Conference Video

Financial Sustainability and Fundraising

This panel examines the different ways cultural groups have been affected by COVID-19. Panelists discuss the loss of revenue, strategies for fundraising during this time, and how our current granting policies affect what art we get to see, and whose stories are told. This discussion includes an inter-sectional examination of what future funding and granting models could look like in the "new normal.”

How can we learn from this and move towards a more equitable, diverse industry? Panelists envision what funding could look like in a post-pandemic world.


Ben Dietschi

Ben is a senior consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, with 10 years of arts management experience informed by a 16-year career in the arts.

You can learn more about Ben on our Speakers Page.

Mimi Mok

Mimi has over 10 years of experience in the arts and culture sector in Canada and Asia, primarily in development and board relations. She is currently the Business & Development Director at The Theatre Centre.

You can learn more about Mimi on our Speakers Page.

Michelle Yeung

With over 15 years of not-for-profit and management experience in the arts, Michelle has a successful track record in arts administration, with a commitment to a culture of philanthropy and to the arts.

You can learn more about Michelle on our Speakers Page.

Talk Video


>> Ben holds a bachelor's degree in jazz performance from the University of Toronto. Michelle Young has a successful track record in arts administration with a commitment to culture of philanthropy and the arts.

She's also on the board of directors of the performing arts and the network of mass culture.

And Mimi Mok has over ten years of experience in the arts and culture sector in Canada and Asia. Primarily in development and board relations. She's currently the business and development director at the theatre centre. Mimi recently completed her MBA with a specialization in arts, media and entertainment management.

Please welcome Ben, Michelle, and Mimi.

>> Hello.

>> We'll just wait a moment for Mimi. Well, do you want tostart with your introduction?

>> OK, sure. Thank you for the introduction. I am MichelleYoung. I'm the managing director of the school of Toronto dance theatre. We arean arts organization as well as a training institution for contemporary dance.I'd like to just give a little quick update on sort of the financial impact onour organization due to the pandemic, and so we are looking at approximately upto 25% financial impact. We don't have any earned revenue coming in.

Fortunately for our organization, we have been able to tap intogovernment relief funds such as cues and CEBA and we're a heritage organizationso we also have that TOPa and our organization has pivoted quite swiftly sinceour closure on March 13, and we have been able to really focus on our coreprograms and focus all our engagement on our core group of audience members whoare students, and we sort of had some digital acceleration to deliver theremaining of our school year online. Now we're looking at the medium termviability and the continuation with no clear road map. And we likely won't berecovering chSHGS I'll talk more about later, until in the post pandemic worlduntil 2023.

>> Wow!

>> Wow!

>> Sorry, Mimi. We started without you.

>> No worries. Just so everyone knows, I was smiling reallyhard ready to go. So hi, everyone.

I'm Mimi, and I'm the business development director at theToronto. My office is in the west neighbourhood.

Today I am joining this panel from my living room, so first ofall, welcome to my home. A little bit about the theatre centre. We are a lifearts incubator and a community hub and we do a lot of work to support artistsin developing new works, and also, the resulting production and anythingafterwards such as touring which has really picked up in the last few year. Ourmission is to offer a home for creative, cultural, and social interactions toinvent the future. For us, home is about our building where we operate twotheatres and a café and a gallery and home is also about the people who gatherin our space. In my role as business and development director, I look afterquite a few things, and I like to summarize it as stewardship, cultivation andgeneration of resources that includes money and also people and our space. Sopast couple of months, a lot of challenges for us. Since we had to close ourbuilding on March 15, we lost all our regular earned revenue from the café andalso from people who rent out space.

But since April, we kind of find our footing and with thegovernment subsidy that kicked in in mid-April, we're projecting to have about15% loss in revenue. Our challenge actually comes next year, because we're notprojecting for any earned revenue at all, and our profile is usually 50% earnedrevenue. But instead of planning for things that we think we'll have to cancelafter, we're thinking to go smaller, and drop things in as we see thepossibilities come up. So you know, that's one thing that has started us on thesoul searching journey really.

And then of course earlier this month, when Black Lives Mattermovement came and is really asking us to look at the systems that we work inand how we've been benefitting from systems that are unjust and what should wedo as institutions to try to find a way to change.

>> Wow!

We'll get through all of it this hour, I hope. No. It's such apleasure to join two visionary leaders here in Toronto.

They're support the Vitality of two really important institutions.As you heard before, this role I'm in now, I was executive director ofSoundstreams, and care very much about the Toronto arts community I'm situatedin. But yes, I am working for the devOS institute of arts management which isheadquartered in DC.

It's the brainchild of Michael Kaiser who is the former CEO of theKennedy centre among other things known as the turnaround king of the arts.What I've been doing recently is assisting many organizations as they grapplewith some of the challenges that you just heard Michelle and Mimi mention. Wedid a round of pandemic response triage planning that was for 400 organizationsacross North America. I did 80 of them myself, and this is just to say thatthis is what we are living and breathing with everyone right now, and thechallenges are really profound, and I think in some small way we'd like tounpack how we can move beyond this in the medium term and beyond in thissession. I think I'll leave it at that. We're thinking about this idea hereabout financial sustainability.

What does it mean now? What does it mean in the future? In thisenvironment that no one could have predicted. Of all of the scenario planningwe could have done, I think it's fair to say we wouldn't have thought aboutsurviving with the actual force of our mission, the programming is the onething we can't do right now. It's such a profound shift in the way all of thethinking has to go. I'm seeing, you know, of course, as just mentioned,organizations that have lots of earned revenue, are being pummelled right now,which typically was kind offy seen by and large as a great thing. You are Iresponse from the public with your work.

You're building audiences and they're paying money to do thingswith you. Now we're seeing those organizations hurting the worst. Contributedrevenue is able to float organizations now and in some cases it becomes asavings for organizations that have aed mole that's tipped that direction.

That's very strange. Some organizations, of course, really highfixed costs and not a lot of working capital like orchestras have somethinglike two weeks of cash on hand on average. So this is not good for thoseorganizations that have reliance on earned revenue and high fixed costs andvery it is they felt like they could do in the world. But the question thatcame up right away and persists to this day and becomes more and more pronounceside how do we engage with our institutional family? What do we do to keepourselves in the hearts and minds of our audiences and our donors during thistime? When the first wave of this came, I really thought of this in terms ofalso being appropriate and staying out of the conversation where othercharitable sectors needed some intense triage in society like health and otherpressing needs.

