Investing in change – developing innovative new business models

Investing in change – developing innovative new business models

By Michelle Wright


In this article, Michelle Wright discusses the need for arts organisations to be more innovative in their fundraising by adapting their business model to generate more commercial income.

A funding system that protects the status quo is preventing arts organisations from developing innovative new business models that are less dependent on the public purse, argues Michelle Wright.

As the news of Arts Council England's investment package for 2015-18 settles in and we breath a sigh of relief that the news is not too bad, I'm left wondering is it really a good thing that there were no real surprises?

Much of the media's attention has been focused on English National Opera's (ENO) 27% cut, citing the organisation as the 'biggest loser'. But, for me, ENO has emerged as the true entrepreneur and creative thinker of the settlement.

In my work for the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme, looking at innovation in fundraising with arts organisations across the country, I've had plenty of time to reflect on what we really mean by enterprise in income generation and where this sits within our funding ecology.

Knowing that ENO was facing a £5m annual cut, it has come out fighting with a new business model that achieves less reliance on the Arts Council by generating more commercial income. Good on ENO for innovating and seeking to protect its artistic integrity, rather than rolling over and accepting a cut that would result in decreased artistic activity.

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Resource type: | Published: 2014