also help to place businesspeople on cultural arts boards.
Given its limited resources, development staff and skills, the Northern Ireland arts sector is working hard to engage the business community. There are many success stories and examples. There is potential for growth — particularly in the areas of individual giving and trusts. The sector needs more resources, development staff, training and time. There are no quick wins in professional fund-raising. Organisations need to buy in from the top down, and there needs to be a hybrid of public and private investment; business donors look for that.
Of course, the difficult economic climate presents challenges. However, the arts can offer huge business benefits at this time. In tough times, survival comes from innovation and creativity. Business wants innovation and creativity, which the arts can unlock and deliver. Now is the time to advocate, train and create skills in the sector and to cultivate and build relationships with current and future sponsors and donors. Through our advocacy, training and support programmes, our market analysis and best-practice models, Arts and Business will continue to be the engine that drives progress.
You said that you have 11 offices throughout the UK and, therefore, a lot of experience in attracting support from the business community. Compared with other regions of the UK, what specific challenges do Northern Irish arts organisations face?
I am a great believer that the arts sector should pursue more funding from private sources, and I am pleased that your organisation does that. I know that 60% of arts funding comes from the public purse and approximately 10% from private sources. However, your submission outlines that individual giving in Northern Ireland accounts for only 26% of the total funding, whereas it accounts for about 56% — more than double — in the rest of the United Kingdom. Why is individual giving so much lower in Northern Ireland? Are you doing anything to address that situation?
As Lord Browne said, the challenge for Northern Ireland centres around the giving of individuals, trusts and foundations. There is much more potential. However, given that there are no full-time development staff, it is a resource issue. It takes time to cultivate and service sponsor relationships with the business community. I have worked at the coalface doing those jobs, and in marketing, and I know that time is the major factor. Many arts organisations recognise the huge potential but are frustrated that they cannot capitalise on it because of time and resource restrictions. That is a key issue.
More hard work is needed.
Absolutely, but additional staff are required, too. In England, many arts organisations have dedicated development functions. However, less than 5% of our arts organisations have dedicated fund-raisers. That is a massive problem.
Lord Browne asked what Arts and Business is doing to increase individual giving. The consultation that we conducted with the whole arts sector in September 2008 highlighted a lack of confidence, training and skills. Many organisations are nervous about alienating their audiences by asking for money. Our first step must be to establish training programmes. We ran a programme a couple of weeks ago in Northern Ireland; we brought in somebody from a trust and foundation to talk to the arts community. We hope to organise more dedicated individual-giving training programmes.
In the next couple of months, the UK website will be relaunched; it will include a full fund-raiser’s toolkit and a facility to blog, sharing information and ideas with other fund-raisers. Those facilities will help fund-raisers and give them confidence.
Do you think that because the arts receive 60% of their funding from the public purse, they are a little bit complacent about seeking money from other sources?
I absolutely do not. Having worked for many Northern Ireland arts organisations, I can assure you that they proactively seek such funding, and that is why I emphasised business relationships. We will leave a list of all the projects that we have funded through our investment programmes. Some of those projects demonstrate real creativity, including fabulous examples of how people are thinking out of the box in order to engage businesses.
Ms Lesley Wake (Arts and Business Northern Ireland):
Private investment income for the arts in Northern Ireland stands at £4·83 per capita. In similar regions in England, for example, in the east, the per-capita figure is £2·36; in the south-west, it is £2·56; and in Yorkshire, it is £2·92. Therefore, the picture in some parts of England is not as rosy as it might seem — more than 80%, the lion’s share, of the UK total for individual giving comes from London-based national institutions. Therefore, when comparing regions with Northern Ireland, we find a strong correlation.
Mr P Ramsey:
The presentation was very good; it will help considerably with our inquiry. For the record, the Millennium Forum, in which I have already declared an interest, could not survive without commercial sponsorship, particularly the deal with Firmus Energy, which has been tremendously successful in encouraging young people who would not normally have the opportunity to access and participate in the arts.
