Daily Update: The Watts Symposium – A follow-up

Penned by Ronan McDonald. Monday’s symposium on philanthropy and the arts, held at the Watts Gallery, attracted a range of voices from across the charity and cultural sectors. As previewed here yesterday, Cause4 Director Michelle Wright contributed to the lively debate about the nature of philanthropic work in the arts.


A Caricature of George Frederic Watts as an Epsom Beggar by Mary Watts

A thought-provoking theme of Michelle’s talk was that charities need to co-operate and collaborate if they and the sector are to thrive. The need for similar charities to build programmes together was directly stated:

“There are 161,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission:  of these tens of thousands operate within the same sector. Duplication is rife causing confusion and compromising distinctiveness.”

Some exciting solutions to this problem were on offer:

 “Think partner, not funder: find ways of aligning the expectations of your funders with your own ambitions.”

The message for arts organisations is clear: there is a need for a change in culture, away from rivalries and proprietorialism, towards collaboration and innovation. Can this change of culture happen? Can each charity find its own distinct role in a more closely inter-connected arts sector, or will some lose out? Let us know your views here – and if you were at yesterday’s symposium, this is the place to share what you thought of the discussion!


1 Reply

One response to “Daily Update: The Watts Symposium – A follow-up

  1. Brian

    I wasn’t at your symposium yesterday but the change of culture you describe, away from away from rivalries and proprietorialism, towards collaboration and innovation needs to be engendered from the top down within our arts establishment. It feels like that’s been evident for years now. Chief execs and managing directors need to be much more open to sector wide collaboration and empower their teams to seek out interesting partnerships and collaborations. Conservatism and rivalry still seems to be rife – is this because of an absence of useful models, methodologies or forums that support sector-wide collaborations or partnerships? Is this because of perceived threats to brand or identity (where’s the evidence?)? Is this because of concerns – real or otherwise – about support for funding (and wouldn’t a sector wide voice to Government to counteract that and lobby for change be something?)? Or is it just simply that we need our Arts leaders to lead? It has to start somewhere.

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