Now, I think, you know, as this is extending, we really have tofigure out what is our value proposition to our family of supporters? I see alot of people grappling with that.

They're grappling with how do I actually ask people for moneyduring this time. The institutions and people and I'll unpack that a little bitlater I hope. And also the other thing I see is just this broken customerpromise that we're pretty good at in the arts. One of the things we do reallywell is say a year and a half from now or a year from now, it will be this showand have this amazing artist and it usually happens as we plan by and large.

It's these miracles we do that.

That's been profoundly shattered in this environment. I haven'tseen that either.

Here we are looking at how this becomes the new normal.

It's not a bridge strategy anymore. I'm seeing organizations, youknow, say, well, woo estgot government funding for now. How can we rely onthat, because what's the elephant in the room? Again, relevancy. How long canyou expect to remain relevant in this time that will generate financial health?And as a profound aside, just quickly to say that artists -- these are thegrass roots fundamental producers of the actual work that we take to the public,and they largely have been left out of those sweeping relief efforts.

>> Uh-huh.

>> Closing my thoughts here.

The last chunk of this, I'm seeing organizations looking at one ofthree doors. They're contemplating at this juncture now, which they weren'tbefore largely, a hibernation state.

Look at the Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis. They're saying we dotheatre. We're not Netflix.

And we don't do film. So rather than change our mission, we aregoing to go into hibernation and come back when we can bring you beautifultheatre again.

It's been changing people's lives for thousands of years and wetend for this to be a break and we'll be back at it. Door number two is whatwe've been calling at the institute, digitized be as usual. We're saying OK, let'stake what we do and keep it on a mission and try to shove it through thisstrange digital pen opty con. I can't see a single audience member.

That's what people are trying to do with their programming. Someof it's successful. Training has been more successful than programming. Someorganizations are really now look at how do we deliver a product that actuallyhas the values that are going to generate revenue and interest over time? Thethird door is just sort of like something unexpected, like the sort ofstartling innovation, the things that are crazy that seem to be working likeall the drive-in stuff that is happening. I saw one festival deploy concertsall over lawns and reach as many people as the full festival or the New Yorkdance company that's doing a drive-in show where they dance over people's carsand you put on an MP3 track. And a children's they were going to do a backyardproject. What can we do in this frame to shatter that frame and come up withsomething new? It all boils down to what are we doing within the lens of ourmission? How can we deliver that value? And to whom? And I think answering thatquestion is going to be really important in the medium term.

>> Uh-huh. Yeah. Ben, I really take a lot of what you sid iswhat we're experiencing right now every day as we try to figure out how to --well, first, survive this period, and then, you know, what do -- how do we wantto emerge when the pandemic is over? And internally, we talk about it as takinga gap year and finding our heartbeat. And you know, as an incubator, weprimarily serve artists who are developing new works. That's what we startwith. In our soul searching, one of the biggesty debates that's come up isshould we use the resources that we have to try to preserve ourselves in orderto emerge as strong as possible when whenever we can or should we share withartists what we have now? Because they haven't stopped creating. They need oursupport now. So you know, on the one hand is how --

we do need to survive. If we can't survive, we can't do anythingin the future. On the other hand, if we don't support the art, why do we existin the first place? And you know, as we debate this internally, I think one ofthe things that became really clear to me is the reason why we're even havingthis debate is that resources in the sector are so tied to productions. They'reso tied to output.

>> Right.

>> If we talk about the revenue mix, it's public, private,and earned revenue. Public money, a lot of it goes towards projects, say, forexample, Canada council for the arts, 50-P of their funding goes to a projectand 50% to its operating for institutions. We talk about private sector. A lotof companies like to sponsor shows because that's visible. And that's a way forthem to do a lot of other work to please their clients. In terms of earnedrevenue, box office only comes when a production is in place. So yeah. In ourwork of supporting development of new works, public funding tends to be small.Colleagues who also do commission for works, the commission varies a lot. Itcould be, you know, one year is living wage for an artist or just one month.Comparing that to the period of time that a work needs to take. That really hasa lot of discrepancy and gaps around it. In our experience, most of the worksthat we have supported takes on average between two to three years. Definitelyalso quite a few that takes longer. For example, one of the shows that we didin 2017 called secret life of a mother, it took five years. So they started atthe beginning wanting to explore poportrayal of motherhood in popular culture.In that five-year development period, they became mothers for the first time.That completely changed the direct of the show.

What I am starting to really feel for all the artists, as yousaid, Ben, that's been left out of a lot of emergency funds that are availableto the sector is the original model that we were working on already askedartists to shoulder almost all of the risks during the development period. Theyhave to take all the financial risk up front, and then bank on money coming inthrough project funding or box office sales. Later when the project is almostdone that.

Means artist his always had to find their own ways to survivedevelopment, and that immediately already shuts out a lot of people who can'tafford to do that. And even if we look at, you know, through the equitablelens, it is not equitable, because if we look at artists, institutions, andfunders as equal system and that supports the whole sector, we're asking thegroup with the least resources to shoulder the most risk. We're also on theother hand saying we do need a supply of new works all the time in order forthe ecosystem to survive. Median income for people in arts and culture sectorfrom the 2016 census, nationally, it's about $25,000.

National low-income measure threshold which is used to gaugewhether a household is a working poor family is just about $22,000. Sobasically, even before COVID, half of these people already are eitherborderline working poor or working poor, and we know that with the pandemic andall the things shut down, it has just gotten worse. Also adding to that, weknow for sure that the economic downturn from the pandemic is hitting bipockcommunities disproposately.

They're even more at risk than they were recently, and we have anurgent question to ask in terms of how do we keep as many BIPOC artistssustainable and have their talents stay in the sector.

I think COVID has really forced us to stop business as usual.

And start the soul searching and I think about what has been andnot working. What needs to be changed. So I just want to wrap my thought withtwo things. The first thing is that cirque has given a life line to manyartists and freelancers in the industry. I think Kirk is a form of universalbasic income.

