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artsVest funding gives local arts organizations a leg up

Arts groups learned how to build sponsorships
Charlie Gudaitis of the South Georgian Bay Music Foundation, left, talks with Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper and Claire Hefferon Payne, the national director of artsVest at the Simcoe Theatre Tuesday. Gisele Winton Sarvis / CollingwoodToday

Six local arts organizations now have the business legs they need to stand on to create even more brilliant art in South Georgian Bay.

The artsVest program provided $30,000 to the arts groups, which they had to match in sponsorship, and business mentorship over the last seven months.

“It helped me focus on gaining sponsorship and helped me focus on getting a board of governance,” said Charlie Gudaitis of the South Georgian Bay Music Foundation (SGBMF), formerly known as the Collingwood Jazz and Blues Society.

SGBMF transformed from a non-profit organization to a registered charity.

“That took a long time but happened during the artsVest program,” Gudaitis said.

“What’s happened now is I’ve completely taken over Jazz and Blues at the Station. So now this going to be our program.”

Nine concerts will take place on Wednesday nights from June 27 to Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Station in Collingwood.

“We’ve got nine fabulous acts and a great variety of music this year,” he said. The artists will be announced soon.

Side Launch Brewing Company is one of SGBMF’s four major partners. In addition to offering beer at Jazz and Blues at the Station events, SCBMF also promotes its sponsors through its advertising of its summer music events.

“This is the kind of thing that artsVest teaches you,” he said pointing to last year’s brochure.

“We print 2,500 of these. We had 4,800 people attend our events over the summer. We do quite a bit of advertising reach for our sponsors. So sponsorship with us is a valuable because of the reach. That’s what we are trying to do.”

Mayor Sandra Cooper said artsVest is a “great program” that is very important to the local organizations.

“A lot of these arts organizations are dependent on volunteer dollars and volunteer time. It takes them to that next level that they have the financial resource to look at the business end of things,” she said. 

Claire Hefferon Payne the national director of the artsVest Program said Collingwood has received artsVest funding twice, first in 2013 and then in 2017.

Hefferon Payne said the groups in Collingwood really stand out.

“There is such passion and enthusiasm. I think there is a lot of organizations that are really established in the community who are doing sponsorship already but they have a thirst for the mentorship, such as learning more about sponsorship and board of governance,” she said. 

Experts volunteer their time to teach arts groups how to get business sponsorship.

“What they are learning from the mentors is how to get money from businesses in a mutually beneficial way,” she said.

“It’s engaging businesses in the community to get involved with their arts organizations financially, sometimes having their employees volunteer at events or entertaining corporate clients through their theatre production. That kind of thing.

“So it’s getting into partnerships with businesses rather than just one-way donation dollars.”

Groups also learned how to build stronger board of directors, how to get board members more involved and how to get them fundraising more efficiently, she said.

“They learned a lot over a training period of seven months.”

The other five organizations that got a piece of the $30,000 funding included the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, Magic of Children in the Arts, Theatre Collingwood Association Inc., The Factory Culture and the Quarter Century Theatre.

The six organizations exceeded the sponsorship expectation, collecting almost $38,000.

Mayor Cooper said the local economic impact has been calculated to be more than $127,000.

ArtsVest is funded through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Trillium Fund.

Municipalities must apply in order to be considered for funding.

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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