TBG+S – DeVos Programme Learning
Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Rayne Booth and Anne Kelly discuss their learnings from the New Stream partnership with the DeVos Institute and how small changes are paving the way for already visible, transformation. | Interview by Margarita Vásquez Cárdenas
In 2013, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) celebrated its 30th anniversary for supporting professional visual artists in the heart of Dublin. With a variety of programmes from exhibitions to artists talks and education activities, TBG+S engages a large community of individuals with the arts throughout the year. After finalising their celebrations, and following a change in their Director at the end of the year, they decided to focus their efforts on marketing, fundraising and expanding their family.
For Account Manager and Development Coordinator, Anne Kelly, the DeVos Programme has played an important role in orienting the staff, and ultimately the organisation with straightforward business tools. “To be able to have terms to describe concepts that you know naturally, is invaluable knowledge that puts everyone on the same page.” Equally, Institutional Marketing and feedback on their strategic plan have played a part in understanding their assets. “It wasn’t about a lack of ideas, but rather a need to structure our ambition as to who we are and what we want to achieve with the resources we have”.
One of the main learnings highlighted by Programme Curator, Rayne Booth, was focusing on marketing their programme more effectively, rather than increasing their yearly offer. One such example was taking advantage of programmatic spikes generated by their Studios application process. Previously, Project Studios’ and Membership Studios’ applications had a joint closing date, and were heavily promoted during the same time of the year. “Strengthening our programmatic marketing, we have split them up immediately doubling our opportunity to talk about ourselves throughout the year”, says Rayne.
According to Anne, the DeVos mentorship has helped with two mayor sponsorships during the year. The first is their continued relationship with Mason Hayes & Curran Solicitors through the ‘Creative Generations’ Programme. This partnership is supporting a direct dialogue between three city centre schools and TBG+S artists. Following studio visits and workshops with students, a collaborative exhibition will be held in Mason Hayes & Curran’s offices later in the year. Rayne highlights that DeVos “gave us the confidence in making the ask and gave us the skills to position ourselves better”. This was evident when a Corporate Foundation visited their space in November 2013. They were able to connect with the organisation with the tools learned through DeVos, and a 3-year partnership is currently under way with funds allocated to their subsidised studio programme.
Through their mentorship by Nicole Kidsen from DeVos, TBG+S analysed the possibility of a Friend’s Scheme for the organisation. Previously of the opinion that this type of scheme wouldn’t raise enough money to justify the resources invested, they’ve shifted their perspective and launched the Supporters Club in February of this year. Rayne adds, “it has been a slow start, and it would have been really easy to say it’s not working. However, we understand it’s more about developing our family and bringing people closer to the organisation.” They are currently working on bringing in new supporters and held their first Supporters Club BBQ on the roof terrace of the TBG+S building in June.
Regarding the DeVos Programme itself, Rayne mentions the importance of the mentor’s “investment and connection to what you are doing. They understand how much we do with so little.” While group phone calls might not be suited to everyone, Anne found them practical and as an outcome of being in your own space while participating, “information stays with you and you are more focused on ways of implementing the information received within the organisation”. They also found it interesting to sit in on a webinar role play pitch with a potential donor. “Listening to someone (from a different organisation) who, even though nervous, still did the ask, was a great educational experience.”
“We don’t have an American model and we are not British either; we don’t have a legacy of business people giving to the arts. But maybe little by little, the idea of giving money to the arts is coming in.” Rayne Booth
In terms of value being added to Ireland and arts organisation by the DeVos Programme, they both agree this is the case, as participants are invested in the partnership. It is providing not only a platform for discussion on important issues within the Irish context, but also providing a much-needed change regarding the culture of giving. Anne notes that “the more we ask, the more businesses and individuals become used to being asked. Our participation in the DeVos programme could in fact be generating a normalisation of what could come in the future, a real culture of giving.”