One of the ways that if we can manage to have universal basicincome, we can basically more equally distribute the risk of creative workamongst the whole society, not just within our sector. And media institutions,one of the things we can lend is our voice and our platform to all the lobbyingfrom all the different sectors that have been working on getting a UBI and planfor UBI in place. The second thing that's giving me hope is that our councilsand the government has moved very quickly at the beginning of COVID and theyhave stepped in with a lot of emergency measures that's given institutions theability to stabilize. That is very different from some other councils that areless friendly towards change.

When we had artistic director change last year, we were actuallymoved from multiyear operating funding to a single year. And that's for 10% ofour operating budget each year. And now we have to apply every year and keepour fingers crossed that we will get the same amount. That's never been anissue for those that never had any change in leadership for many years. I'mhoping that with the pace that our councils were able to move at begin ofCOVID, we can see a different future in how we can all work together.

>> Thank you, Mimi.

>> There is one question in the thing now, whether we wantto just -- Ben, if you want to answer this is whether emergency funds have beenin existence in the past? I don't believe --

>> Well, there was -- not in this way, I think. I think that-- no. I would say after the 2008 crisis, there was a similar emergency,particularly south of the border in the way it hit private-sector funding.

I've never seen this kind of a response from government or major,major foundations before.

>> Yeah. The second half of that question, we'll talk aboutlater. So I'm going to leave it for now. I'll continue in terms of futuresustainability and the perspective of institutions and of course I'm using myown perspective at the school as well as on the boards I sit on, and also tofill up this conversation with some of the conversations that I've had with mycolleagues who are also dealing with many of these same things. So in order forinstitutions like the school, for example, to build towards future sustainability,we still need to continue and invest in human resource development andinfrastructure development. And when I say human resource development, I'mtalking about reevaluating the leadership models we have or the business modelor training of staff and looking at the models and our processes, investing andcontinuing to do that, and also continuing to invest and contribute tomentorship, because when we get out of this whether it's three years or fiveyears, we still need doze skills to move forward. And part of doing that hereis around challenging our notions and our norms and our assumptions, and it'svery hard for institutions, we've been around for 50 years, and so there arequite a few assumptions that have allowed us to continue in the way that wehave because stability brings grants. Stability equals grants. It doesn't allowfor change. For you to challenge those assumptions. Now is the time. Especiallywith antioppression, Black Lives Matter, and in terms of safety in theworkplace. That's all been a lot of the conversation over the last -- in theimmediate and the last three years. There are some of the things we need tolook at right now. I think that taking a pause as to what we're doing in yourorganization is important.

I mentioned at beginning that in three weeks, we accelerateddigitally and delivered coordinating of our training program or the end of theacademic year. We did that because we didn't want our students to fall back,and we were able to, because of that short period of time. But as we moveforward, we're really thinking about does that make sense? Are we able todeliver our programs in a digital world?

Should it be hybrid? Should we, could we? Doesn't even make sensewith the viability around all of that is under question, and I think it's agood opportunity, anywhere where we're pushed to take risks and challengeourselves helps us innovate and come up with better solutions. So here is anopportunity for institutions and organizations that have a little bit of historyto really think about how they can shift to become more adaptive, more nimbleand more flexible, and to really challenge those legacy practices or bestpractices that may no longer be relevant even in the current context, but inthe post pandemic world. I strongly believe as much as we all grapple and wantto move forward and be normal again, that normal doesn't really exist anymore.Even in the short period of time for three months zEESHGS learned to go beyondour comfort zone, and we need to continue to do that in terms of futuresustainability. I see this also as a period in term of challenging ourassumptions is really you have the ability and people are expecting you to takerisks and try new things out because you have to. I think there's more of an appetitenot to work but at least you'll learn something from that and learn fromothers. We can't all be doing the same thing and pushing out the same materialsand content. Let's work together. Are there synergies to share resources andall those kind of things. Those are some things that I'm thinking about interms of future sustainability specifically for the school. As we look deeper,we're looking at mission, vision values and how we should get rid of theclutter that doesn't allow us to do what our core mission is, and reallyfocusing on those values, because that's what's going to push you forward. Andyour mission is the reason why you exist. Not all the other things that you'redoing or the money that you're chasing to get into your organization. So interm of future sustainability, absolutely. Viability, I'm thinking about aswell. Should we even exist? As a training institution? In terms of the artsecology and the dance ecology, yes and no. Can we make space for someone else?

Can we make space for new voices? And we're thinking about all ofthese things and how we can contribute to the sector but also support thesector in that regard. And I think my final thing that I want to mention isthat in terms of future sustainability is just around that it really isimportant for us now as much as to attest to test our assumptions and challengethem.

It's about really being honest about identifying the gaps that arewithin your organization, within the sector, and whether or not we're able asindividuals or as an organization or a collective, as a community, can addressthose challenges. I think -- was it Anthony who said in the key note, when youunbirth these complexities, it becomes even more. When you unearth these flawsor gaps, it becomes more complex, and yes, it's easy to identify them, but howdo we solve the problems.

And that's sort of what we're grappling with at the institutionallevel.

>> Uh-huh. I really -- this idea that the support structureswe create in our society that say arts has intrinsic value and we're going togive it this nudge to exist of course calcifies the way we do the work anddesign our institutions and I'm hearing through line in everything that you'resaying about the value of risk taking which of course we know isn't new.

Nonprofits are really just risk averse.

We think they're going to be risky ventures or for-profit folksthink that. When you look at any tech start-up, they're willing to fail big ifthey need to or fail small and learn and fall again and learn. It's that senseof remembering what it was like to have this huge appetite for risk taking andchanges that comes with a crisis, and not that we would ask for this. I thinkthat's really important and might be something that we can use to address someof the systemic, bigger issues that you've outlined. The other --

go ahead. Yeah, please.

>> I just wanted to also add that as an institution, ourstructures are based on these, you know, euro colonial views and values aroundwhat art is.

If we relate that back to the granting and what Mimi was sayingaround we need to support artists and that we need to distribute that risk andtake ownership of that, is that our current structures don't actually supportthat.

