Sharing Together: Charitable Trusts Peer Network for the Arts in Wales

Published on: November 9th 2020

We are delighted to announce we will be facilitating a new network for charitable trusts in Wales to discuss, share, and collaborate on their arts work. We are excited and grateful to have received funding from the Arts Council of Wales for this important project.

For more information on this project, please contact us. To register attendance at the re-engagement session on December 7th, please register here.

Project Background

On the 23rd of January 2020, Community Leisure UK (CL-UK) organised a seminar that gave a platform to Welsh charitable trusts to discuss their work, share best practice and discuss challenges regarding the development and delivery of public arts and cultural services and the management of arts/cultural facilities. The common denominator for this seminar’s participants therefore was the unique business model of the organisations; being a charity or social enterprise that manages arts and culture for their community, reinvesting profits back into the organisation to increase access and deliver quality services i.e. organisations that are commonly referred to as Culture Trusts.

The day itself led to insightful discussions on the role of arts and culture in communities and in reference to the Journey to A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language, the positive impact of arts and cultural activity on health and wellbeing, adopting digital technology, and creating sustainable business models looking at financial sustainability. A summary of the day’s discussion is enclosed to this project proposal for reference.

The discussions were incredibly valuable for participants as there was a real opportunity to make themselves heard, discuss their business models, challenges to the sector, and to exchange best practice on reaching and developing diverse audiences. Some of the feedback from the post-event evaluation form demonstrated this:

“Have not talked to people in a similar position to myself for probably five years. Much has changed.”

“[I liked] The informal setting. The opportunity to have discussions around the topic areas.”

Participants concluded that there is a need for forums like this seminar to talk about the impact of arts/culture, to raise awareness of what good work is being done, and to bring people from across sectors together to recognise the potential of arts and cultural activity.

With this new funding, we can build on the great work started in January by launching a new informal networking group for charitable trusts delivering and managing arts programmes in Wales. This network is open for all interested arts charities and social enterprises in Wales.

Project goal and objectives

The objective is to establish an organised, though informal, network that shares best practice, works collaboratively, supports one another, and engages partners to raise awareness of the wider benefits of artistic and cultural activity. With funding until the end of March 2021, the next few months will see the following actions to get the network up and running:

  1. A re-engagement session on 7 December 2020 for all who registered in January and for the wider culture trust sector. This session will discuss expectations, needs and future organisation of the group;
  2. Establishing an online forum after the re-engagement session so participants of the network have an informal way of connecting with each other and can easily share updates, pose questions, share resources, and discuss ideas;
  3. A virtual seminar in late February / early March 2021. The virtual seminar will invite two guest speakers to discuss the future of the arts sector, and will include opportunities for network participants to discuss collaborative working, the role of charitable trusts, and culture trusts’ position in the community to increase arts participation and contribute to health and wellbeing objectives.

Network participants will benefit from:

  • Having a peer support network amongst Welsh culture trusts, with a safe and supportive space for charitable trusts to work collaboratively and share their learning on managing their portfolio of services and facilities;
  • Having a safe space to discuss demographic reach and audience data and insights, and to share learning on reaching currently excluded groups;
  • Exploring relevant thematic matters and arrangements that will support trusts to effectively manage public arts services, and for their work to be inclusive of, and accessible to their local communities so as to increase arts participation;
  • Closer collaborative working between organisations that engage in the network, with the potential to discuss mergers through centralised CRM systems and shared Box Office functions to enable more sustainable delivery models for public arts services;
  • Support of personal and professional development of individual participants;
  • Having this network as a horizon scanner in relation to opportunities, risks and trends of the public arts landscape in Wales, and to learn from developments in England and Scotland through learnings shared from the wider network of CL-UK.

Sessions will be virtual to respect Covid-19 regulations, and to make the network more accessible. This network is open to all independent charities and social enterprises managing arts services and facilities, taking a wide interpretation of the arts, including, but not limited to theatres, performance venues, and participatory arts activities organised from these and other multi-purpose venues across Wales.