Guy Ross | State Theatre Company of South Australia
Development Manager Guy Ross on the great strides the State Theatre Company of South Australia has made in the past year, and the lasting impact of our Plus1 program.
In November 2013 the State Theatre Company of South Australia (STCSA) received matched funding through our Plus1 program to employ an additional staff member for their development team. We spoke to Guy about the great strides STCSA has made in the past year, and the Plus1 program’s lasting impact.
Hi Guy! Thanks for talking with us.
What are you currently…
Othello, State Theatre’s final show for 2014 opens tonight. I’m really enjoying being part of a theatre company and learning more about this extraordinary art form.
The funding guidelines for Plus1 grant round for 2015!
Tuna on corn thins…doesn’t everyone who works in the arts eat this for lunch?
What can’t you live without?
My iPhone, sadly.
We’d love to know a little about your professional background and what led you to the STCSA. What skills have been most useful to you as an arts fundraiser?
That’s a very good question and I imagine that there isn’t really a straightforward answer as there isn’t really a clearly defined pathway to be an arts fundraiser. I’ve come to the role having studied architecture, now an MBA and my professional background is having spent the past 10 years working in youth and community music (recently 4 years as General Manager of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra). In our Development team at State Theatre Company we have people from very diverse backgrounds – tourism, design, teaching and hospitality.
Essentially, being an effective arts fundraiser requires really strong people skills with the ability to relate to a wide spectrum of people. I’ve found that raising funds is best achieved when a culture of giving surrounds the organisation. It’s the role of the arts fundraiser to work with people close to the Company to nurture this culture.
In terms of corporate partnerships, I think it’s increasingly important to have a strong understanding of marketing strategy. As the accountability of corporate investment in the arts becomes further scrutinised, the focus of partnerships needs to demonstrate value through brand alignment. You’ve got to be able to understand the partner’s strategy for their brand and how the reputation and customer base of the arts company will help them achieve their strategy. Having a commercial mind is really important.
But all of this pales in comparison to having passion and commitment to the artform for which you’re seeking support. Speaking with conviction about the vision you’re working towards is essential when working with others who are passionate about your Company. State Theatre Company has been around for 42 years and our supporter base have a very strong sense of ownership over their Company!
What three words would you use to describe the STCSA?
Positive, enterprising and humble.
What have been your top five achievements since securing Plus1 funding for the STCSA?
- Brought more people closer to the Company through connecting with more of our subscriber base;
- Focussed our fundraising on the needs of the Company – artist development, creative development, commissioning of new works and our excellent education program;
- Established our newly incorporated State Theatre Company Foundation which will oversee the Philanthropy activities of State Theatre Company including our Endowment campaign;
- Reduced our costs in servicing corporate partners whilst at the same time providing greater value to what will support their marketing strategy; and
- Provided excellent customer service for our corporate partners and donors through improved communications and data management.
What fundraising strategy did you have in place to raise your Plus1 matched funding target?
The Plus1 program gave State Theatre Company a tangible focus point for Board members and prospective members to the new Foundation to get behind the larger strategy which was to build capacity in the Company’s Development department. Raising the funds was very quick, and my predecessors (I wasn’t with the Company at the time) worked within the Company’s ‘family’ who all acknowledged that the Company needed to make the most of this funding opportunity.
What’s pleasing to see is that the position of Development Assistant which was created from the Plus1 Program will be continued to be funded from the additional revenue generated from having increased resources in the Development department.
Will Plus1 leave a positive legacy in your organisation?
Absolutely – Plus1 for us has enabled the development functions within the Company to keep in step with the growth and development of what’s happening on stage. Under the dynamic leadership of Rob (CEO) and Geordie (AD) Brookman, the Company is in a really good place both in terms of the engagement with the community of theatre-goers, but also the response critically has been outstanding.
Giving us additional support in the Development team has enabled us to capitalise on recent achievements on the stage, therefore building greater capacity within our organisation as we look to the future.
And finally, if you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self?
Just because someone has a different point of view, or they disagree with you, doesn’t mean they’re wrong!