They want to support stability, which is great. There should besome stability, but they don't -- when there's stability, there really isn't alot of room for innovation, and so when the innovation comes, and I think theymentioned this in the accessibility, innovation happens in the marginalized orthe fringe.

>> Uh-huh.

>> So they're take all the risks, and so yeah. And in termof the current structure as to your point, Mimi, is around it becomesexclusionary.

>> Uh-huh.

>> That's one big thing we want to tackle and of course,Mimi, you also mentioned Canada council has moved to 50/50 project/operating.

What is the next step beyond that, right? I think we all have towork together and bring that voice forward to support these changes.

>> Yeah. And I'm actually quite excited to see what Canadacouncil comes up with in terms of next phase of emergency funding they havepromised to individual artists in the sector. I think that's very new. I'venever seen that. At any level of arts council. So very curious to see theirplan.

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah.

>> My brother recently applied for Canada council, hisfirst, and he got it, and I was like oh, they actually are doing what they'resaying. I know a person, and he applied for the first time and received alittle microgrant. I said that's great. Sometimes it's hard to see the resultsof that, because we're so entrenched in our own work, and those structures.

>> Perhaps some thoughts on how it's great we have somethoughts of how we can approach individual donors at this time.

It comes up a lot. Maybe this will help. Maybe not. I noticed astark difference between throwing your money into a flaming pit of despair asksand we all had those come to our indocs. They were very long e-mails from theartistic leadership that were unedited and everyone is panic and I'm not makinglight of that. It's not necessarily the most inspiring thing to open up yourwallet especially at that moment when you're going through the triage wave ofthat. And you're wanting to donate to the red cross, etc. etc. Someorganizations on the other hand have restraint and they did this in a smartway. This is what I think would be the smart way.

You would not send that message.

You would send a message that's very much not -- we meet you whereyou are. You are valuable to us. Something very short about this is what we'redoing and it's all right. Then it was this whole come to build inner coalitionfirst. Go to your org and show them the hairy details.

Come up with a plan. If it's the gap, turn it from a gap into aplan and then start moving outward in your spheres of influence, to your majordonors.

Get a match going. A month and a half from now, you start to seethese campaigns come out that are about future vision and future projects andresiliency and innovation and the continuance of the mission which is whatpeople buy into. If I learned anything from Michael Kaiser, by and large,people want to buy into a success story in the arts. We're not the red cross.We're not a hurricane relief fund. I saw the most volume of that wrong kind offundraising I've ever seen. I understand why it happened but I think we shouldlearn from that.

Now that we're in this medium term, how did you approach peoplefor money? I think there is starting to widen some light coming in and somespace for going to individuals. I think you can do it this way. Think of yourdonors in four times.

Mission, access, social, and status motivated. I'll go throughthem again.

The mission oriented donor is interested in seeing your missioncontinue. They're interested in the long-term trajectory. We bring futureprojects, future initiative, exciting, innovative programming that's going tohappen even if you don't know when it's going top HAchLT they can come in asearly investors in this as we have always done.

By and large, we have forgotten that people are inspired to hearabout those things and ready to hear about those things.

I'm noticing success happening in the background for things thatare going to come out when we're back programming in person. So that's how wetreat the mission donor.

Access, well, it's interesting, you know, that you can stillprovide really digitally intimate experiences with artists now, and you can doit with great ease. Get more famous people than you haven't before to connectwith a small group of donors because they don't have to leave their house.

I saw things that I didn't think would work that they would getbored. They're still doing digital donor lounges that are work. Same for theminor that misses those overlapping circles of people. It's a unique joyousgroup of people that come together for the mission. If those peoples areprovided with that. There are couples and friends you don't see unless you'rearound that mission.

Some people value that above all else. Let's give that to them howeverwe can in this time that may become easier as small groups can gather.

The status donor is tougher during the digital period.

It's harder. Some might be interested in the kind of recognitionwe provide during this time. But you can't give the shoutout from the stage.

We have to be creative about what to do. And you're hinting at itearlier, talking about corporate funding that is the same thing were we want tobe addressed in a public event. So I find that to be -- but just some food forthought that these conversations are convince advancing and people are lookingto the future and it's important to look at what value you're going to beproviding. Does that spur anything for you two?

Are you doing any of these things?

>> Yeah. I really like how you categorized into four groupsof donors, and I wonder if there's a little bit more overlap between themission donor and the socially minded donor and the access donor and statusdonor? Like a Venn diagram.

Because what we've been looking at in terms of fundraising is theyes, sir that if we build it, people may not come. But if they build it, theywill stay.

That's the model that inspired us was the art centre in London.

They had a fire in a couple of years ago.

What happened was their community really came together to helpthem rebuild, and have stayed on and really consider it part of the community,and so that is one way that we want to explore, and I think it probably tiesbetter into the mission and socially minded donors that you listed.

>> Yeah. That's inspiring.

I think the theatre centre is a great example of having that kindof ownership the way it came to and continue, yeah.

>> Thanks, Ben, for summarizing that as well. Thank you you, also for validating what we're doing, inconsistent with the [not audible]

[ Laughter ].

>> I think when we first -- when we first closed, we decidedwe're really going to focus on our core programs and our core groups which isour students, and we weren't going to talk about whether we're a sinking ship ornot a sinking ship.

I think that that helped us prioritize how we were going tocommunicate. Students, our faculty, the artists that we engage with, and weallowed --

we shifted our fundraising plan and allowed for people to -- notto clutter the air waves with our ask because it was a lot of information goingout at the time around safety and health concerns and all that, and thensubsequently, we also shifted to support Black Lives Matter and those othervery important messages that were out there.

We've been focusing specifically on our core donors, so renewalsof our donors is where we're focusing and to maintain that momentum for thefuture. Really creating opportunities for us to engage with them and not somuch asking for money at this moment but for continuous engagement.

We're fortunate in that we have access to relief funds, and wehave a good mix that allow us to cushion those blows, but we're seeing this asa really good opportunity to focus on stewardship, and to bring people along toget and build for that future past 2023 when we hope to be out of this --

>> I think that's really smart.

>> Yeah.

>> So I think we were even in our team, we were chattingabout, oh, well, if you look back 20 years, you remember those PBS telethonsthat were on TV, something like that to be engaged with and also somethingcheeky and fun. We're hoping to plan something like that for August. Who knowshow successful it would be.

