Funding Advice Seminar Review

After several months of organisation and liaison, we were pleased to be able to facilitate a funding advice seminar on Wednesday 6th February.

Stuart Young introduced the Sheffield Brass Network (SBN) event and thanked Chris Palmer and Sam Craggs of SoundBytes Media for hosting it at The Foundry Studio in Sheffield.

Presentations followed by Richard Brown of Arts Council England, Peter Foyle of the South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau (SYFAB), and Rachel Veitch-Straw of Key Fund, with over 30 attendees present from all corners of the Sheffield City Region and beyond, including Lincolnshire, North Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and Chesterfield. Ensembles other than brass bands had been invited to take part in the event and we were pleased to welcome representatives from local choirs and orchestra.

Rachel Veitch-Straw from Key Fund opened the presentations and described how they provide flexible loans and blended finance (grant/loan packages) to help community and social enterprises to start-up, become sustainable and to grow, with sums from £5,000 up to £300,000. Rachel further explained that “It’s not just about the money. It’s also about providing the right kind of support to help our investees have the best possible chance of success”. Rachel said that Key Fund are keen to talk to organisations that are Incorporated (a registered company) with a clear social mission, based in the Midlands or North of England with 3 or more directors, financial processes and projections, and a business plan. Rachel also urged attendees to investigate the following websites; The Reach Fund, Good Finance and the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

In the next presentation Peter Foyle from the South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau (SYFAB) described that their organisation helps to find funding for music groups and the associated support available. Peter said that organisations should decide what they want to fund, work out the costs, and answer the key question; “what difference will you make”, as it will determine which funders to approach, and how to present your case. Arts funders are looking for quality music—community funders want to bring people together—and health funders seek to improve well-being. SYFAB has a searchable database of about 200 funders, local and national, which you can search by activity, amount and costs. Funders are keen to know that: your group is well run and your finances are in order, plans and costs are accurate and reasonable, you are responding to a clear need, that you meet one or more of their priorities and that your activities are accessible and they reflect the community’s diversity. Non-South Yorkshire groups can register with SYFAB for £25/year.

Richard Brown of Arts Council England presented the final part of the funding seminar and opened by quoting their mission statement; “Great art and culture for everyone”. Arts Council England support Dance, Literature, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and Combined Arts (which also includes festivals and carnivals). The projects that they fund MUST reach people in England, either in the short term or the long term. Arts Council England support things like: “Gigs and concerts, plays, exhibitions, residencies, research and development, workshops, building work, tours, online work, book writing, creative podcasts. The list is endless!” Richard went on to briefly describe the application process and outlined their 4 main criteria: Quality, Public engagement, Finance and Management. “The more money you ask for, the more questions we’ll ask”. Richard’s ‘top tip’ is to use the Arts Council England ‘How to’ guidance on the website which goes through the application form step by step, and to “break down numbers in budgets as much as possible and show your working. Include a lot of detail in the project plan. Poor planning is no plan at all”.

Alex Parker, Relationship and Partnership Development Manager from Brass Bands England (BBE), was also present at the event and added that BBE member bands can take advantage of the opportunity to have 1:1 funding advice and support, such as with bid-writing etc.

Before the event dispersed into individual conversations with the funding representatives, Stuart Young from the SBN summed up the event and observed that ‘quality’ appeared to be the watch word for the evening; quality in results as well as in planning. Stuart thanked the 30 plus attendees for their attentiveness and further stated that if anyone had any other subjects that they think the SBN can help with, or assist to facilitate, to please let him know.