Knowledge Centre Blog

Fundraising Fellowship Ireland – Year 1 Thoughts From Gill Fenton, Marketing Development Manager, Lime Tree Theatre | Belltable

Catherine Hearne

It’s hard to believe I began my Fellowship journey with Business to Arts a year ago. Due to Covid-19 it has been an incredibly challenging year for the Lime Tree Theatre | Belltable and the arts sector as a whole. The focus and structure around the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme has been a real bonus for me personally but also enormously beneficial for our organisation.

Having worked for the Lime Tree Theatre | Belltable since the official opening in 2012, the move to Marketing & Development Manager was a great opportunity, while at the same time a rather daunting prospect. Myself and the Director of the Lime Tree Theatre | Belltable, Louise Donlon, decided initially to use this opportunity to take stock, to take the time to be strategic, to look at the overall structure of the organisation and to plan for the next five years.

The participation in the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme came at a pivotal time for our organisation. The mentorship programme helped us define exactly what steps were needed to enable positive growth. The key focus points have been the following:

  • Our new strategic plan. This is the main driving force for the organisation and informs all future decisions.
  • The role of our Board of Directors. A specific focus on development is now an integral part of our new strategy.
  • The creation of a fundraising sub-committee. This committee brings a targeted approach to prospecting.
  • To develop a fundraising and marketing plan, which essentially sits alongside our strategic plan.
  • We are also focusing more on effective communication, grant writing, networking, and the importance of setting ambitious yet achievable targets for the future.

Our five year goal is to produce new work every year for the Lime Tree Theatre stage. The Limerick Fund for Theatre (LiFT) is now a key element of our fundraising plan in enabling these works. The aim of LiFT is to create a sponsorship and execution framework for long-term investment directly supporting work by Limerick artists and to enhance the cultural growth in our city. This fund will enable the creation, generation and production of Limerick sourced theatre for our audiences.

For me the most important part of the programme was the level of support shown during a time where the learning curve seemed steep. The continuous support of the Business to Arts team and the allocation of two mentors, Eamonn Carroll, Festival Director for Black Water Valley Opera and Tanya Townsend, Sponsorship Manager with Bord Gáis Energy Theatre was instrumental in shaping and distilling what I wanted to say and do. We also had the opportunity to learn from various guest speakers who are experts in their fields. This support and advice guided me throughout the year and gave me confidence to forge ahead with my own ideas for our organisation.

The Fellowship has been a transformative experience for me personally and for the organisation. As a team, we now look to the future feeling very optimistic and prepared. If you would like to find out more about anything mentioned above or how you can support the Lime Tree Theatre | Belltable, you can contact me directly.

Gill Fenton

Marketing Development Manager


Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland is a partnership between Business to Arts and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

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