It's about engagement.

Because we're not doing performances right now, we take foradvantage that engagement when people come to our show and access and feel,we're trying to recreate that through some onliege engagement and sharing ofnews in a more effective way, and we're looking at even -- OK, we need to startpicking up the telephones again.

>> That's right.

>> And talk to people. Because we kind of push away fromthat when there's digital opportunity and people -- there's a lot of clutterand a lot of like --

you're competing for people's time. Now I feel that we don't --have more time.

>> This is really profound actually. One of the things Ikept coming to with clients is they should make a huge phone tree andreallocate staff and make it all about high touch ambassadorial work. Reachingpeople in their homes. If you can stay in someone's heart and mind that way,that's the next most powerful thing we other than the art.

It's not just fans tow talk about on panels like this. But this isstill one of the best things, and everyone that was successful did that first.

Absolutely. They went through everyone. I think that has tocontinue. We have to make very high touch efforts. Yeah.

There was a question here about how to encourage artists gettingpaid in the digital realm? Do we want to touch that at all? I would say thattraining has been easier to convert to paid largely is what I'm seeing.

Why I'll leave to these other two to answer. And why it'sdifficult is that we're one of those industries that's in the awkward halfwayplace where we haven't really learned to monetize.

If you look at any of the platforms that serve the arts that way,we're in danger of ending up like newspapers playing catch-up. I don't have aneasy answer other than I like step models that allow people to engage moredeeply as they get more into what you're doing much there's a trial that's freeand that it steps up very -- boil them one degree at a time until they'rebuying your digital membership. Those are gooded moells. Do you have anythoughts?

>> We haven't tried to monetize anything digitally in termsof content. Partly because we're unsure whether -- if there's too much contentout in the world.

And so can we make space from anybody else? Our core program isnot presenting but we present as part ever training.

Training as Ben mentioned has shiftshifted quicker, I guess,digitally, but I think because in the training model, it's still part of youroperating.

It's not doing more, because we can shift in that way because it'snot doing extra and beyond what you're already doing.

>> Yeah.

>> The monetizing thing is really interesting. I knowTaaffele music is monetizing their concerts. I'm not sure how that's going. Idon't know.

>> Yeah.

>> How you do it. So with so much clutter and content, arewe just competing and then are people willing to pay when there's a free optionsomewhere else?

>> Yeah. We haven't tried to monetize it just yet either.

We're basically doing our same old model as in we're paying theartists, and we are pulling presenter fees and things like that fromorganizations.

Audiences tuning in hasn't had to pay yet. So I'm with you, Ben,on this one much I think we might get into the difficult position thatnewspapers are facing right now in that they started to ask for subscriptionsbut that hasn't really covered for all the losses from advertising. I don'tquite know where we're land in terms of performing arts. But one thing thatI've been seeing that might be interesting is some theatre companies havestarted podcasts, and they started using pa treon.

They have hosts, I think it's monthly meetings and have differentlevers of membership as you said. So some subscription lets you look reallydeep into their creative process and some is you just get to come to theirmonthly gathering.

>> That's great. And really an important thought comes tomind about all of this is there's something we're doing when we move into adigital marketplace is that we're moving the element of geography. I found that--

we've talked about quality which is so important, and I stillthink doesn't get talked about enough. I agree those are great examples of howyou can try to fund it. It's so important to Meng there has to be a conscioussense that are we actually now in an acquisitional sense not just putting itout there to be discovered but devoting resources to a global market?

This is a profound shift of the mission.

If you look at what the mission is, what are we doing? For whom?And where? That's the third part of the mission. And the how should be flex andI believe that's what we're seeing with the medium change. But most of thetime, at least in the beginning of this, I've been saying you really should bebeaming awful your digital stuff and a cone of light right over down the top ofthe people that might actually come back to your shows. It might be cool tohave people from all over the world to log on to your livestream.

But what is that going to add up to later? I haven't found that'sbeen addressed very well yet. My advice has been start with your core, and Ihear that from Michelle. Development folks have that instinct, I'm sure you didwith yours. What about audiences? Have you thought about that, either of you?What do you think about your audiences if you were to go digital and what thatmeans in terms of the catchment area?

>> Yeah. We definitely have discussed that, but we startedwith at the point of what sort of content would make people want to stay withus for, you know, an hour on the screen if their own home in and shoutout toeveryone who has been following us in this chat so far, because that's whatyou're doing.

So in terms of content, we've been throwing ideas around in termsof is there something that we need to do together such that it's interestingagain and people feel like they're connected with people even though you're allin your own home looking at a screen. So yeah. In that sense, we're beenthinking about who are our audiences at this moment of time.

>> I love that you put the art first and the quality of theproduct first.

[ Laughter ].

>> I work with a lot of theatre majors. It's very true tous, I think.

>> Maybe I'm being too colloquial, but we weren't Netflixbefore this. Right?

It's all moved so fast. When the Guthrie artistic director saidbut when we're not in film, something very profoundly simple hit me. We have toslow down and think about what we're doing that way. Your art form may nottranslate to those platforms, and Michelle, you say you're thinking about that.Some things will not translate and if that's the case, we should have acreative sabbatical and everything about the business and the employees. Ifthis is what we do in the world, we shouldn't be doing it poorly.

That won't serve us in the long run. There was another questionthat came in about basically the idea that funders make you fill out so manyforms and things, it's like you spent the amount of time spending their formsthat the grant was worth.

It's a big problem and something that is hard to be brave to talkabout when you're trying to get funding.

It's something I get to be louder about now. I'm just going to sayby and large, they're not doing at this time right way. They have to trust youto create deliverables. And make it as lean as possible to get to that. And wesee like the Ford foundation, and I would argue the Canada council reallystriving for that. Where others really, it seems like there's another layer ofbureaucracy every year. I don't have a long point about that, other than Ithink that's true. I think it's OK to speak up to funders and say these things,and OK to also charge for your overhead expenses. That's usually what gets usinto trouble.

You don't have time to write the grant because you haven't builtthat in.