What types of arts organisations in Northern Ireland have been most successful in obtaining private-sector funding, and to what can you attribute that success? How can other community-based arts organisations best access those opportunities?
Although Northern Ireland people might be behind in individual giving to the arts, they are very much ahead when it comes to charitable giving. People in Northern Ireland give a lot more per capita than many other parts of the United Kingdom. Perhaps, when it comes to personal giving, people’s focus is on charity. However, you are considering how big business can contribute, and I must say that I am impressed by the level of contact that there is and by the amount of money given.
In your submission, you mentioned that you are seeking more evidence-based research into the social and economic impact of the arts. The real reason why businesses give to the arts is not to target social need or to meet an economic strategy, but to satisfy an individual or corporate interest. Is that not so?
It is a fair point that people in Northern Ireland give more to the charitable sector, which indicates that the potential for individual giving exists here and that we in the arts might not be making the case for the need for and benefits of arts philanthropy as well as we could.
With respect to why the business community gives money, it certainly looks for a return on its investment. In addition, the public-relations impact and press coverage of arts sponsorship is important to demonstrate a business’s corporate social responsibility. Arts and Business is working to help arts organisations and businesses to evaluate their sponsorship arrangements and to make that case.
However, if there is more evidence to back up the fact that the arts have those social and economic impacts, it may inspire philanthropy from the public. From a business point of view, the main issue is very much business benefit, and many businesses are seeing that. It is quite encouraging that, in the last month, several businesses have signed up to some very high-profile new sponsorships. For example, BT has just agreed to a £35,000 sponsorship with Queen’s Film Theatre, and it is also providing £35,000 of in-kind support for a marketing audit and a whole new marketing strategy. That is a new sponsorship.
I had a meeting last week with representatives from Barclays Bank, who said that their company was a confident brand and would be keeping its head above the parapet to remain high profile. Such companies are seeing the business benefits of engaging with the arts. Representatives from one bank told me that they needed to know how to make their company look human again. They know that the arts can help to do that, and staff morale was extremely low. We are working on some ideas on that.
Those are examples of businesses that are seeing the business benefit of involvement with the arts. Having evidence of the impact of involvement with the arts would help arts organisations to gain a mixture of funding.
You are saying that the two issues should be married. The interest of individual businesses is what drives sponsorship of the arts, and it is important to try to tie that in with targeting social need.
If you can do that, you are on to a winner.
Mr Ramsey asked what types of arts organisations in Northern Ireland are being funded. Fifty per cent of business support in Northern Ireland is linked to theatre and 12% is linked to music, which is indicative of a number of things. The theatre sector and particularly the music sector, such as the Ulster Orchestra and some of the bigger theatres like the Grand Opera House, are working hard, are making the case, perhaps have more staff than other sectors — although not that many more — and have a very focused approach to fund-raising.
Another key factor is that businesses like to sponsor populist art forms. One of the challenges that I faced in fund-raising in the theatre sector was that businesses wanted to sponsor pantomimes and popular musicals. That is largely because of corporate entertaining; companies want to bring customers to an event and make sure that they know the product and do not feel alienated. So, much sponsorship goes to very popular art forms, which presents a challenge when you are trying to get sponsorship for drama and unknown art forms.
At the minute, there is a slight problem for a lot of the arts organisations, because a lot of businesses do not want to be seen to be corporate entertaining, particularly if they are making staff redundant. Businesses are pulling back on corporate entertaining at rugby matches and other sporting events and are increasingly turning to the corporate social responsibility agenda. Therefore, it is up to the arts to be creative about how they pitch their proposals with that in mind.
The marketplace is also important. The heritage and museum sector is top of the list for sponsorship in the UK, but that includes a lot of the big sponsorships for the London museums and galleries, which skew the figures. Therefore, we really have to look at our marketplace to find the opportunities for the business sector at the minute.
Does that mean doom and gloom for community groups? Absolutely not. A lot of our sponsorship mix comes from across Northern Ireland. The Alley arts and conference centre in Strabane won our arts award this year, because it is doing amazingly creative things with some of its business partners. For example, REMAX estate agents brought in a photographer to help sell its houses in a more creative way. The company also brought in a scriptwriter to help with sales pitches, so it was using the arts really creatively. We also worked with Craft Recruitment, which trains joiners. Staff from Craft Recruitment helped to build the set for the Alley centre’s pantomime.
There is a lot of potential — particularly in community areas — to engage with communities and businesses in those regions. With the right skills, training and resources, arts organisations and community organisations can still get a return.
I ask members to be brief. There are five more questions, and about five more minutes have been allocated. We will obviously have to go over that.
I have a couple of brief questions about the reach investment programme. Is the money an agreement between the sponsor and the arts facility, or is it allocated centrally?
Our budget is provided by the Arts Council. We get £455,000, of which £230,000 goes back out through that programme. We promote and explain the open-application process to our arts members because the rationale behind that funding is to strengthen partnerships and to deepen and embed relationships. The arts organisations and the businesses jointly complete the applications. Sometimes we hold meetings to inspire ideas and to help forge relationships. Those applications then come to an Arts and Business panel and we make judgements on them. We use a set of criteria to ensure that the applications address what we need them to.
We try to have a regional spread in relation to the way that we allocate the money. Part of our internal target is to try and encourage applications from outside Belfast and to encourage projects that are about diversity and other issues.
Is there difficulty in the regional spread —
Raymond, I ask you to put your question in such a way that Nelson can group his with yours. You have a unique, innovative style.
I noticed that there were four applications from Derry. Is there a particular reason for that?
What do arts organisations pay for membership?
They pay £70.
No matter what size of an organisation they are?
If they want about five members of their staff to benefit from our programmes, the fee is £90. I think that about 80% of our members pay £70.
A lot of businesses here are local branches of national businesses, which may keep their budget for sponsorship more centralised. Sometimes they argue that they have no money locally because their budget is decided in an office in London. Is that an issue that only affects Northern Ireland, or does it affect other regions? How much substance is there to that?
I certainly think that the spread of budgets is a factor. Perhaps my colleagues can speak on behalf of the UK. I do not think that it completely inhibits sponsorship — there is still a lot of potential with the right resources, but it is certainly an issue. More recently, we have noticed that budgets for Northern Ireland have moved to Dublin. Many of the banks, such as Ulster Bank, are trying to mirror what they do in the North with what they do in the South. Some of the drinks companies did exactly the same. There is an element of both, and it is probably the same in every region.
It is an issue. It is something that we seek to manage. While the decisions may be taken in London, the negotiations often happen here in Northern Ireland. PricewaterhouseCoopers is a national member of Arts and Business, but Ms Trainor and her team in Belfast negotiate the PricewaterhouseCoopers Northern Ireland budget. It is paid from London, but the decision-making is done here. We encourage our national members to work across all parts of the UK. It is the same in Scotland. Invariably, it is different when the headquarters of a business is in another part of the UK, but we encourage the adoption of the same method.
We made a point of going up to Derry as part of our arts consultation. There was a really high turnout there, and about 10 arts organisations came to meet us. We were working proactively to help the sector in the Derry area, and our arts manager has dedicated a lot of time to that region. It is a matter of our being proactive, going out and focusing on particular regions.
I congratulate you on the work that you do; I can see that it makes a good contribution. Do you expect any withdrawals from sponsorship programmes due to financial problems? Have you received any feedback or assessed the effect that the recession may have on your sponsors? Only one major supermarket is on your list of business partners, and, indeed, its involvement is minimal. Why are the other major supermarkets not engaged in Northern Ireland?