>> I think that's fair. A few years pack, I participated ina focus group organized by Katie heritage. I'm not sure whatever happened tothat. We didn't get it. It spoke about how they were trying to centralize andmake more efficient the granting process, and one of the questions at the endof that focus group was around how -- if hu to monetize the amount of time itcosts you to apply for a grant and do reporting, that whole process, whatamount would you attribute to that? And of course, there were many differentorganizations from the many different heritage programs that were participatingin that.

But in that graph where people just put their hack on this numberline T ranged from $5,000 to $20,000. So for a lot of time, that is like halfyour grant, or a good portion of your grant could be spent somewhere else toreally deliver programs or innovate or do something different or pay artists.

Right? So yeah.

>> Yeah. I am totally with you on that, Michelle. If youever get the outcome of that consultation that you participated in, I wouldlove to see it. I wonder if this is the moment where we start working togetherinstead of, you know, funders doing a thing that feels like on the oppositeside from institutions and, you know, institutions field like there's on adifferent side than artists and funders. This is something I've read innonprofit. I don't know if you follow that blog.

Basically, the author of the blog said multiple times, this is around table. We're not work on different sides of the table. We're trying toachieve the same thing. Let's try to work together, and you know, that mightreduce some of the bureaucracy.

>> That's a great way to look at it. I find funders are morereceptive to these questions than we think. They want those outcomes and yoursuccess. As perhaps a point to end that on, I learned -- I'm reasonably certainthat ivy league schools charge -- what percentage do you think they wouldcharge in overhead when they fund raise?

I'm letting the crowd guess.

It's a shocking amount. 40%.

>> Wow!

>> Wow!

>> That's what I heard.

>> I said 5% to 10% to a donor the other day and they wereshocked and appalled by that.

>> You have to frame at this time right way. Maybe that'spractical advice. Maybe that's vehicle to folks. It's a huge mistake that'smade in a smaller organization. Part of the sustainability question in thistime or any time is to deal with that. I love the idea that we can create thatchange. Should we take another question or move to our wrap-up stage?

>> I've lost track of which questions we've answered.

>> I'm going off the ones that have been upvoted.

>> OK.

>> All right. I'll let you take it.

[ Laughter ].

>> I keep hitting the closed captioning button.

>> There's a question about how to be realistic with fundersabout the current financial reality. And then it lists --

Colleen, thank you for this question and lists the different typesof stakeholders. For me it's a very different conversation for each stakeholdered. The conversation with the funder is very open and should be more openthan it typically unless it's always about success. That's what we're hearingfrom institutional funders.

I think my advice for donors is back to what I said before. Bevery careful who you bring in, at what time, and what information they'reprovided.

Not because you're lying to people but it's not time for them toget on the bus yet.

You're asking them too much the e-mails sent to everyone in thedatabase. A show I went to seven years ago, I don't remember what company itis.

I'm not going to donate a huge amount of money. You have to thinkthe time. The marginal buyer, and donor, we could lose them forever if we don'tdo it in the right way. You need to know you found a way through and willdeliver incredible programming to them. Does that make sense?

>> Yeah.

>> Totally. Absolutely.

>> Yeah. Let's see. I see one question here from Jenniferabout can we have fundraising.

That's interesting for me. That is how I've been thinking aboutfundraising recently. I think so maybe crowd funding can be something we canexplore.

Raising fund for film makers and trying to raise the capital forfilming, they've had some success. I don't think we in the performing arts havetried a lot of that.

That might be a way to hack fundraising.

>> What do you think, Michelle?

>> I think there's been some success stories with crowdfunding. One example that I'm going to share from dance, and I see AndrewRoberts is on. I think it's my Andrew Roberts. I don't know if anyone has evertaken a Gaga class, but the Gaga community has really come together to raisemoney in that crowd funding way to support those artists that teach Gaga.

>> Hmm.

>> And so -- and then I know there's also -- in terms ofcontent, it relates back to monetizing content is that rather than charging anadmission, there's a pay what you can model. So pay five bucks and take a classor whatever, and that seems to also be working as well in terms of thefundraising realm.

>> That's very cool.

>> Yeah. And then, you know, it's how you get that totranslate to, perhaps, deeper relationships, and it has notions of generation,you know, generationality that perhaps younger donors are more willing toparticipate in that kind ever a way. And then also, you know, can we keep them?Can we advance them closer to the mission if they're sort of just giving anupvote with 50 bucks or something on a crowd fund? I don't know. I think that Iagree that we certainly haven't as in many other digital areas moved forward inthe arts and tested these things enough.

Yeah, certainly.

I think it's a good time to go over to our final thoughts perhaps.Or we can take one more question. Let's see here.

Question about rural groups being at a disadvantage. It's kind oftrue, isn't it? Where capital is present --

>> Absolutely.

>> Where capital is present, it's easier to fund raise.

>> Yeah. Although yesterday the keynote speaker, I think, aspeakers from Scotland, he raised some really interesting point, because he wasworking with rural groups before COVID, and the difficulties and challengesfaced by rural groups that he listed are almost a hundred percent what we haveall been talking about since the lockdown.

Things like feeling disconnected from each other, having to workvirtually all the time and virtual fatigue, and feeling disconnected fromhaving to work on your own and not as part of a group. So there may be a lot ofthings that we can learn by looking at the challenges that rural organizationswere facing and how they tackled those challenges that might inform us in termsof coming out of COVID.

>> Wow!

That's heavy. Yeah. That's another 1-hour talk, isn't it?

>> It probably is.

>> And the disparity around granting and fundraising.

It all exists, the further you are from the populace, the lessfunds that you'll have, and so whether -- I think looking ahead, whether distributioncan be considered at the government level or even at corporate levels, how, youknow, a dollar here is not the same as a dollar there. And so figuresin' outwhat that distribution should be.

>> I think we looks to the arts council to be the equalizersof geography and I think we take for granted they're doing that that.

They always have the magnetic poles to the city centres thatproduce the volume of art and the art that can push each other in differentways and forward.

Rural organizations need that equal boost because you can't do theprivate-sector fundraising you can do in a big city, to be the captain obvious.

It's really hard, and there they ask so many things from yourcommunity. All of a sudden, you become the community arts centre. You you'veseen those places that are run by miracle workers that doe sewn many things tobe the connective tissue for a community. That's something we should reallythink about. Thank you for that question.