I want to know more about the mechanics of your operation. Where does the process start? Do arts organisations, such as the Alley Theatre in Strabane, come and ask you to secure funding from the private sector? How exactly does it work? It is your organisation that pays the piper; what influence do you have on the operation of the Arts Council?
The primary example of withdrawal of sponsorship concerns the Ulster Orchestra. The orchestra has been badly hit because a lot of its sponsorship was linked to financial services and banking. Indeed, Ulster Bank has pulled almost £55,000 worth of sponsorship from the orchestra. I appreciate the impact that that will have, because I was the head of marketing with the Ulster Orchestra. Ulster Bank has retained its substantial sponsorship of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, but it has had to refocus its budget. Unfortunately, a lot of the orchestra’s sponsorship involved corporate entertainment at concerts, and Ulster Bank has also had to pull back from much of its rugby sponsorship.
Mr McNarry also asked about the effect of the recession. There are still a lot of good news stories, and we are really encouraged that several businesses have signed up. BT and Barclays Bank are continuing with their sponsorship, Carson McDowell has just renewed high-level sponsorship of the Art College’s end-of-year show, and Allianz has also renewed high-level sponsorship recently. The business sector is making its budgets work harder, being a lot more focused and moving away from corporate entertaining. Some people, therefore, are going to take a hit. However, there are still opportunities, and we are advocating the message that people have to be more innovative in order to stand out from their competitors; the arts can help that.
Ms Joanne South (Arts and Business Northern Ireland):
We have had conversations with businesses across the UK about their confidence in, and attitudes to, investing in the arts. They have clearly said that, over the next two years or so, it will be tough to find the budgets required for cash sponsorship. Obviously, that will have an impact on many organisations. However, on the flip side, a number of organisations are telling us how important marketing and branding are at the current time and that they will continue to invest in that.
The cash sums involved may not be as huge as they were previously. However, there is still money out there, and people are as keen to achieve their objectives as they were before. In-kind sponsorship is also going to be very important as purse strings tighten. Indeed, in-kind sponsorship has slightly increased this year across the UK. That is a potential growth area, particularly over the next 24 months. It is a resource that people have and are prepared to give.
Mr McNarry made a good point about supermarkets; the only supermarket that I know to be engaged with the arts in Northern Ireland is Tesco.
I am not allowed to advertise here. [Laughter.]
Rather than having an arts strategy, Tesco focuses on music and education. It sponsors the orchestra’s — [Interruption.]
Jim is phoning Sainsbury’s.
Tesco sponsors the orchestra’s education programme and Camerata Ireland’s young musicians’ programme. We will have to do our bit to rally support from supermarkets.
Supermarkets across these islands present a challenge; their profit margins are screwed so far down because of their competition. The unnamed supermarket that Ms Trainor mentioned a moment ago does not sponsor anything at all in England, so Northern Ireland is lucky. Well done.
If they do not have the cash, could they perhaps be encouraged to do something in kind?
Absolutely; Ms South talked about in-kind support and cited BT as an example. The Ulster Bank also gives massive in-kind marketing support to the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. We will follow up on that form of sponsorship.
Mr Brolly asked about where we start and the mechanics of how we operate. Our work is divided into three core areas, the first of which is capacity-building, which involves training. The second area is advocacy, which involves going out to the business community. We do a lot of work with the Institute of Directors and the chambers of commerce. We try to spread the word about advocacy, and we encourage the sharing of best practice in business publications. The final part of our work is trying to find ways to bring arts and business together. Our investment programme is a good example of how we, as the organisation in the middle, try to connect the two. We also run many events for businesses, and I am keen to hold more events this year at which arts people get to meet and connect with businesspeople, which is a bit like speed dating.
In trying to help the arts, our starting point is training. We have an arts development forum that enables all our arts members to get together several times a year at information sessions and seminars. Our arts manager also goes out to meet members on a one-to-one basis. By joining the forum, they get access to us whenever necessary. We go out and sit down with them, look at their sponsorship challenges and opportunities, and help them to pull together proposals. It is a matter of engaging with all our members.