>> Yeah.

>> Canada is humongous. It can be a challenge.

[ Laughter ].

>> We says as we sit in Toronto.

>> Yes.

>> OK. Final thought from anybody as we round the cornerhere? What do we want these folks to walk away think about or confused about?

>> I think in my own perspective and own world, I think myfinal thought for anyone who is a practitioner or anyone who works in anorganization is to continue to push forward, because otherwise, we don't knowwhere we'll be in a year or two, but to really think about what we were talkingabout at the beginning is around mission, vision, values. Those are the thingsthat are going to push and you drive you forward.

We need to focus on that and that will tomorrow what --

determine what you should be doing. We do need to stop the cycleof doing more and more and more. We need to do less but do those things likeamazing.

>> Yeah.

>> And I think that we have this time to really try to pushthat value forward about and thinking about the future of work and what thismeans for us as arts workers, practitioners and [not audible] to the community.

>> Yeah. For me, it's about, as we probably all would taketime to reflect, because all of the current situations, and life eventshappening around the world. I want to think about how the risks of engaging increative work is distributed across society at large, and how we as a sectorcan participate in making some changes that are crucial if we want to movetowards more equitable systems.

I want to quote my colleague Anita who said whenever I think aboutaction, I always think about what is my action. So it can be an individual whotakes meaningful action on your own, and I think all of us has the power toaffect how the group behaves.

>> That's a wonderful call to action. Here we findourselves, Michelle, saying we have a stability problem because stabilitycalcifies things and we can't create the change we need. We just became veryunstable for the foreseeable future and a reminder from Mimi, we all havechange to make and a sphere of influence in different ways in our professionaland personal lives that intersect so much in this community and it's a time toreally think about seriously about what changes we can create while we havethat malleablemalleablity. My thoughts would be to remember what we actually doin the world is art, and that if that isn't really high quality anddifferentiated and valuable for people, the whole thing is going to fall apart.

And so I think it's really important to think about what kind oforganization we are preparing to be when we come back, because we will comeback.

We've gotten to the point we feel this is forever and it's not.For most organizations, this will thankfully be a blip in the past. Now it'sreally important to think about what is the vision for those projects that aregoing to be so unbelievably exciting that our audiences will rally back and betogether again so we can build strong institutions? You have to figure out, areyou going to be an organization that focuses on creating world-class art andthat's going to lead everything, or you an organization that's going to makeyour art touch people in other ways? Are you going to work within thatintersection between art and other social practices? Are you going to be partof the solution to all of the things that we need to do to heal society on theother side of this? I think both of those are valid. I've made anotherdichotomy out of something that maybe was a circle as Mimi said. I'm not surewe're there as a sector and really unpacking and showing the world we create positivechange and social change and the financial and economic change, the way that wecan be a solution provider to help heal society in the years to come.

Now is the time to reflect on that.

What are we bringing to people?

How are we describing that impact? And what impact is it going tohave? Yeah. Thanks, everybody. And hi, everyone, out there. We could just betalking to ourselves right now.

We have no idea.

>> I see 494 people.

>> That'sful wonderful.

>> That's -- wow!

>> Amazing. Thank you. We'll bring Mikita back to wrap us UTup. Thank you.

>> Thank you.

>> Thanks, Mimi.

>> Thanks, Ben.

>> It was really good talking with you.

>> Yep. Same here.

>> Cool. I don't know how to get out of this thing. OK.

>> Thank you so much. We we only need six more to reach ourhalf a thousand. Thank you for the panel. It was great. It was actually one ofpanels I would say you have to go back to and listen to again. Now we're goingto have 15 minutes break, and we will meet again for our last session for todayand for our conference this year, which is. See you there.

Welcome and Keynote Address Chat Log

Below is a log of the live chat that occurred during this talk. The format is:




Emojis that were used in the chat will appear between colons, e.g., :smile:

Chat Log:


Julien Rutherford

Hi everyone,
This is another reminder to use the official conference hashtag  #CulturesCompass2020 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
 We want to hear about your takeaways, thoughts, and feedback. Let's keep the conversation going.
 I hope you're all enjoying Day 2 of the conference so far. Thank you for  tuning in!


Liz Pead

will there be an archive where people can see the  panels and presentations?


Kyla Ross

Hey Liz, you should be able to go back to a  previous session and re-watch it here in crowdcast by using the drop down at  the top left of your screen. We will be archiving them later on our website I  believe.


Devyani Saltzman

Great sessions. Thank you


Liz Pead

awesome, There's a few people I have directed to  join in today, but not sure if they all are able to /time constraints  /internet availability etc.  Thank you  Kyla!


Culture's Compass

Hey everyone! Just a reminder to keep questions  and comments appropriate and respectful!


Culture's Compass

Also, don't forget to use the hashtag  #CulturesCompass2020 on your socials!


Chris Coxson

Yes, I also spread the news, your link to my  craetive contacts, especially for future conferences


Jennifer Gordon

Thank you! We would love to keep this momentum  going


Jennifer Gordon

Hi Ben!!!!


Chris Coxson

Let me know how I can support you by writing you  praises & recommend your agencies to be able to continue. On your  website? Or at hashtag?


Jennifer Gordon

Hi Michelle!!


Colleen Smith

Hi Michelle! Hi Ben!


Kyla Ross

Hi Ben and Michelle


Jennifer Gordon

Hi Colleen!


Kyla Ross

and hopefully soon Mimi !


Jennifer Gordon

Hi Mimi!


Culture's Compass

Yay! Sorry Mimi and all for the technical  difficulty.


Colleen Smith

Hi Mimi!


Mimi Mok

no worries! yay i'm finally here!


Mimi Mok

Hi Colleen!


Claudia Molina

sorry i missed the beginning.  Who is the panel?


Jennifer Gordon

Financial Sustainability & Fundraisisng


Culture's Compass

Mimi Mok, Ben Dietschi, and Michelle Yeung are  our panelists for this session.


Culture's Compass

For more info on our awesome speakers, view their  full bios on our website here:


Chris Coxson

Hi Michelle, I work(ed) at Harbourfront FOH  Manager so have met you & loved TDT's shows!


Julien Rutherford

Hi Chris,
 Yes, please use the #CulturesCompass2020 to share any praise or thoughts you  have about the conference.
 And if you can, please mention the Humber College Centre for Creative  Business Innovation (@humberccbi (IG) & @HumberCCBI (Twitter)) and WorkInCulture  ( (IG) & @WorkInCulture (Twitter)) in your posts.
 Thank you so much for being part of the conversation!


Chris Coxson



Kyla Ross

great point Mimi!



Can some define/spell cerp/surp for me please?





Laura Chaignon

CERB:   Canadian Emergency Response Benefit





Kyla Ross

CERB Canadian   Emergency Response Benefit


Anne Frost

CERB is the current program to provide a basic  income to laid-off workers



Thank you.



Ben and Mimi, if you wouldn't mind tuning off you  mics while Michelle speaks, that would be helpful.


Kristen Turner

Really well said Michelle


Reesa Barkhouse

Great points Michelle!


Claudia Molina

all great thoughts. but YES! we need to exist:)


Kendra Miller

YES! So true Michelle!


Kendra Miller

Systems need to be shifted.



Yes,,ue. Michelle. Very tr


Chris Coxson

There's an old book called "Small Is  Beautiful" about how we can do many things on a smaller scale &  offer the opportunity to break down old monolithic structures, work  communally and more intimately, and remain sustainable and viable in the  process



Sounds interesting Chris, who's the author?


Anne Frost

EF Schumacher





Jennifer Gordon

No one wants to fund a sinking ship


Chris Coxson

Thanks Anne for answering that


Anne Frost

a community arts organization that I volunteer  for has done its biggest "member appeal" since the pandemic began  and done the best, financially, as a result, in its fundraising history



Can we get a transcript of this presentation?


Jennifer Gordon

It is being captioned



Can't copy it.


Jennifer Gordon

and recorded for archive



transcript would help me read it later


Jennifer Gordon

Brilliant Mimi!


Chris Coxson

So we can look at Archive after the conference


Colleen Smith

If you build it, they won't necessarily come, but  if THEY build it, they will stay :slightly_smiling_face:


Culture's Compass

For anyone interested, we will be uploading the  transcripts to the website post-conference.


Maria Morgunova

amazing speakers



thank you


Jennifer Gordon

:heart: Love that POV Colleen!


Anne Frost

Colleen's citing Mimi . . . hi, Colleeen!


Colleen Smith

Hi Ann :slightly_smiling_face:


Jennifer Gordon

Yes, Anne, Mimi's comment was brilliant!


Colleen Smith

Loving this session!


Jennifer Gordon

Also, Hi Anne!


Kristen Turner

Really great insights from all panelists. Super  impressed


Jennifer Gordon

This session is helpful & hopeful


Anne Frost

absolutely brilliant, yes!


Jesse O

Most of this discussion is based around  organizations, especially not for profit as most need to be to get govn't  funding. Similarly artists have access to lots of grants. However, if you're  a small business or sole proprietor, for profit in the arts/music space there  are very few options right now. Philanthropy doesn't really apply either, as  again those are mainly for large charitable orgs, not individuals. These  folks need financial solutions too.


Chris Coxson

NANOS poll said 85% public wouldn't go to live  shows currently, but same percentage really wants to. The interest in  supporting & sharing the arts is still there.


Jennifer Gordon

Pay what makes you happy is a great option


Vicki Hargreaves

Audiences are already saturated for sure.


Jennifer Gordon

Pay what makes you happy helps removes stigma  around what you can....and reinforces the joy aspect


Kristen Turner

That's super interesting, I'll have to look into  those patreons and the like


Vicki Hargreaves

Yes @jesseo


Andrea Roberts

We also aren't talking much about the skills  required to be able to create/produce digital content - and the fact that many  people don't have them!


Anne Frost

this panel is about resources, but your question  probably belongs in another conference session?





Jennifer Gordon

Another super insight Mimi. Round table:clap:


Anne Frost

and we're capped at 15% for admin for most grants  . . . thanks!


Colleen Smith

exactly, Ann.


Culture's Compass

Thanks Ben for being such a great moderator - and  speakers, about 10 minutes remaining.


Anne Frost

(referencing Ben's report that Ivy League schools  in the US ascribe 40% overhead to f/r)


Andrea Roberts

Do you have any insight on how funders feel about  fallow time?


Andrea Roberts

Hi :slightly_smiling_face:


Anne Frost

Rural support in Scotland is more robust than  here . . .


Anne Frost

or has been, from Creative Scotland at least


Chris Coxson

Maybe travelling minstrel shows! Caravans, of course  physically distanced, like Shakespeare, Dusk Dances. Go to the people in  rural regions.


Vicki Hargreaves

It's more that there are fewer foundations that  will support regions. Especially since more and more artists are fleeing teh  cities.


Julian Sleath

Also the distances are much smaller in Scotland  as compared to Canada. He was talking in terms of hours driving - not  days....just saying.


Chris Coxson

Finding funds for on the shows events is always a  challenge though


Jennifer Gordon

reflection: protecting time & space for that


Kyla Ross

YES totaly agree Michelle! Quality over quantity!


Chris Coxson

Or collaborating with people in remoter  communities in how & what to present, they create in their community that  they know more intimately, you just facilitate such events without actually  going there.



Excellent presentation! Thank you!


Elka Weinstein

We're here!!


Claudia Molina

thank you!!!!



Thank you!


Kyla Ross

Thank you all!!


Stephanie Hart

thank you!


Culture's Compass

Thank you for tuning in everyone, what an  insightful topic! At 2:15 will have Charles C. Smith, Syrus Marcus Ware, and  Sage Petahtgoose speaking about Activism and the Arts. We can't wait to see  you all there!
 Don't forget to share #CulturesCompass2020 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,  and LinkedIn.


Julian Sleath

thanks all of you.


Kristen Turner

Thanks panelists :clap: ! Amazing!


Liz Pead

Thank you!


Jennifer Dick

Thank you



Definitely watching the recording!



:clap: :clap:


Michelle Yeung

Thank you for listening and watching!


Kyla Ross

Thanks Ben Michelle and Mimi! great talk


Julien Rutherford

Thank you Michelle, Mimi, and Ben for such an insightful  and thoughtful discussion!