I mentioned the importance of strong governance and business planning, and we have an extremely positive relationship with the strategic planning and business development teams of the Arts Council. We work on a menu of support through the board development days that I mentioned. We bring in a businessperson to sit down with a full arts board and help them with strategic planning and writing a fundraising strategy. We also try to persuade businesspeople to sit on arts boards. We work particularly closely with the Arts Council on that, and it also supports us on the individual giving programme. The massive skills gap means that we need more investment to provide more training.
Fundamentally, do you fail or succeed depending on how much money you can wheedle from business?
That is a tricky question because we are market-makers rather than fund-raisers. We measure our impact —
You have meetings with corporate business, and the idea is to soften them up.
That is absolutely right.
Unlike a small independent arts organisation, we can get to the chairmen and chief executives of the major businesses.
Do you ask for funding, or do you direct an area of the arts towards potential funders?
A bit of both, actually. I will give you a really good example; yesterday we had a meeting with Translink, which is facing a lot of challenging business issues at the moment in relation to bullying on trains and school buses, and is producing a whole new business strategy. The company requested a meeting with our organisation to get our advice on how the arts can fit into its strategy and how the arts can help it. Because we are in tune with the menu of availability from the arts sector, we can help to connect the company. That is what we will be doing.
Mr D Bradley:
I apologise for being late. What action have you taken to make your organisation known outside Belfast, particularly among amateur groups? It seems that you mainly engage with professional or semi-professional groups, with some exceptions. Will you also outline some examples of in-kind sponsorship?
I mentioned earlier that we made a point of taking the arts consultation outside Belfast. We spoke to arts organisations in Derry and invited them all to come along to that session. Our relationship with the Arts Council may help with that, because it has connections with the full spectrum of arts organisations. We are being careful to include heritage and museums in that consultation as well, through working with some of the umbrella groups like the Museums Council. I have been to a few meetings there, and sit on its marketing advisory committee at the moment. We want to spread those tentacles in whatever way we can. Those are the main ways that we are doing so at the moment.
There is life outside Belfast and Derry as well.
Mr D Bradley:
Do you intend to visit Omagh?
That is the first mistake you have made all morning. [Laughter.]
You urban person.
Mr D Bradley:
Seriously, has your organisation planned to make itself known in places like Omagh, Armagh, Newry, and so on?
Newtownards, Ballywalter —
Our organisation’s arts membership list of 80 is well spread across all regions in Northern Ireland. I can forward a breakdown of how the membership is split to the Committee. A lot of those areas are very well covered. The challenge for us is to get the arts organisations that are currently members to help spread the word in those communities. We can use our arts membership as ambassadors for the organisation. We need to make that work harder for us.
Will you provide some examples of in-kind sponsorship for Dominic?
We spoke about the in-kind sponsorship from Ulster Bank, and BT has provided full marketing support and rebranding.
Mr D Bradley:
Does that mean that BT staff will be working on behalf of the arts organisation?
Yes. A lot of arts organisations currently receive in-kind sponsorship for events from drink sponsors. A big area of sponsorship is print and design, because there are high costs in printing. A lot of arts organisations receive print sponsorship, which can be very valuable to them if they have limited marketing budgets.
A lot of business expertise is brought into arts organisations by introducing businesspeople to the boards as mentors and advisers of those organisations. If they were paying consultancy fees, that would cost thousands of pounds, but we negotiate that free of charge.
When did you say you were opening an office in Newtownards?
I commend you on the success of your Allianz Arts and Business awards evening in the Reform Club in Belfast. I was pleased to be able to attend and witness what you do. There is no sign of Wendy today.
She is tied up with her media commitments.
Thank you for coming along this morning.
Thank you for inviting us, and thank you for attending the awards ceremony, Chairman.